Online “Museum” Compares Humans with Our Closest Evolutionary Relatives

 

October 02, 2009  |  

The Museum of Comparative Anthropogeny (MOCA) Showcases a Collection of Comparisons Between Humans and Other Hominids

The UCSD/Salk Center for Academic Research and Training in Anthropogeny (CARTA), an organized research unit of the University of California, San Diego, today announced the launch of its online Museum of Comparative Anthropogeny (MOCA), available at http://carta.anthropogeny.org/moca/about.

MOCA is a one-of-a-kind, web-based collection of comparisons between humans and our closest evolutionary relatives, the so-called “Great Apes” – chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas and orangutans.

“This is a novel effort to bring together existing basic information about human-specific differences from other hominids, information which is currently limited, and widely scattered,” said Ajit Varki, co-director of CARTA.   “Having this information in one place could lead to new insights, trans-disciplinary interactions and ethically sound studies that might explain uniquely human adaptations and specializations.”

Using easy-to-navigate comparisons between humans and these other hominids, with an emphasis on uniquely human features, MOCA aims to communicate basic information to a broad audience of scientists from various disciplines as well as interested members of the public. Such comparisons are very useful in an approach to explain the origin of humans, called anthropogeny, Varki added.

“The site is being launched at an early stage so that interested readers with expertise on specific topics can provide feedback via the Web site,” said Varki. “MOCA is a perpetual work in progress, in that new information and topics will continue to be added as they are discovered.”

The virtual museum is organized into 24 different domains of knowledge, each with multiple topics grouped by areas of interest and scientific discipline. Each topic will cover existing basic information about a particular difference between humans and non-human hominids. CARTA organizers plan to have experts comment on various aspects of a topic, such as when differences between humans and Great Apes began to appear, or possible evolutionary causes for those differences.

MOCA will also include topics that debunk “popular wisdom” about claimed or assumed differences between humans and Great Apes, for example the false assumption that other hominids do not exhibit cultural behaviors.

“For these and other reasons, MOCA is called a ‘museum’ and is not meant to be an encyclopedia or database,” said Pascal Gagneux, assistant professor of cellular and molecular medicine at UC San Diego and CARTA’s associate director.  “Like a museum, the MOCA site is intended be an inviting place for people to browse and think, perhaps provoking further research.”

The online museum was produced in close collaboration with information technology experts from the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) and the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2).  

About CARTA

The Center for Academic Research and Training in Anthropogeny (CARTA) was established between UC San Diego faculty and the Salk Institute for Biological Studies as a virtual organization to promote trans-disciplinary research into human origins, drawing on methods from a number of traditional disciplines spanning the humanities, social, biomedical, biological, computational and engineering, and physical and chemical sciences. As the word anthropogeny implies, CARTA’s primary goal is to explore and explain the origins of the human phenomenon.

About SDSC

As an organized research unit of UC San Diego, the San Diego Supercomputer Center is a national leader in creating and providing cyberinfrastructure for data-intensive research. Cyberinfrastructure refers to an accessible and integrated network of computer-based resources and expertise, focused on accelerating scientific inquiry and discovery. SDSC is a founding member of the national TeraGrid, the nation’s largest open scientific discovery infrastructure.

 # # #

Related Links:

MOCA: http://carta.anthropogeny.org/moca/about
CARTA: http://carta.anthropogeny.org/
SDSC: http://www.sdsc.edu/
Cal-IT2: http://www.calit2.net/
Salk Institute for Biological Studies: http://www.salk.edu/

Media Contact: Debra Kain, 619-543-6163, ddkain@ucsd.edu

 

 

 




Media Contact

Share This Article


Related News

2/22/2018
Using artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques, researchers at Shiley Eye Institute at UC San Diego Health and University of California San Diego School of Medicine, with colleagues in ...
2/20/2018
UC San Diego Health now offers patients with epilepsy another non-pharmacological way to treat seizures. For the more than one million individuals who live with uncontrolled seizures despite taking me ...
2/13/2018
Researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine and Shiley Eye Institute at UC San Diego Health have discovered that a chemical compound that activates ATF6, a gene associated wit ...
2/8/2018
Ever wonder why obese bodies burn less calories or why dieting often leads to a plateau in weight loss? In both cases the body is trying to defend its weight by regulating energy expenditure. In a pap ...



Follow Us