Have you ever wondered what makes something an animal? The latest exhibition at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History aims to answer this question, taking us back 600 million years to the time of the Cambrian Explosion. This 20 million year period (a mere flash in the pan if you're thinking in geological terms) saw a sudden, massive increase in the number of new life forms on Earth, with the kind of body structures that we see in modern animals forming for the first time.
The exhibition showcases some fascinating fossils, including 55 unique specimens from the Chengjiang excavation site that are on loan from
The highlight of the exhibition, though, has to be the Cambrian Dive Simulator. This ingenious interactive display lets you 'swim' around the ocean floor during the time of the Cambrian Explosion, finding early animals and learning about them and their modern-day counterparts. Kids (and adults) will have a wonderful time hunting down Amplectobelua or Vetulicola cuneata and finding out how these animals fitted into the earliest ecosystem.
The First Animals exhibition is running until February 2020, so make sure you take a trip to the museum and learn about some of our most distant ancestors. You'll be introduced to a world that seems alien, but is in fact the foundation for our own - life, but not as we know it.