Evolution: An iPad App from the Natural History Museum

By Scott, Elspeth S. | School Librarian, Winter 2012 | Go to article overview

Evolution: An iPad App from the Natural History Museum


Scott, Elspeth S., School Librarian


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This visually attractive and informative app covers the story of evolution from the beginnings of life. The main interface shows an arch framing clickable photographs mainly of fossils, but also including some human artefacts e.g. tools, cave paintings, carvings--to access further information. A menu on the left links to further sections and to other methods of exploring the app.

The Timeband is a continuous band in chronological order of beautiful drawings of fossil sites as they might have looked. The user can scroll through or use the smaller version at the bottom to jump quickly from one section to the next. Clickable blue dots indicate fossils in the main database. The Timeline uses the same chronological approach but via a chart of geological periods: eon, era, period and epoch, and also sites. Users tap on any bar for brief information. The eon, era and period sections have more detail, and extra audio commentary. The Timeglobe is an expandable, rotatable globe which I found fun but a little difficult to control. Using the timemarker allows you to see how earth looked in different eons, useful for demonstrating continental drift.

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Events is a scrollable list in chronological order of 17 events significant in evolution from the origin of life to early art via snowball glaciations and human evolution. Each event has one screen of information, some with extra audio commentary, and again you can tap on photos for extra information. The Exhibition is of 34 specially selected fossils in chronological order which have been chosen for more detailed description and analysis. Some also have 360[degrees] views and some have tutorial videos with an expert from the NHM staff.

The Library contains a number of volumes, some providing alternative ways to access the information and some with additional text. Natural History Museum has links to their website and 10 tutorial videos ranging from the very first plants through how and why fish evolved limbs to traces of Neanderthal DNA in the modern human; heroes: the pioneers of evolutionary theory is a searchable, alphabetical list giving a brief biography and explanation of their importance in evolution; fossil index is an AZ of 900+ plants and creatures in a searchable list; a gazetteer of 100 significant fossil sites--this is in chronological order but is searchable ; glossary; and credits. …

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