the end of a world ?

Produced by the prestigious Natural History Museum in London, the exhibition Extinctions: the end of a world ? has been designed to raise awareness. It brings together more than 60 objects from the collections of the Museum in London, and is enhanced by 30 specimens from the Museum of Toulouse.

The exhibition proposes a well-paced, interactive journey comprised of documentary videos, scientific testimonies from out in the field and multimedia tools.

It encourages visitors to think about evolution and the extinction of species, but also about conservation and preservation.

Find out our main concers about extinction

Extinction today ?

From the dinosaur to the dodo, not forgetting the giant penguin, 99% of all species that have ever lived on Earth are now extinct. This figure is impressive, but not all that surprising. Extinction is an inherent part of life on Earth, and a guarantee of biodiversity.

Thanks to the animal species that survived the five great mass extinctions, such as the leatherback turtle and the horseshoe crab, and the ginkgo tree, together with the traces left by those that disappeared (such as the dinosaur), researchers can now partially explain the process underway.

What happens after a mass extinction? How do new species evolve and how much time does life on Earth take to “recover”? With a million animal and plant species currently threatened with extinction in the next few decades, are we living in the shadow of the sixth mass extinction ? Are we having more of an impact than natural phenomena like volcanic eruptions or meteor strikes ? Which species will survive ? Which species will disappear ? What does the future hold for mankind ?

Conservation to the rescue ?

Extinctions: the end of a world ? Shines a spotlight on the way human activity is pushing certain species to the brink. The disappearance of just one species in an ecosystem can upset the balance between all the others. Earth’s resources are limited, and we are consuming more than it can provide. The exhibition highlights the many threats facing biodiversity, while simultaneously helping visitors discover the conservation projects that are trying to prevent the worst. Protecting a habitat and ecosystem is the best way to preserve the species that inhabit it.

But can conservation fix everything ? If we cannot protect all of the plants and all of the animals, which species should we choose ? Should we protect them in their habitat or should we take them out of it? Do we have to protect all forms of life ? What about viruses, diseases and species that might do us harm, or even kill us? What financial, economic, political or even cultural cost must be paid for conservation?  Would money be better spent on those species that are of greater interest for us, or that take up less space ? Could we really allow one of the most beautiful and most emblematic creatures on our plant disappear ?

What’s your opinion ?
At the end of this part of the exhibition, you are invited to give your opinion through a vote on the different methods of protection to be implemented. We would like to know what each person is ready to do at their own level to stop the coming extinctions.

Surviving a Mass Extinction

Turtles, horseshoe crabs, ginkgo trees … What is the secret of the species that have already survived mass extinctions? Scientists are studying the adaptation strategies plants and animals apply to changes and to geological events on Earth. What is it that makes one animal resistant and another not ? Which species are best armed to face up to the rarification of natural resources? We know that around 10 million years after a mass extinction, life always finds new paths, through adaptation. Yet today, humans have the power to start the next extinction. Who is going to lose out and who is going to win ?

When all these fragile species will have disappeared, will we be able to bring them back from oblivion with technology incorporating DNA advances ?

Homo Extinctus ? What will happen to the human species ?

With the global population currently at more than six billion, we might think that Homo Sapiens can survive it all. Yet, other human species lived on Earth over the last 7 billion years before us, and they are all extinct. Might the last remaining human species go down the same path ? Researchers have identified that in the case of mass extinctions it is usually the biggest predators who disappear first. Could it be that we are in the process of creating the very conditions for our own downfall or is it some other cause that will decide our end ? Perhaps it will be a pandemic, a meteorite, or even a nuclear disaster (more than 20,000 nuclear warheads are currently scattered across the Earth, after all) ? Will the anticipated rarification of natural resources push us to exterminate ourselves ? Will technology enable us to survive ?

By causing the extinction of the species around us for the first time, are we now in the process of reducing our own chances of survival? As we develop new technologies, we may be able to devise ingenious methods of protecting life on Earth. Perhaps, when all is said and done, the end of the human species is not here just yet …

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With a never-before-seen format, the semi-permanent space, Oka Amazonie, an inhabited forest, gives the visitor a glimpse of the history, culture and way of life of Amerindian people today.

This area teaches visitors about the related fundamental issues: protection of biodiversity, the future of indigenous cultures in a globalized world, and the preservation of both tangible and intangible cultural heritage.


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