Extreme size: Indricotherium, the largest land mammal known, greets you at the exhibit's entrance
The exhibit is Extreme Mammals and is put on in collaboration with the California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco; Cleveland Museum of Natural History; and our own Canadian Museum of Nature here in Ottawa.
As you might guess, mammals were the order of the day, from the largest to the smallest and everything in between. And in between was key - the exhibit features fossils and models of some cool transitional forms as well as those of our stranger cousins such as the extinct Macrauchenia or the familiar platypus.
Macrauchenia is straight out of a Star Wars or fantasy movie
Among the fossils, taxidermy samples and models were the stars of the show: a colony of sugar gliders. Though they were napping while we were there (extreme laziness?), the sole live animal display definitely drew a crowd, particularly among the younger attendees. There were also a few simple interactive displays.
Ambulocetus, or "walking whale" is one of the transitional forms on displayThe exhibit is unapologetic about evolution, which features heavily in both the displays and the educator guide as they discuss common ancestry, evolutionary trees and adaptation among other things including the requisite 'fun facts' and trivia. Did you know that a new species of striped rabbit was first discovered for sale in an Asian food market? (extreme deliciousness?)
Overall, Extreme Mammals is a cool exhibit, worth checking out if you're in the NYC area where it will be on display at the American Museum of Natural History until January of next year. After that, it will be on tour and if you're patient it's scheduled to arrive in Ottawa June 4 to November 6, 2011.
Local content: Puijila darwini, an early fin-footed mammal, was discovered in 2007 by a researcher from the Canadian Museum of Nature, Ottawa
Thanks to Brian from Laelaps who put me in touch with the museum for the blogger preview.
Images © AMNH