The Evolution of Birth

The Mütter Museum’s contribution to The Philadelphia Year of Evolution celebrating the two-hundredth anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth was the exhibit The Evolution of Birth. It explored physiological changes that occurred while early humans transitioned from quadrupeds to bipeds. As humans evolved into being able to walk on two feet, the width of the birth canal was reduced. These anatomical changes meant that a human woman usually required the assistance of another person in order to more safely give birth. 

Physiological changes humans underwent as they evolved into bipedalism resulted in the need for assistance giving birth and the development of obstetrical tools.

The exhibit explored the medical and physiological changes that accompanied bipedalism and featured a rare replica of a Chamberlen forceps, the original obstetrical forceps, and rare 19th-century French medical texts from the College’s Historical Medical Library.

The Mütter Museum helps the public appreciate the mysteries and beauty of the human body while understanding the history of diagnosis and treatment of disease.

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