Making sense of the senses across species boundaries: designing the Animal Senses gallery at National Museums Scotland - NMS Research Repository
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Journal article

Making sense of the senses across species boundaries: designing the Animal Senses gallery at National Museums Scotland

17 October 2017

Abstract

As one of a suite of natural science galleries in the National Museum of Scotland, Animal Senses presents a comprehensive overview of how animals have evolved senses as they have adapted to different ecological niches in order to find food or avoid predation. Using different sensory channels, they also have evolved means of communication to attract mates, deter rivals, and remain hidden from predators and prey. Some of the most extraordinary examples of evolution are those which mimic the appearance of another unrelated species or some feature of the environment such as a thorn on a bush or a piece of coral. New taxidermy and models, engaging text presented hierarchically, and fun interactives were developed specifically for this gallery in order to present an up-to-date review of senses and communication. However, its real strength is the wide array of real specimens and life-size models which allow visitors to see what these animals really look like and how big they are, experiences which cannot be emulated by books or electronic media. By taking a thematic approach, we have created an unrivalled opportunity to compare animals from different taxonomic groups to see how they have solved the problems of life by evolving similar structures or completely different ones in order to find food, avoid being eaten, navigate, find mates and deceive rivals and predators.

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