Travel to New Guinea this spring and follow a real-life adventure to discover exotic birds-of-paradise, an elegant example of extreme evolution, in the highly interactive exhibit Birds of Paradise: Amazing Avian Evolution, at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University.
Found only in New Guinea and parts of Australia, birds-of-paradise are known for their ornate feathers and tail plumes and elaborate mating rituals that include wild calls and crazy courtship dances. Co-developed by theNational Geographic Society and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Birds of Paradise reveals all 39 known species of these elusive birds and showcases the adventures of the two explorers who conducted groundbreaking research on them.
Birds of Paradise is on view May 3 through Sept. 1 and is free with regular museum admission.
The fascinating story of these remarkable birds is told through stunning imagery, compelling video, soundscapes, artifacts, and engaging interactive activities for both adults and children. Equal parts natural history, photography and science, the exhibit gives visitors an in-depth look at the lives of these birds in an engaging and enlightening way
“Every section has a hands-on activity, video or interactive component that tells the amazing story of these beautiful birds and the intrepid researchers who tracked them all down in the rain forest,” said Academy Exhibits Senior Director Jennifer Sontchi.
Birds of Paradise is based on the research of National Geographic photographer Tim Laman and Cornell ornithologist Edwin Scholes who made 18 expeditions over 8 years to the remote, untarnished rain forests ofNew Guinea. Using film, video and detailed observations, Laman and Scholes documented one of the most elegant examples of extreme evolution, a result of millions of years of sexual selection at work in an environment with plenty of food and no natural predators.
As they enter the exhibit, visitors will meet Laman and Scholes through introductory videos and explore a montage of all 39 bird-of-paradise species. “Dance, Dance Evolution” lets people dance along with the birds to learn their signature courtship moves, while the audience casts their votes for the dancer who does the best imitation. The first-ever video of the female’s point-of-view of a male bird’s dances is shown, captured through an innovative use of equipment created by Laman and Scholes.