Tag Archives: fossils

The Natural History Museum

4 Sep

Given a three-day weekend, relatively little homework, only moderate pressure to get my grad school apps done rightthisinstant, and free admission to a museum that has a brand new dinosaur hall, I think the odds were very low that I was going to do anything else today. And considering how I basically lived there last fall, before my spring courses took over my life.

Adult? Sure. Do adults really spend their weekends looking at dinosaurs? Because I am totally on board with that.

The dinosaurs, they were nifty. I think, as someone who was raised to value nerdy things like this, there is always the possibility that I might take seeing dinosaurs for granted. It is, after all, kind of a big deal that scientists are able to reconstruct, with even a modicum of certainty, dinosaur skeletons from the fossils found, let alone reconstructing lifestyles, diets, etc.

As with chemistry, paleontology is not my thing, but if it’s yours, more power to you. One sign struck me as somewhat odd, however:

Reads "We know them as skeletons, but dinosaurs were once living, breathing animals much like us."

I’m not sure what it was, exactly, but something about “We know them as skeletons” makes me laugh. Maybe it’s the idea that this point needs clarification — that someone (hopefully a child), reading this, suddenly realizes that dinosaurs weren’t just skeletons when they were alive. You never know. Stranger things have been believed.

Anyway. The new dinosaur hall was the star of the day, but of course I couldn’t pass up my Fin Whale Passage. I love that room. The whale sounds, the giant skeleton suspended from the ceiling, the low lighting, the benches. Honestly, I could live there.

Architecture -- like chemistry and paleontology -- is another discipline I can appreciate, especially when it comes to suspending something that heavy far above my head.

One little girl, running into the room, yelled, “It’s a wooly mammoth!” Her parents corrected her (thankfully). I guess maybe when you’re that small, the lower jaw might look like tusks? But that wasn’t even my favorite overheard of the day. That honor had to go to a girl talking with her mom about an exhibit on how different animals walked based on their varying body conformations:  “But I’m not in my body, I am my body!” I don’t think she was old enough to know quite how hard she was kicking poor Descartes, there. Nevertheless, it works.

And finally, with no segue: shades of Cary Grant’s character in Bringing Up Baby —

But where's the intercostal clavicle?