Temporary Exhibition » Senses!

  • Senses!
  • Visual of the exhibition 'Senses!'
  • Senses!
  • Senses!

Senses!

Thu, 06/10/2011 to Sun, 02/09/2012

Displayed at the Museum: 06/10/2011 >  02/09/2012

An exhibition that tickles your senses! 40 activities allow you to discover your senses and compare them to those of the animals... How well can you fire the ‘moth shooter’? Do you keep your cool when faced with a ball python? Would you use a cow as a compass? Compare yourself to bats, bees, snakes ... and test not five but eight senses! Feel free to look, and please DO touch!

Discover about forty activities, interactive kiosks, numerous stuffed animals, but also some live ones …

Senses! A sensory experience for families with a special route for toddlers (3-6 years)

 

Seeing (1)
  • Exhibit where visitors can try to collect as many berries as the chimpanzee while the light gradually fades

Eyesight is one of our most important senses. The human eye can see millions of different hues. Without colour, you could easily mistake a lemon for an orange.

Chimpanzees and orang-utans can see the same colours as humans. Colour helps them determine whether the fruits or berries they eat are ripe.

Seeing (2)
  • Exhibit where visitors can try to collect as much nectar as a bee, without the help of UV
  • Exhibit where visitors can try to find the route in the infrared labyrinth

Humans see millions of hues… but we don’t see everything! For humans, ultraviolet and infrared light are invisible to the naked eye. Some animals, however, can actually see these kinds of light.

Fish like goldfish, carps and piranhas can see infrared light; this is the only kind of light that penetrates the murky waters they live in. And certain flowers and animals display invisible patterns that reflect ultraviolet light. These patterns show bees, butterflies and hummingbirds the flowers which are right for them.

Hearing (1)
  • Exhibit where visitors can test if they have good hearing

Hearing is our most social sense, because sounds are much more than vibrations of air. They often carry meanings and sometimes even affect our mood and make us happy, or sad. Just think of conversations, warning signals, music, children’s laughter, birdsongs, etc.

Tones can be high, like the squeak of a mouse, or low, like the purring of a cat. The human ear is tuned to hear tones that are important for us, such as the sound of our voices. But as you grow older, you start losing some of your ability to hear.

Sometimes, animals’ ears are in odd places or have a peculiar size. Discover them in the Ear gallery!

Hearing (2)
  • Exhibit where visitors can hear how their voice sound in another pitch

Many animals can hear sounds that are so high (ultrasound) or so low (infrasound) that our ears cannot detect them. Ground squirrels warn each other of danger by emitting ultrasound that is inaudible to their enemies. Bats and dolphins benefit from ultrasound because the echo allows them to ‘see’ obstacles or prey.

Infrasound allows animals like elephants and whales to communicate with each other over long distances. The infrasound that whales emit can easily travel over 1000 km through the ocean!

How far do your cries travel? And can you catch as many moths as the bat?

Smell
  • Exhibit where visitors try to find the name of what they scent

Smell is our most emotional sense. Although we might not realize it, scents have a strong influence on us, with the power to arouse memories and emotions. The human nose can distinguish between as many as 10,000 different scents. But that’s nothing compared to the legendary sense of smell of dogs and the keen nose of the pig, indispensable for truffle hunting!

Do you sniff like the sniffer dog Thor? He has been used more than 200 times to track missing persons and also helped in around 800 scent identification tests.

Taste
  • Child testing the five flavours - and grimacing : this one was probalby to bitter!
  • Children testing the five flavours: do they recognize them when they pinch their nose?
  • close-up of a tongue: can you find your taste buds?

Your sense of taste tests out the food in your mouth, so that you can decide: swallow it or spit it out! The taste buds on our tongue detect five basic flavours: sweetness, saltiness, sourness, bitterness and umami. These tastes tell us something about our food. Sweetness means that the food contains a lot of energy; bitterness is often a warning sign that a substance is poisonous; umami means that the food is high in protein; etc.

Animals don’t always taste the same flavours as us. Cats, for example, cannot taste sweetness. They almost  always eat meat, and meat contains no sugar.

Touch
  • Child touching different textures
  • Children sitting on different textures (some with spikes)

Touch is a sense we use in many different ways. It’s handy, for instance, when searching in your pocket for coins. And when shaking hands or giving a hug or a kiss. You even need your sense of touch for picking your nose. People don’t realize how important their sense of touch is until they can no longer see, like when you’re in the dark, trying to find the light switch or the door handle.

For some animals, the sense of touch is of vital importance. Nocturnal animals or animals that live underground often have a sense of touch that is much more sensitive than ours.

Temperature
  • Child trying to feel differences of the temperature on a special floor
  • Children trying to gauge different temperatures with hands

The sense of temperature is the least well known and the least precise of our senses. We notice if our surroundings are too hot or too cold, but without a thermometer, we can never accurately tell what temperature it is. Certain animals are a lot better at this than we are. Some snakes can perceive temperature differences of 0.003 °C!

This allows the ball python to localise its warm-blooded prey even in the dark. And the mallee fowl uses its beak to determine the temperature of its nest. This way, he can keep his nest at a constant 33 °C for a period of three months. Otherwise, its eggs won’t hatch!

Electricity
  • Child looking at an electric fish exhibited in a glass case
  • Glass case with a spurdog shark and a marbled electric ray, both electric fishes

Nature is charged with electricity, and not only during electrical storms. Every living creature – including us – produces a small amount of electrical current. This bioelectricity, which generally is very weak, is caused mostly by the activity of muscles and nerve cells.

But we don’t have an electrical sense. Because water conducts electricity far better than air, an electric sense works best in water. That’s why it most commonly occurs in fish (like the brown bullhead, the spurdog shark, the marbled electric ray, etc.) and other water animals.

Magnetism
  • Children testing their magnetic sense in the exhibition
  • Child discovering the multimedia terminal about the magnetic sense of the cows

The needle of a compass always points north. This way, we can use the Earth’s magnetic field to find the right direction.

Some animals have a magnetic sense that works like an internal compass: it helps wood mice to find their way back to their underground burrows; loggerhead turtles to swim back to the beach where they hatched to lay their own eggs; carrier pigeons to find their way home; compass termites to build termite hills that point to the north, etc.

Activities for preschoolers
  • Children playing with animal ears headbands
  • Children trying to match several materials with their owners on a picture

Preschoolers can explore their senses in this exposition too. Five activities have been specifically developed for ages 3 to 6. There are no wrong or right answers, only different sensations!

Seeing (1)
  • Exhibit where visitors can try to collect as many berries as the chimpanzee while the light gradually fades

Eyesight is one of our most important senses. The human eye can see millions of different hues. Without colour, you could easily mistake a lemon for an orange.

Chimpanzees and orang-utans can see the same colours as humans. Colour helps them determine whether the fruits or berries they eat are ripe.

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