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Museum Celebrates Darwin Day

Museum Celebrates Darwin Day

Flanked by jars of animal specimens, Texas Natural Science Center's Jess Rosales shows visitors specimens of eels and other fish.
Flanked by jars of animal specimens, Texas Natural Science Center's Jess Rosales shows visitors specimens of eels and other fish.

Charles Darwin, and his book On the Origin of Species, revolutionized the biological and medical sciences and our understanding of evolution, diversity, and ultimately, humanity. To commemorate Darwin and his accomplishments, people worldwide this year are celebrating his 200th birthday, which is this Thursday, February 12. This year also marks the 150th anniversary of the publication of the book.

On Sunday, the Texas Natural Science Center celebrated with a special day full of Darwin-related events from noon to 5 p.m. at the Texas Memorial Museum.
At Darwin Day, children could be seen running around during an evolution-based scavenger hunt. They visited numerous interactive booths featuring diverse plant and animal specimens like those studied by Darwin.

At the Plant Resources Center booth, visitors could see an original plant specimen that Darwin had collected from his journey to the Galapagos Islands.

Four scientists from the university gave talks related to Darwin’s discoveries.

Ann Molineux talked about the Rudists, an extremely diverse group of mollusks that proliferated during the Cretaceous Period but died out as the Tertiary Period began. Sahotra Sarkar talked about the stories behind Darwin and Alfred Wallace’s independent discoveries of natural selection, and what the relationship between these two naturalists was like. David Cannatella brought some attention to Darwin’s “other” great idea besides natural selection: the Tree of Life, a way to connect the ancestry and descent of all living organisms. And Molly Cummings talked about how evolution can help us to understand animal behavior. She shared some of her findings using swordtail fish to help identify genes and neural pathways that regulate behaviors such as promiscuity and mate choice.

“Ultimately,” said Christina Cid, organizer of the event, “we wanted this event to show people why Darwin is important to our lives.”

No birthday celebration would be complete without cake, and after a children’s storytelling session by librarian Pat Ramsey, everyone gathered to sing “Happy Birthday” to Darwin and eat birthday cake.
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Friday, 27 January 2023

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