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Future Animals

05 December 2009

A blueprint for a racing tortoise - just one of the possible designs for the animals of the futureA blueprint for a racing tortoise - just one of the possible designs for the animals of the future

What will pets and farm animals look like in 1000 years’ time? That’s the challenge facing a group of young people who have been asked to design the animals of the future as part of a University-led project.

Around 30 young people aged 14-19 from south Wales will be encouraged to explore Charles Darwin’s most ground-breaking ideas about evolution and to apply them, along with their own thoughts, to create the animals of the next millennium as part of Future Animals: friend or food?

The project is an initiative between the Schools of History and Archaeology and Biosciences along with external partners Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales, Techniquest, and the award-winning artist Paul Evans.

In a series of workshops at National Museum Cardiff the young people will learn about Darwin’s work and discuss the ways in which humans have changed animals, addressing issues such as the ethics surrounding selective breeding.

Based on their evolutionary investigations the group will come up with their own designs for the animals of the future, aided by archaeologists and scientists from the University and by Paul Evans. Their work will be exhibited at National Museum Cardiff from February to April 2010.

Dr Jacqui Mulville, School of History and Archaeology is leading the project: "Future Animals: friend or food? offers young people an insight into and an exploration of artificial selection - a key aspect of Charles Darwin’s research into the origin of species by natural selection," said Dr Mulville.

"In addition to offering hands-on creative challenges and experience, the project offers scope for ethical debate about our past, present and future relationship with animals - is it right, for example, for us to change the way that animals look and behave, just so that we can eat well or have a cute and cuddly companion?"

As well as designing and drawing the animals of the future, the project offers the pupils the chance to participate directly in the process of staging a museum exhibition. Artist Paul Evans will be on-hand at the workshops to help the group with their designs and to work with the Museum’s learning officer and young people to curate the exhibition. "I have a life-long interest in biology and this has recently become a subject for my drawings. Future Animals is a natural extension of the work that I've been doing and it's a great way to explore human relationships with the animal kingdom" said Paul.

"I’m very excited about the project and the collaboration with Jacqui and National Museum Wales, and I'm looking forward to motivating the young people and assisting with their drawings."

Future Animals is supported by funding from the Beacon for Wales. Workshops take place in December and the exhibition will be opened in February 2010.

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