New Smithsonian hall will focus on human evolution

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The Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History plans to open a hall next year dedicated to the story of human evolution over 6 million years, officials announced Wednesday.

The nearly $21-million Hall of Human Origins will follow milestones in history -- when humans started walking upright and started speaking, for example -- as well as the effect of climate change and extinction of ancient species. It's scheduled to open on March 17, 2010, marking the museum's 100th anniversary on the National Mall.

This will be the Smithsonian's first permanent exhibit focused solely on human evolution. It will include hundreds of fossils, reconstructed faces of early humans and 75 cast reproductions of skulls. Interactives will show the human family tree and current research around the world.

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