Exposition Espèces, la maille du vivant


the Web of life

Permanent course

Who are we? The place of the human species and its interactions with the rest of the living world are a universal concern.

Humans are animals that use both rationality and symbolism, relying on these two non-conflicting approaches to make sense of this complex world. The exhibition therefore places symbolic perspectives, which are specific to each culture, alongside the complementary and universal perspective of science, combining a quest for meaning and thirst for knowledge.

The extinct animals

The dodo, the Tasmanian wolf and the passenger pigeon met their end soon after encountering our species. Steller's sea cow, a gentle marine mammal discovered in 1741 in the Bering Strait, was exterminated after only 27 years of hunting. Only very few skeletons remain, including the one displayed at the Musée des Confluences.

The exhibition route


The human being: a symbolic animal

From animal mummies to microscopes, the beginning of the experience gives varied examples of perceptions of the world, where humans define their place and relationships with other living things.

Read more
L’être humain, un animal symbolique

Humanity in the diversity of life

The rest of the experience deals with the place of humanity in the world through the scientific approach, with a presentation of contemporary, objective and universal knowledge. The classification of species makes it possible to comprehend this huge diversity. It is represented by a sculpture: the bush of life. Its many branches give tangible expression to the relationships between living things, with no preferred direction and no choice position.

Read more
L’être humain, dans la diversité du vivant

The human being: a distinctive animal

The experience continues with a focus on the specificities of Homo Sapiens, characteristics that are shared with other species, such as tool use, awareness of the body and transmission of acquired knowledge. While these abilities are not possessed by us alone, their combination and level of execution and development make humans a distinctive animal in the living world.

Read more
L’être humain, un animal particulier

Humans faced with their impact

Like all other living beings, humans are linked to their natural environment and interact with other species. However, in order to satisfy their needs, they significantly impact the web of life. The consequences of this on biodiversity are worrying and leave humanity facing major societal decisions.

Read more
L’être humain face à son impact
Scientific Committee
  • Martine Bungener, economist and sociologist/li>
  • Marc Jeannerod, neurophysiologist
  • François Kourilsky, biologist
  • Guillaume Lecointre, zoologist and systematician
  • Christian Lévêque, hydrobiologist
  • Claire Salomon-Bayet, philosopher
Continue the visit

Societies, human theatre

Exposition Sociétés, le théâtre des Hommes