General
11 Nov 2008

Evolution revolution: monkey around with new OU Darwin website

Take yourself back in time with Devolve Me

Take yourself back in time with Devolve Me

See yourself as you would have looked millions of years ago with a fun face-morph tool, Devolve Me, on The Open University’s new Darwin website, www.openuniversity.co.uk/darwin.

By uploading a photo to Devolve Me, you can take your image back to how you might have looked as an Australopithecus afarensis (3.7million years ago), a Homo habilis (2.2million years ago), a Homo erectus (1.8million years ago) or a Homo heidelbergensis (500,000 years ago). You can then send it on to your friends so they can see your journey back in time! The free game is kicking off the University’s activities for Darwin200, the celebration of Darwin’s bi-centenary in 2009.

Jonathan Silvertown, Professor of Ecology at The Open University, said: “Devolve Me is a fun way to explore the amazing fact of human evolution. The game is just a small part of the Darwin website, which is a shop window for our comprehensive programme of activities as they will unfold during the Darwin anniversary year. Watch this space!”

A new short course, Darwin and Evolution, has been launched and leading University academics have produced a new book, 99% Ape: How evolution adds up. 2009 will bring three television series and a one-off special with David Attenborough co-produced by the BBC and The Open University, and a Europe-wide mass public survey of evolution in snails will help everyone get involved in evolution research.

Editors Notes
The Open University’s Darwin Celebrations
The Open University is a proud partner in Darwin200, a national programme of events celebrating Charles Darwin’s life, his ideas and their impact around his 200th birthday on 12 February 2009.

Expert Comment:
The Open University has a number of internationally-recognised experts on evolution, Darwin and his life available for comment:
- Professor Jonathan Silvertown, Professor of Ecology
- Dr Peter Skelton, Reader in Palaeobiology
- Dr David Robinson, Senior Lecturer in Biological Science
- Professor Jim Moore, Professor of the History of Science

Web resources:
www.openuniversity.co.uk/darwin
Find out more about Darwin and his theory, related courses and see yourself as you would have looked millions of years ago with our fun face-morph tool Devolve Me. You can also enter the prize draw for a copy of the new book 99% Ape: How evolution adds up.

The site has information on Darwin exhibitions and events throughout the UK, links to related YouTube video clips, online chat forums discussing the social impact of his work, OU Worldwide merchandise, OpenLearn free taster units, details of OU courses you can study and much more.

Courses – Continue the learning journey
S170 ‘Darwin and Evolution’ – This course explains and explores the science of evolution for those with little or no scientific background. Other related courses include:
• S104 – Exploring Science
• S193 – Fossils and the history of life
• S366 – Evolution (Level 3, advanced course)

Book – 99% Ape: latest evidence explained by OU academics
In 99% Ape: How evolution adds up experts from The Open University explain this complex subject and guide the general reader through some of the evidence. Read the latest on Darwin’s finches and how new species evolve, uncover the flaws in ‘intelligent design’, find out what evolution has to say about psychology, the development of the human mind and morality and how we are still evolving. The book is edited and contributed to by Jonathan Silvertown, Professor of Ecology.

Evolution Megalab – OU experts leading evolution research
Supported by the Royal Society and the British Council, Evolution Megalab is an online public experiment, bringing Darwinian theory to life. Members of the public are being asked to contribute to a massive survey of banded snails in gardens and public open spaces right across Europe. Using the internet, people will be able to report their findings to the Megalab project, and they will receive personalised interpretations of their observations in their own language. The results will be compared with historical data to test for evolutionary change in response to climate warming and changes in predation pressure over the last 80 years.
Evolution MegaLab launches in April 2009: www.evolutionmegalab.org

BBC Co-productions – Extending education to all
The Open University is working with the BBC to co-produce three TV series and a special one-off programme that consider the impact and legacy of Darwin’s theories and ideas:
• Tree of Life (Working title; BBC ONE) - Sir David Attenborough argues the case for the importance of the science of evolution.
• Life (BBC ONE) - capturing the most extraordinary and awe-inspiring animal survival behaviours ever shown on TV.
• Darwin’s Dangerous Idea (Working title; BBC TWO) - Andrew Marr explores the impact of Darwin’s theory in science, society, political movement and religion.
• A Year in Darwin’s Garden (Working title; BBC TWO) - entomologist and farmer, Jimmy Doherty, recreates many of Darwin’s ground-breaking experiments.

The annual Open University Lecture for 2009 will be given by Professor Richard Dawkins on Darwin and will be webcast. Find out more at www.open2.net

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