Gallery of the Day: Survival

August 10, 2011


Survival is the top floor gallery out of three in the ‘animal stack’ at the National Museum of Scotland. As an atrium gallery,it has the Wildlife Panorama rising up through the middle*.

“What makes one animal species thrive and another die out? The ability of a species to adapt to its environment is key to its survival. Evolution and extinction are constantly happening, changing the diversity of life on Earth. What we do to the world around us affects these processes dramatically and threatens the survival of life as we know it.”

Central to this gallery are the topics of evolution and extinction. ‘Life Evolves’ covers topics such as natural and artificial selection, mutation and variation, speciation, and the all important question of what came first, the chicken or the egg? ‘New Life After Extinctions’ looks at the causes of extinction, and leads neatly into the final sections on human impact and threats to survival, including pollution and climate change, overfishing and flattened rain forests, hunting and poaching, as well as other threats such as diseases, hybridisation and alien predators. The gallery also features my favourite interactive from when we were testing the prototypes, the wolf reintroduction game. Finally, as we were leaving, I had a brief moment of amusement when a group of teenagers entered the gallery and one of them shouted “Look! Kung Fu!” as she spotted the Giant Panda.


  • Dodo model and skeleton
  • Development of a chicken from yolk to chick
  • Giant Panda
  • Insects in amber

Things to do

  • Explore the life cycle of a Brazil nut tree and how it depends on the animals and plants in its environment
  • Watch the animal film footage on the screens in the Wildlife Panorama, there’s a good eye-level vantage point from this floor
  • Try your hand at reintroducing wolves to Scotland in the “Wild Things” game – you’ll need to balance the biodiversity of wolves and deer, as well as take the views and feelings of eco-tourists, birdwatchers, hunters, farmers and the local community on board.


*See the Animal World post for a description of the panorama.

** Please note that these are my own personal highlights and not necessarily recommended as such by the museum.


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