At an exhibition on ‘Human Origins, Genome and People of India’, there is a greenish grey skull, which is called the ‘Narmada Skull’. Astonishingly, the skull is about five lakh years old and was excavated as recently as 1982, in Hathnora, Madhya Pradesh.
This skull, according to the organisers, is a significant discovery, as it had shed light on the evolution of the present day humans from their hominid ancestors. Narmada skull is from a close relative of humans, classified as Archaic Homo sapiens.
These and several other interesting exhibits and charts on human origins and genome, along with a display on the lifestyles and fine arts of contemporary tribal communities, provided a glimpse into the course of human evolution, at the Anthropological Survey of India premises in the city.
The exhibition has been classified into two parts. The first part displayed in the ground floor of Anthropological Survey of India concentrated on the scientific aspects of evolution of humans and the genome. Charts depicting the origin of the universe, formation of Earth, the spontaneous surge of life on the planet, evolution of complex life forms and humans are displayed. Fossil samples of hominid ancestors discovered in parts of India also forms an interesting aspect of the exhibition.
At the genome section in the exhibition, several interesting aspects of DNA has been revealed. “99 per cent of all DNA bases are identical for every human being. Our DNA is 98 per cent identical to that of Chimpanzee,” reads a chart.
On the second floor, ethnographic artefacts of tribals of the modern day are displayed. Present among the artefacts are stone age tools, bows and arrows used by hunter gatherer tribes, fishing nets, musical instruments, instruments for religious rituals, musical instruments and photographs of tribals in their habitat, giving a glimpse into the creativity and craftsmanship of the tribals.
The ethnographic specimens are collected from tribals groups such as Toda, Kota, Mullu Kurumba of Tamil Nadu; Soliga, Jenu Kuruba, Malai Kudia, Badaga, Panjari Yerava and others of Karnataka; Minicoy Islanders of Lakshadweep Islands; and several other tribals from Andhra Pradesh, Kerala.
The exhibition also showcases recent research projects such as DNA sequencing of tribals, taken up by the Anthropological Survey of India. The exhibition concludes on May 24.