Living Link to Human Evolution research centre

Research Policy Office
Wednesday 9 April 2014

A woman stands in front of a mural at the Living Links CentreSince ‘Living Links to Human Evolution’ opened in Edinburgh Zoo in 2008, around 250,000 visitors per year have engaged with live, on-going science and multiple associated resources and activities. Through classes visiting the Centre and online teacher packs, the research is also integrated with Scottish Biology Highers and Advanced Highers, which recently came to include primatology and animal behaviour. The teacher packs contain a lesson plan and video resources.

Living Links is a University of St Andrews research centre established in partnership with the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland and based in Edinburgh Zoo. Visitors can ‘join’ the primate family tree, match human chromosomes with a chimpanzee’s to see the similarities and differences and view active, on-going cognitive research at the Centre. Large outside and inside enclosures house capuchin monkeys and squirrel monkeys together, species which form mixed-species groups in the wild. For further information on the public engagement activities of Living Links, please download ‘Living Links Public Engagement with Science’.

Three monkeys sitting on a branchLiving Links is designed to support studies by scientists from the School of Psychology and Neuroscience as well as the Universities of Stirling, Edinburgh, Heriot-Watt, Aberdeen and Abertay, as part of the Scottish Primate Research Group (SPRG) and is the result of world-leading primate research by the ‘Origins of Mind’ research group. Relevant research articles include “Assessing public engagement with science in a university primate research centre in a national zoo.” (PLoS ONE) and “The ‘Living Links to Human Evolution’ Research Centre in Edinburgh Zoo: A new endeavour in collaboration” (International Zoo Yearbook). For further information, please contact Professor Andrew Whiten, Director of Living Links.
Living Links was created through a generous grant from the Strategic Research Development Scheme of the Universities’ Scottish Funding Council, and public engagement has been supported by sponsorship from the Scottish Governments’ Science Engagement Scheme and from the Wellcome Trust.

Living Links is affiliated with the Zoo’s Budongo Trail exhibit where SPRG scientists also study chimpanzees.

MONKEY MEDICINE at Living Links in Edinburgh Zoo

View more videos on YouTube

In March 2014, Prof. A. Whiten was awarded the Royal Society of Edinburgh’ s Senior Prize for Public Engagement for his extensive, creative and unique forms of public engagement particularly as founding Director of the “Living Links to Human Evolution” Research Centre at Edinburgh Zoo.

The research is highlighted in the Leverhulme Trust Annual Review 2013.

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