Fossil Hominids: The American Museum of Natural History

The American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) is one of the great museums of the world.

The AMNH's Hall of Human Biology and Evolution is a new exhibit which opened in 1993. This may be the best exhibit on human evolution in the world. It is certainly the best one I have seen (in my limited experience).

There are full size dioramas of Australopithecus afarensis, Homo erectus, Neandertals, and Ice-age modern humans, along with panoramic paintings by artist Jay Matternes. Most importantly, there are casts of around two dozen of the most important fossil hominid skulls (including Sts 5, OH 5, WT 17000, ER 1813, ER 1470, ER 3733, Java Man, Peking Man, Sangiran 17, Arago, La Chapelle-aux-Saints, the Neandertal skull, St. Cesaire, Kow Swamp), and full casts of the Lucy and Turkana Boy skeletons. Also present are displays of stone tools and cave art, and interactive computer activities about fossil hunting.

Other attractions at the AMNH:

The newly-redesigned vertebrate fossil halls, which occupy the entire fourth floor, are stunning. Starting with the first primitive vertebrates, they go through the early fishes, amphibians and reptiles, pterosaurs, dinosaurs, primitive mammals, and recent mammals.

The new Biodiversity exhibit is impressive, and the life-sized blue whale model hanging above the cafe is awe-inspiring.

I would like to thank Ian Tattersall, Ken Mowbray, Gary Sawyer and Barry Landua for their kindness during my visit. I was able to visit their offices and was given permission to examine and photograph the first generation casts of the Peking Man fossils.

This page is part of the Fossil Hominids FAQ at the Archive.

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