Sleep, saber-toothed tiger… The Natural History Museum brings extinct species back to life

The dodo, with its large beak and massive body, stops. He looks at you questioningly. An impressive large saber-toothed tiger, whose canines measure almost 28 centimeters, yawns a few feet from your head. A traveling pie with pink wings, also called a migrating pigeon, lands on your hand. All these species have disappeared, but the National Museum of Natural History in Paris is bringing them back to life, as part of a new augmented reality exhibition, which opened in mid-June and is now part of the permanent installations.

Article reserved for our subscribers Read also In France, extinction threatens more than 2,400 species

In one of the rooms of the great gallery of evolution, the “Revivre” project, carried out in collaboration with the Saola studio, brings eleven species modeled in real size to life in turn. A voice, which tells the story of these animals and details the reasons for their disappearance, guides the stroll for about fifteen minutes. In this device, a screen point between the animal and the visitor, simply fitted with glasses. The holograms are superimposed on the natural decor of the gallery and the stuffed specimens retain all their importance.

“I really care about the materiality of the objects that we present and the fact that this experience does not cut us off from reality, explains Bruno David, the president of the Museum. And, of course, we wanted the scientific accuracy to be as precise as possible, and there was a lot of back and forth with our researchers. “

To marvel to incite to protect

Because beyond the innovative and fun aspect, the ambition is to raise awareness of the threats to living things. The Red List of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the most comprehensive global inventory of the status of plant and animal species, lists 37,480 threatened with extinction, including African elephants and the North Atlantic right whale. In 2019, the Intergovernmental Scientific and Political Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) warned that one million animal and plant species – or one in eight – risk disappearing from the surface in the short term. from the Earth or from the ocean floor.

Article reserved for our subscribers Read also African elephants are officially threatened with extinction

The dodo, this bird of one meter high incapable of flight, is emblematic of these extinct species: its population was decimated in less than a century, after European sailors landed on Mauritius where it lived, in the end of the XVIe century. Man is also responsible for the disappearance of the traveling pie, whose population was counted in billions of individuals. In a few decades, hunting got the better of this bird, whose last representative died in a zoo in 1914.

You have 35.85% of this article to read. The rest is for subscribers only.