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Darwin Day keeps on evolving for 6th year

Jessica Fuller • Updated Feb 7, 2018 at 8:44 PM

Organizers have decided that this year’s Darwin Day deserves a visit from Darwin himself. 

Gray Fossil Site Director Blaine Schubert and paleontologist Chris Wigda said that, following the trend of the last five Darwin Days at the East Tennessee State University and General Shale Natural History Museum, this year’s event will be the biggest yet. So that means organizers have done their best to pack the day with more activities, and one of the program’s students will don some 19th century apparel and a beard to transform into Darwin for photo ops throughout the day. 

Darwin Day is an international event, honoring the research that Charles Darwin contributed toward understanding the origins of life by developing the theory of natural selection as the mechanism for evolution. Since Darwin was born on Feb. 12, 1809, the museum will be hosting Darwin Day on Feb. 17. Activities will begin at 10 a.m. and conclude at 4 p.m. 

At 11 a.m., Schubert will give a presentation on research he and Wigda have been working on in Mexico’s Yucatán region in a talk titled “Darwin, Extinct Megafauna, and Underwater Caves of the Yucatán.” Last year yielded some big discoveries in this project that researchers at the Gray Fossil Site have worked on and will continue to explore. 

“We can tie his ideas about biogeography, his ideas about how animals move and migrate, to things that we’re finding in these caves,” Schubert said. 

Other activities planned for the day include a scavenger hunt with 3-D printed busts of Darwin placed throughout the museum, crafts and several interactive educational exhibits. Tickets are discounted for the day — $3 for adults and children ages 3 and older. 

“We celebrate science and discovery and him — how he changed the world,” Schubert said.

Email Jessica Fuller at jfuller@johnsoncitypress.com. Follow Jessica on Twitter @fullerjf91. Like her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jfullerJCP.

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