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Fossils and finds of the natural world
THE year-end show for the ArtScience Museum of Marina Bay Sands is a strong exhibition focusing on some of the world's most scientifically-significant artefacts.
Mounted in collaboration with London's Natural History Museum, which owns a staggering 80 million specimens, Treasures Of The Natural World features over 200 objects that have shaped our understanding of the world.
There are many highlights, from Charles Darwin's handwritten page for the manuscript of On The Origin Of Species (1859) to about 30 beetles collected by Alfred Russel Wallace during his 19th century exploration of Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia which led to the publication of The Malay Archipelago.
Several artefacts hold surprises even for regular watchers of Discovery Channel and Animal Planet TV channels, such as the rare pieces of Antarctic fossil wood collected by Robert Falcon Scott's Terra Nova expedition which presented early evidence that Antarctica was once home to green forests.
There are also reconstructed models of certain extinct species based on fossil bones and findings. One of the most stunning is the skeleton of the sabre-toothed cat, believed to have gone extinct some 12,000 years ago, but continues to fire popular imagination because of its two elongated sabre-like front fangs.
Also set to be an Instagram draw is the model of the dodo, recreated purely through historical images drawn and painted by artists as there are no fossil remains of it. This odd-looking flightless bird with small wings has also captured popular imagination, appearing in Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures In Wonderland and even on the coat of arms of Mauritius.
Not all the artefacts are old findings. Some of the most recent ones include the mineral jadarite discovered only in the last decade. Jadarite, a silicate mineral crystal, is the closest match to the fictional kryptonite in the Superman universe.
The entire exhibition has been organised in five sections to give visitors an overview of how human understanding of the natural world has been shaped and transformed by various expeditions and discoveries over the centuries.
- Treasures Of The Natural World is now on at ArtScience Museum at Marina Bay Sands till April 29, 2018. Tickets at the door.