Evolving Planet

Today we embark on an adventure, an adventure through time and space (but not outer space or inner space, just regular space). Welcome, to the Evolving Planet.

This is the Field Museum’s fossil hall, and it’s a great exhibit with tons of interesting fossils presented in a really accessible and immersive way.

We travel through the Big 5 mass extinctions, with each clearly marked with a discussion about how life on earth changed at each event. I’m skipping through the first couple of eras here because I’m a stinkin’ amniote worker and also I wasn’t very good at photographing some of the stuff in low-light settings, but rest assured there was an awesome shark fossil and many cool things in the Palaeozoic.

I have a secret love for the Permian, so imagine my delight when I stumbled upon a room full of pareiasaur skeletons (like this Bradysaurus) and Eryops and captorhinids. A bounty!

Also, hooray for non-Dimetrodon sphenacodontids! We got Dimetrodon AND Ophiacodon AND Sphenacodon! Whoa!

On to the dinosaur hall, there are some cool dinosaurs that you won’t see in every museum. Here’s Parasaurolophus cyrtocristatus, a species of Parasaurolophus with a shorter and more rounded crest compared to the species more often illustrated in books, P. walkeri.

And dwarfed by the giant Apatosaurus (?) is this comparatively little Rapetosaurus, a titanosaur from Madagascar.

Hey look, it’s a vintage-y Archaeopteryx reconstruction! Love the Victorian fancy pigeon look that’s happening here.

PALAEOSCINCUS SPOTTED. One thing that I really love is that a bunch of old Charles Knight paintings are still displayed with pride throughout the exhibit, with interpretive signage putting them into context for what we’ve learned since they were painted. Here we can see a classic ‘Palaeoscincus‘, an old interpretation of what Late Cretaceous ankylosaurs looked like back when we didn’t have as much information about nodosaurids vs. ankylosaurids. This fellow has the long, relatively unornamented snout and large shoulder spines of Edmontonia (a nodosaurid), and the tail club of Ankylosaurus (an ankylosaurid).

Let’s finish off with a quick peek into the Palaeocene! And what’s this, not one but TWO pantodonts? (Also, whoa, Coryphodon is really big.)

Bonus photo! In the fishbowl prep lab, they are working on Cryolophosaurus bones collected during the last expedition in 2011!

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