Neanderthals go to Washington (National Museum of Natural History)

Roundup: Pop Culture & the Arts ... Movies, Documentaries and Museum Exhibits

"It's about everyone, about who we are as a species," said Rick Potts, director of the human origins program and curator of anthropology at the museum, standing next to a life-size bronze statue of a Homo sapiens holding a piece of meat.

The museum's new $20.7 million (£13.8) exhibition hall, dubbed the Hall of Human Origins, provides visitors an "opportunity to connect their personal life to the evidence that human species evolves over million of years," museum director Cristian Samper said as he unveiled the wing on Wednesday.

Visitors can gaze into the eyes of reproductions of Homo erectus and Australopithecus who populated the planet for millennia. A photo booth transforms a curious onlooker's traits into those of a Homo floresiensis (or "hobbit") or Cro-Magnon.

Among the 300 or so objects, including more than 75 exact replicas of skulls, are two important guests loaned for three months by the Museum of Man in Paris.

"They are among the most famous fossils in the world and it's the first time they are on display in the US," said Potts as he stood before Cro-Magnon fossils that date back 27,000 years.

They were discovered in Dordogne, south-western France in 1868, barely 10 years after Charles Darwin published his On the Origin of Species...

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