Giant rhino relative Indricotherium (Paraceratherium?) greets you as you enter the exhibit. Ancient rhino relatives are really cool and don’t get enough love!
Uintatherium, a weirdly ornamented archaic Palaeocene mammal, and not one you see in too many museum exhibits.
And check out this sivathere skull – this is a giraffe relative!
The exhibit includes a nice diagram showing the changes that occurred between the earliest synapsids, like Dimetrodon, to modern mammals, and even talks about the concept of ‘crown groups’.
This floofular Macrauchenia looks like something straight of Jim Henson’s workshop. Macrauchenia is a South American hoofed mammal that’s part of a larger group of hoofed mammals from that continent of confusing and uncertain ancestry – we’ll see a few more later.
Lots of exhibits showcased particular features of mammal anatomy and showed convergences across clades. Here’s Thylacoleo, the marsupial lion, with Thylacosmilus, the marsupial sabre-tooth in the background.
Speaking of teeth, this exhibit showcased extreme incisors – that’s a narwhal skull in the back, and an extinct elephant called Platybelodon in the front.
And more weird teeth: the extinct giant marsupial Diprotodon.
Real mammoth hair!!!
Way back in the Eocene, things were a bit toastier than today, and Arctic Canada was a lush forest inhabited by Coryphodon. This guy is one of the earliest really big mammals that evolved after the K-Pg extinction, but doesn’t have any close living relatives despite its hippo-like appearance.
One of the most spectacular specimens in the exhibit, this Scarrittia is a notoungulate, another of those weird South American hoofed mammals. It probably would have looked somewhat rhino-like when alive, but I’m always weirded out by the lack of a gap between the front teeth and the molars, like you see in things like cows and horses.
Bonus alive mammals! We got to meet several living animals during the opening festivities, including…
Jerry the binturong, from the Conservators Center.
Plus this shy armadillo…
and curious bat-eared fox from the Flying Fox Conservation Fund!
Extreme Mammals is at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences until March 27, 2016, and is well worth a couple of visits! Have you seen Extreme Mammals on its tour? Tell me about it in the comments!