A twig on the tree of life

Over three billion years ago, life started as a seed that grew and evolved, becoming a great tree with many branches.

The tree of life has seen the creation and destruction of entire branches of related species. We are just one twig that sprouted only seven million years ago. We are the only leaf remaining on our twig, and we are dependent on the same tree we share with millions of other leaves…

As humankind, we are all part of the same leaf…

The differences we have seen in each other over centuries are skin deep. Our bodies are structured the same way, with the same organs and bones, and our genetic codes are 99.9% the same. Yet we often believe that we are different enough to discriminate against each other.

Our leaf will not be around forever

A leaf falls at the end of its season – this is the circle of life. But humankind’s unjust belief that we have dominion over nature is leading us to destroy whole branches of life for the temporary prosperity of our single leaf. This behaviour threatens the survival of the entire tree, without which we cannot survive.

So we need to learn about our origins

By understanding our shared roots in Africa, and by learning about our more ancient connections to other branches on the tree of life, we can find unity among ourselves, and resolve to conserve nature.

All from One™ exhibition

The physical version of the exhibition opened on 10 November 2015 and is touring South Africa. It has thus far stood outside the Standard Bank offices in Rosebank, Johannesburg, the Soweto Theatre in Soweto, the Iziko Museum in Cape Town, Maropeng in the Cradle of Humankind outside Johannesburg and the Sci-Bono Discovery Centre in Johannesburg.

The exhibition is a striking structure recalling both a DNA double helix and the skeletons of two large prehistoric animals. A smaller, reconfigured version of the exhibition was produced as part of the South African Treasures exhibition at the United Nation’s World Intellectual Property Organization General Assembly in Geneva in October 2016.

The All From One™ exhibition draws on scientific evidence about our shared human origins and the shared origins of all life forms in order to challenge commonly held ideas about humankind and our place in nature.

You will see that you are unique, but that you share strong bonds of similarity with all other people, based on a deeply rooted common humanity. As a species, you will see we are but one twig among millions on the tree of life that sustains us all.

Learn more about the four
pillars of the PAST All from One™ exhibition


Producers and concept creators: Andrea Leenen and Prof. Robert Blumenschine, Paleontological Scientific Trust
Exhibition: Trace
Content writers: Robert Blumenschine, Andrea Leenen, Lauren Segal
Curator: Lauren Segal
Designer: Nabeel Essa
Graphic Design: Josie Theron and Shannon Davis
Design Advisors: Clive van den Berg & Carina Comrie
Project Manager: Carol Sviridov
Text Editor: Sandy Shoolman
Scientific Advisors: Prof. Michele Ramsey, Prof. Himla Soodyall, Prof. Jody Hey, Prof. Nina Jablonski, Dr. George Chaplin, Prof. Anthony Barnosky, John Gurche