Author Archive

The Wolf Inside

October 25, 2012

Following on from the Future Animals project and its focus on wolf domestication Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales has developed a new exhibtion called the Wolf Inside.

Ever wondered about the ancestors of your pet dog? Ever wondered why cows are different colours or why there are so many different kinds of sheep? A brand new natural history exhibition at National Museum Cardiff aims to answer some of these every day questions and tells the history of domesticated farm animals and pets.

From meat and dairy products to faithful companionship, domesticated animals have provided us innumerable products, services and hours of labor that have had profound effect on the history of humanity. At first, humans used animals merely for food but eventually saw that animals could be useful for work, clothes, protection and transportation.

 

This image showing all domesticated species was produced by Eggness.com

In the wild, animals are protective of themselves and suspicious of other animals. But humans have been able to change this behavior. Over time, some animals become gentler and submit to human instruction — what’s called domestication. In this process, an entire animal species evolves to become naturally accustomed to living among and interacting with humans.

This exhibition at in the natural history galleries of National Museum Cardiff explains the process of domestication through focusing on pets and familiar farm animals and demonstrates how domestication has changed, sometimes dramatically, in the following three groups, The Dog – the first animal to become domesticated, The Sheep – which was domesticated a long time ago and there are now in the region of 1,000 different breeds and The Chicken – a comparatively recent addition to the list of domesticated animals. As well as a complete horse skeleton and a complete cow skeleton there will be skulls and stuffed animals of various other domesticated animals including pigs, goats and more cows in the exhibition.

Domestication can alter the appearance of animals, sometimes to extraordinary degrees. Scientists have compared the genes from dogs and wolves and found they are very closely related. So much so that scientists treat the dog as a subspecies of the wolf rather than a species in its own right. For animals in the agricultural environment, breeders are looking to improve traits such as milk yields, the amount of wool on the animal, the rate at which it grows, its hardiness and its tolerance to disease.

Dogs have traditionally been bred for hunting, guarding or working with livestock. Their shape and temperament would have been selected for these different tasks.

It is only within the last 200 years that dogs have been bred for the way they look, rather than the way they behave.

Pete Howlett said, “In today’s world, we take animal domestication for granted. But domestication has been vital to the evolution of human society and without it, we would not have the food security we now enjoy and neither would we have the pleasure that pets bring to millions. It is a fascinating subject and we think our visitors will be able to relate to this display and will very much enjoy it. It’s a chance to answer some of those tricky questions about animals and pets!”

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Future Animals on the internet

October 25, 2012

The film of the Technology Entertainment and Design talk given by Jacqui Mulville in March 2010 is available on YouTube.  ‘Future Animals: Art, Science and Imagination‘ was given to a live and streamed audience at TEDx Cardiff.

Twitter comments included ‘Really enjoyable talk … great to see academics sharing their work in new places’.

The talk was visualised in a sketch note by the very talented Laura from Auralab.

 

The project has also been used as a feature on the by the Beacon for Wales and a case study by the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement.

Designer animals

March 6, 2012

There are some fantastic art projects exploring animals and design – check them out. The mouse traps are great, designed to capture not kill and checkout the animal radiator and variety of fish bowls.

In the News

February 26, 2012

Read about Future Animals  in the News.  Also there is an article on some of the  team – and what they get up to the rest of the time.

Cardiff Osteological Research Group

The team and other animals

Joining the Clan

February 24, 2012

As we think about the changing nature of human animal relationships we often draw upon experiences and stories to bring our ideas alive.  In doing this we have often referred to various books and one of our favourite series is the Chronicles of Darkness written by Michelle Paver.  

Wolf Brother is the  tale of Torek, a boy from about 6,000 years ago, and how he befriends a wolf.  The earliest domestic dog burials date from around this time (Skakeholm, Sweden) and the story brings to life how humans related to wild animals and how early acclimatisation, taming and then domestication may have occurred. 

A Bronze Age dog burial from Scotland

Fans of these books have an enthusiastic on-line community and yesterday we were interviewed for The Clan about Future Animals, archaeology, animals and art.  We set a competition for members to create a logo for their clan: open forest, deep forest, far north or sea clan.

We were very excited to hear about the new series of books Michelle is writing called Gods and Warriors – set in the Bronze Age and we hope to speak to The Clan again about the archaeology associated with both book series.

Future Animals – what next?

February 21, 2012

After the success of Future Animals and Back to the Future@Green Man (and having so much fun) we decided to create Guerilla Archaeology to ‘take the past into the present and future’ in more creative ways and in different environments – you can follow some of this work on our facebook page .

We are also developing Future Animals to come to a museum near you and we will be creating more on-line resources so more people can get involved – watch this space.

Jacqui is also talking about Future Animals at TEDX Cardiff – and the talk will be available on-line.

Back to the Future@Green Man

February 21, 2012

In August 2012 we took Future Animals (and a series of other activities) to the Green Man music festival in Wales.  We had a fabulous time, once again members of the public young and old were asked to create Future Animals.

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We also asked people to peg events on the washing line of time and created future purses, for a world where recycled materials are a valuable resource.

Future Animals 2012

February 21, 2012

We may have been quiet recently however we have been extremely busy. Last year we took a variant of Future Animals to the National History Museum Wales as part of the Life Stories day.  

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We ran Pet Stories a workshop for children and family groups asking for animals stories drawn as short cartoon strips.

Paul is our artist-in-residence

March 11, 2010

Forgot to mention – Paul has been given a 10 month residency here in Cardiff funded by the Leverhulme Trust.

He has a separate blog about this project where you can see more of his work.

Official Opening

March 11, 2010
23rd March

Future Animals Exhibition official opening
10am Amgueddfa CymruNational Museum Wales