Monday 9 May 2016

A Diorama of Human Evolution and Other Specimens at Ankara's MTA Natural History Museum

In May 2016, I received news that the diorama of human evolution at Ankara's MTA Natural History Museum had been removed by conservative authorities. I had visited the museum numerous times, the last in 2011, when I had photographed its quirky human evolution diorama and associated exhibits.

Below is a brief selection of photographs from my previous visits to the MTA Museum.

The Neanderthal diorama seemed to have started out as a relief, and somehow turned into a half-sculpture as the work progressed.

One of the notable specimens in the evolution exhibit was this warped skull of an early hominin. Both this skull and the half-relief Neanderthal were photographed in 2011 - they were no longer on display at the time I wrote this post.

Aside from the evolution diorama, the museum also housed a sizeable collection of minerals, marine fossils, prehistoric mammals and (imported and outdated) dinosaur skeletons, as well as some awfully taxidermied animals from the present-day fauna of Turkey. 

An awful-looking Anatolian leopard, Panthera pardus tulliana.

A shrivelled assortment of Turkish snakes and lizards.

A great eagle owl, Bubo bubo.

Two other, ruffled-looking owls which I could not identify.

Various dried fish.

A horrid-looking ground squirrel, Spermophilus sp. (right), and a completely unidentifiable animal (left), looking like caricatures of people under the influence of heavy drugs.

Something that used to be an angora rabbit; one of the three famous domestic animal breeds (the others are the angora cat and the angora goat), originating from Ankara; the city that the MTA was located in.

A sea turtle, Caretta caretta, pretending to lay eggs among a diorama of sand, seashells and shattered, bone-dry crabs. The fake stock-image horizon and the ugly surroundings reminded me of a nuclear apocalypse. This was by far the most depressing animal diorama in the museum.

Finally, flamingos, Phoenicopterus roseus; and other waterbirds.

This concluded my brief tour of the museum. I was saddened to see the evolution diorama go, but one can still visit the MTA museum to see the other specimens.

PS: I also accessed an old documentary of the museum, you can view it below: