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National Museum of Natural Science, Taiwan*
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Urchin Knowledge
The Amazing Facts about Echinoids
The 3rd Exhibition Gallery, Life Science Hall
December 16, 2015 – June 19, 2016

Technology grows like a sea urchin: long spines of ability radiate out towards specific needs and desires.
- Rebecca G. –

Sea urchins are recognizable marine animals. They belong to the group called echinoderms, which includes sea stars and sea cucumbers. Sea urchins employ their remarkable spines and muscular tube feet covering on their bodies to move around on the sea floor. These spiny crawlers started early in earth life history. The earliest urchin fossils can be traced back to as early as 450 million years ago of the Late Ordovician Period. Up to now sea urchins occur at all depth and all climates. There are more than 700 species of sea urchins distribute globally from wave-swept intertidal zone to dark deep sea bottom, from warm tropical coral reefs to icy-cold polar seas. People harvest several sea urchin species for feasting their reproductive glands. Due to the over harvesting and habitat deterioration, the number of sea urchins has drastically reduced in the wild, which may cause the cascades of ecological change and impact other marine life.

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Comprehensive in scope, yet intimate in scale, the National Museum of Natural Science presents a rare glimpse at the exotic and a fresh look at the amazing creatures. Featuring hands-on activities, dramatic specimen and fossil displays, colorful photos and videos, the new exhibition “Urchin knowledge: the amazing facts about Echinoids”, which opens on Wednesday, December 16, in the Museum’s 3rd Gallery, draws on the peculiar body structure of urchins to explore echinoderms’ extraordinary evolutionary success and their impact on our lives.

Visitors face real challenges with interactive exhibits designed to engage and address questions about their daily lives in an organic format – Is the urchin's mouth similar to a claw machine? What is Aristotle's lantern? Can their teeth literally chew through stone without getting dull? How urchins protect themselves from predators? Why is the sea urchin a master of disguise? Are all urchins like fuzzy balls? What do they do all day? All these special interactive displays will introduce visitors of all ages to the amazing world of sea urchins and the ocean exploration films will take them on a multimedia journey of discovery into the surface and deep oceans of the world. The centerpiece of the exhibition — “Urchin House”, a huge urchin shell model— will immerse visitors in the astounding structure of sea urchins and a relaxing environment as well.

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There are many, many interesting facts about sea urchins waiting for you to discover. If museum goers are tired of entertaining exhibits, they can learn about new research concerning urchin’s history, habitats, or ecology, and explore displays of urchin fossils and specimens selected from the nation-renowned collections of the Museum, which is highlighted by a rare soft-spined sea urchin Lissodiadema lorioli. This specimen was collected in 2014 by Dr. Huang Hsing-drow, a marine biologist of the Museum and the organizer of the exhibition, at a night dive in Kenting. Most but not least important, a documentary made and narrated by Huang tells the story of urchins off Taiwanese waters, where he and museum colleagues have been surveying for many years.

Sea urchins show us that animals radically different from us, even ones without a brain, can survive successfully after long evolutionary history. However nowadays their biodiversity are threatened and their populations are declining due to greed by humans. Education and conservation efforts are being promoted to help preserve these amazing creatures. Everyone can do their part so that all the species of sea urchins can continue to thrive. The Museum cordially invites you to discover the weird world of this cute creature with spines on its back!

  • Guided tours: 10am & 1pm
  • Admission is included in the gallery tickets.

Urchin knowledge: the amazing facts about Echinoids” is organized and presented by the National Museum of Natural Science.