Permanent Exhibition » Gallery of Humankind

  • Displays and 3D reconstructions of life-size hominids in the ‘Our evolution’ zone
  • A visitor standing in front of a projection on life-size model (photo: Koen Broos)
  • A visitor admires the "Gallery of Humankind – Our evolution, our body" poster (photo: Koen Broos)
  • Model of a brain with the different parts in different colours
  • Group of teenagers during a guided tour in the Gallery of Humankind

Gallery of Humankind

From Sahelanthropus to Homo sapiens, from embryo to adult: explore the human evolution and body in the all new ‘Gallery of Humankind – Our evolution, our body’.

To start with, fossils and 3D reconstructions will take you down the branching paths of 7 million years of evolution. Next, interactive tools will reveal the adaptations that set us apart from our predecessors (including a bigger brain and smaller teeth). Then, using simulations, you will explore the marvellous and complex machine that is our body, its development, how it works and what it needs to survive and reproduce (that should get your teenagers interested!).

Remarkable Elements

Our Evolution
  • Virtual reconstruction of the head of Toumaï, the Sahelanthropus tchadensis dating back 7.2 to 6.8 million years (image: Claude Desmedt – RBINS)
  • Life-size 3D reconstructions of the famous Australopithecus afarensis Lucy, in the foreground, and other australopithecines.
  • The specimen that represents modern humans, Homo sapiens, in this part of the gallery has been named Nazlet Khater, after the Egyptian site where he was discovered. He lived in the Nile Valley nearly 38,000 years ago. (photo: Thierry Hubin – RBINS)

In this zone, there are no less than 25 different hominid species that illustrate our prolific evolution, and what an evolution! From Toumaï the Sahelanthropus tchadensis to our species, Homo sapiens – the only one still around –, via Lucy the Australopithecus afarensis, Homo habilis the first craftsman, Homo erectus the explorer, and the Man of Spy, a Belgian Homo neanderthalensis, in between; this exhibition reveals our remarkable biodiversity.

Note: Using the life-size 3D reconstructions, you can compare yourself to 15 of these hominids: the longer the species survived, the longer the corresponding display case is. The majority of bones presented in this zone are casts of fossils still being studied today.

Modern Human
  • A visitor compares the skull volume of a human, a gorilla and an australopithecine.
  • A visitor tests the efficiency of their hands hanging from a horizontal bar.

We belong to the only human species still in existence, Homo sapiens (our closest living relatives are the great apes). We are without doubt the outcome of a long physical, cultural and social evolution. Humans have undergone major adaptations such as bipedalism, increasing dexterity, brain growth, and shrinking teeth. In this zone, you will see these four major adaptations at different stages (including ours), along with their many advantages and consequences.

Test: Try out the four interactive stations on the skeleton’s adaptation to bipedalism, the efficiency of our hands, the volume of the brain, and the size and shape of the teeth.

Our Body
  • Projection on the life-size model illustrating pregnancy (photo: Thierry Hubin – RBINS)
  • One of the many plastinated organs: the lungs (photo: Koen Broos)
  • A plastinated arm and its muscles (photo: Koen Broos)
  • Collection of human foetuses preserved in formalin (photo: Koen Broos)

This zone openly and honestly explores different life stages, from the embryo to adulthood: the fertilisation of the ovum by a spermatozoon, the transmission of genes from the parents, pregnancy, birth and the first weeks of life, a child’s rapid growth, the changes that take place during adolescence (to the brain and future reproductive functions) and old age.

You can see a collection of foetuses preserved in formalin for 100 years, children’s and adults’ skeletons, plastinated organs, projections on life-size models that illustrate pregnancy, the body in movement and the nervous and digestive systems.

Don't miss the Kinect game; association test; group pressure station and eight tablets with animations on a range of topics, including immunology, bones and the differences between girls and boys.

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