The Wits School of Anatomical Sciences invites visitors to commemorate 100 years of faculty history and take a trip down the road of human evolution.

The Wits School of Anatomical Sciences is celebrating 100 years of the school’s existence with an exhibition at the Maropeng Visitor Centre in the Cradle of Humankind from September 23 to October 5.

The centenary looks back at some of the significant achievements of the school, including the Raymond A. Dart Collection, which is the largest human skeletal collection in Africa.

The exhibition at Maropeng springs from the school’s special relationship with fossils and paleoanthropology, which are key elements of human evolution.

The display, called ‘Anatomy 100’, offers opportunities to understand the building blocks of human life and boasts interactive activities such as extracting DNA from a strawberry, mock excavation of plastic skeletons and models that demonstrate basic human anatomy.

The aim of the exhibition is to encourage visitors to engage with how the past provides insight into our present as we look towards the future, by allowing attendees to interrogate our history through the treasured artefacts of Maropeng and the Anatomical Sciences School.

Dr Keneiloe Molopyane, archaeologist, biological anthropologist and curator of the celebrated museum at the Maropeng Visitor Centre, said what sets the exhibition apart from the usual fossil displays at Maropeng is its interactive nature.

“Members of the public not only get an insider’s view of the types of research taught at the School of Anatomical Sciences, but also get to interact with the researchers and students within the school,” said Molopyane.

“The exhibition has been designed as more of a hands-on activity than simply walking past curiosity cabinets filled with creepy surgical equipment or random body parts. There are many activities to take part in, such as a brain puzzle, trying your hand at histology, and a forensic excavation.”

PhD candidate at the Human Variation and Identification Research Unit of the School of Anatomical Sciences, Kimberleigh Tommy, said Wits students and staff should look forward to the exhibition as a way to understand how where we come from affects where we are today.

“The purpose of the exhibit is academic citizenship and to ensure that our knowledge and research work are not walled in by our establishment, but freely available, easily accessible and understandable to those who do not come from the same background,” said Tommy.

“This is in an effort to make the science accessible, to highlight the importance of the research work and also to interact with the next generation of anatomists!”

The exhibition is open to the public from 9am to 3pm every day until Saturday, October 5.

FEATURED IMAGE:  Lizanne le Grange, MSc Paleoanthropology points out the differences among anatomically modern humans, archaic humans and neanderthals. Photo: Pheladi Sethusa