Feb 21, 2023

Plant and animal senses, sensory capabilities beyond our imagination

Von Sinnen – (Un)Common Sense – the new exhibition at the State Museum of Natural History Karlsruhe reveals the often extraordinary senses that plants and animals use to survive and for their everyday needs.

This hybrid station (which combines tactile, audio, digital, video and tactile elements) enables the visitor to discover the meaning of a macaque’s facial expressions. ©Mathias Vielsäcker

Have you ever thought that a monkey is capable of making its feelings understood by its fellow monkeys… and by us, human beings? It’s not so easy to pull a face in front of a colleague to let them know how we feel. At the museum in Karlsruhe you can at least try to have a go in front of the monkey station.

The visitor is invited to discover the macaque’s facial expressions (neutral, friendly, anxious, menacing), to reproduce them in front of mirrors and to compare them. Below each monkey head a tablet shows the animation of a monkey avatar so that the visitor sees not just the animal’s frozen expression but also its movement.

Sharks use sight, smell, hearing or electro-reception to catch their prey. ©Mathias Vielsäcker

Bats navigate by ear, guided by the echo of their cries. To feed, sharks use the right sense (sight, smell, sound or electro-reception) according to the distance between them and their prey.

In addition to the diversity of senses with which living things are endowed, the exhibition above all allows us to see how far the sensory capabilities of plants and animals exceed what we can imagine. Let’s remind ourselves that we are not blessed with the same capabilities! This doesn’t stop us from exploring their perceptive realities. This is the objective that the museum set itself in working with Tactile Studio on a sensory trail that is instructive and accessible to all.

Your essentials for everything you need to know about the exhibition Un(Common) Sense:

General article about the exhibition: here.

Museum website: here.

◉ Exhibition blog: here.

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