Museum of Natural and Cultural History offers Darwin Days programs

EUGENE, Ore. — (Feb. 2, 2012) — As part of the international celebration of the birth month of Charles Darwin, the UO Museum of Natural and Cultural History will present two speakers and a Darwin-themed family event during February.

The speakers, who are part of the museum's Darwin Conversations series, will focus on how historical periods of climate change affected mammals and how this can inform today's conservation policies.

On Friday, Feb. 10, Samantha Hopkins, UO professor of geology and curator of paleontology for the museum, will discuss how the fossil record of the Northwest may help set conservation priorities that maintain diversity in our changing landscape.

On Friday, Feb. 24, Joshua Samuels, curator and paleontologist for the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, will describe how habitats in the John Day Fossil Beds have changed dramatically over the past 50 million years. Samuels will discuss how mammals have responded to these changes and what impact the lessons learned from those adaptations may have on future conservation efforts.

Both speaking events will be held at 5:30 p.m. at the Knight Law Center, 1515 Agate St., in Room 175. Admission is free.

On Saturday, Feb. 11, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., families will be introduced to Darwin's discoveries and his famous voyage on the HMS Beagle during a special "Happy Birthday Darwin! Family Day." The event will feature several hands-on activities, including fossil imprinting, mask making, and animal bone comparisons.

Ann Craig, associate director of public programs at the museum, encourages families to engage with the subject matter. “The activities," she says, "are designed to provide families opportunities to discuss concepts of evolution and habitat."

Cake to celebrate Darwin's 203rd birthday and other refreshments will be provided. The event is offered at a special price of $5 for families (two adults and up to four children). MNCH members may participate free of charge. New memberships to the museum will be offered for half-price during the event.

About the Museum of Natural and Cultural History
The UO Museum of Natural and Cultural History is open Wednesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $3 for adults, $2 for seniors and youths ages 17 and under, and $8 for families (two adults and up to four youths). Museum members are admitted free. Guided tours are offered each Friday at 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m.

About the University of Oregon
The University of Oregon is among the 108 institutions chosen from 4,633 U.S. universities for top-tier designation of "Very High Research Activity" in the 2010 Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. The UO also is one of two Pacific Northwest members of the Association of American Universities.

Media Contact: Denise Sorom, marketing and communications specialist,, 541-346-5083.

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