Cambridge Science Festival is the perfect opportunity to delight in true-life stories of discovery. Today I’ve been learning something about our own origins, at the Leverhulme Centre for Human Evolutionary Studies (LCHES). The LCHES scientists’ “In-Africa” project is investigating human origins in the Lake Turkana area of Kenya in every available way, from research into fossils, DNA and changing climate, to the reconstruction of ancient tools, to working with modern Turkana people whose rapidly-changing way of life can still give us clues to the past.
It’s a marvellous display. Some specimens mustn’t be touched, but if you’re careful of your fingers you can handle stone tools, flint arrow-heads and harpoons.
Among the fossil casts of hominid and human skulls are child-friendly, brightly-coloured, 3D printed reproductions. You can touch the huge teeth of the nutcracker man (Paranthropus boisei), and hold a skull of the tiny ‘Hobbit’ (Homo floresiensis) in one hand.
The Leverhulme Centre for Human Evolutionary Studies is in the Henry Wellcome Building 13A Fitzwilliam Street, CB2 1QH. It’s open again tomorrow (Sunday 26th March), 10am-4pm. Do go along; it’s a great chance to chat with welcoming and enthusiastic experts in their field. There’s more information here