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The University of Texas at Austin Texas Natural Science Center Texas Natural Science Center

Press Room


Texas Natural Science Center

Event: Darwin Day
Day/Date/Time: Sunday, February 8, 2009 from 12 noon to 5 pm
Location: Texas Memorial Museum (2400 Trinity -- 2 blocks north of the UT football stadium)
Admission: FREE!

Contact:  Christina Cid @ 512/232-5509 or cramsey@mail.utexas.edu

Celebrate Charles Darwin’s 200th birthday -- f un for families and science aficionados alike!  See one of Darwin’s own specimens, collected from the Galápagos Islands on his historic journey aboard the HMS Beagle!  Examine natural specimens similar to ones that Darwin saw.  Find out how Darwin’s observations led him to develop the Theory of Evolution and learn more about his influence on modern day science.


Ongoing: face-painting, crafts, and interactive nature booths hosted by UT-Austin scientists         

Ongoing: dig in the Fossil Dig Pit and learn what it is like to be a paleontologist searching for fossils

12:30 pm – Wild Life Styles of Extinct and Bizarre Rudists, presentation by Dr. Ann Molineux, collections manager, Non-vertebrate Paleontology Laboratory, Texas Natural Science Center, UT-Austin:  “These weird, contorted bivalve molluscs ruled the shallow marine sea floor during the Cretaceous Period. They ranged in size from less than an inch to over 6 feet long, exploited a huge variety of body shapes and life styles, but did not make it through the K/T boundary. Why did they vary so dramatically and why could they not survive?”

1:15 pm – Darwin and Wallace, presentation by Dr. Sahotra Sarkar, professor, Section of Integrative Biology and Department of Philosophy, UT-Austin:  “Learn about the independent discovery of the theory of natural selection by Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace. Explore how both men attempted to provide evidence for natural selection at work in domesticated species and in the geographical distribution of species. Examine how they came to diverge about human cultural and intellectual evolution.”

2:00 pm – Web of Life, storytelling for the whole family by Pat Ramsey, children’s librarian

2:30 pm – We cut the birthday cake – enjoy a piece!

2:45 pm – Darwin’s Tree of Life, presented by Dr. David Cannatella, curator of herpetology, Texas Natural Science Center, UT-Austin:  “One of Darwin's two great ideas was the Tree of Life, a powerful metaphor for the connections of ancestry and descent that bind all living organisms together.  See how breakthroughs in DNA technology and computer analysis help us connect the various branches of the Tree.  Hear how new discoveries by University of Texas at Austin researchers have used these techniques to understand the evolution of Life.”

3:30 pm – The Origin of Species, Revisited, presented by Dr. Daniel Bolnick, assistant professor, Section of Integrative Biology, UT-Austin:  “Although Darwin’s best-known book is titled On the Origin of Species, the book actually is quite vague about what species are, and how new species arise. Research on the processes that lead to new species has seen a major revival in the past two decades. This talk will update Darwin’s view to focus on recent advances in our understanding of the origin of species.”

NOTE TO K-12 TEACHERS:  Register to receive 5 hours of CPE credit for attending Darwin Day activities – contact Christina Cid:  cramsey@mail.utexas.edu.

Texas Memorial Museum is part of the Texas Natural Science Center at UT Austin.  The Museum’s mission:  to encourage awareness and appreciation of the interplay of biological, geological and environmental forces as they have shaped, are shaping and will shape our world. 
Regular museum hours are Monday-Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and Sunday, 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. 
The Museum is located at 2400 Trinity Street (2 blocks north of the UT stadium). 
For more information, visit www.texasmemorialmuseum.org.
About UT’s Texas Natural Science Center:  
The Center encourages awareness of biological diversity through research, exhibits, and education/outreach and is made up of the Texas Memorial Museum, the Vertebrate Paleontology Lab, the Non-vertebrate Paleontology Lab, and the Texas Natural History Collections.  The Center’s leading-edge research in the disciplines of paleontology, geology, biology, herpetology, ichthyology and entomology has amassed a collection of 5.7 million specimens.  All exhibits and education/outreach programs are based on these specimens, most of which are from Texas and many of which are unique and irreplaceable. Exhibits and educational programming spotlight evolution and biodiversity, dinosaurs and fossils, Texas wildlife, and gems and minerals.  The Center welcomes more than 75,000 visitors to its exhibit hall, the Texas Memorial Museum, annually.  The Center is the leader in science education enrichment for Central Texas, with community outreach that includes teacher training workshops, K-12 classroom presentations reaching 800+ students each semester, public events that draw more than 8,000 visitors annually, partnerships with other science organizations, and a website featuring virtual exhibits with educational materials for teachers and leading-edge research data.

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