Evolution at the Zoo: Prehistoric Park Edition

A few months ago I wrote a bit about how zoos incorporate evolution into their exhibits, including examples where extinct species are featured through dioramas or life-size replicas. The San Diego Zoo does a great job of highlighting recently extinct mammals in its Elephant Odyssey exhibit, and today I wanted to share one more example along similar lines – the Prehistoric Park at the Calgary Zoo.

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A Wrinkle in Time

Back in June, after hanging out in the Coal Age Galapagos for a few days, I spent a bit of time at some old haunts elsewhere in Nova Scotia. The Bay of Fundy is a pretty great place because you only have to drive a little ways in any direction to have totally new rocks with different and exciting fossils. If you pass through Parrsboro, you’ll find the Fundy Geological Museum – the home base for my first dinosaur dig experience back in 2004, but with a fresh facelift since I last visited 10+ years ago. Continue reading

I got all my rexes with me

Tyrannosaurs: Meet the Family is a traveling exhibition all about everyone’s favourite prehistoric predators, showcasing some classic dinosaurs and new discoveries. It’s currently hanging out at the Waterloo Region Museum just outside of Toronto, and I had a chance to check it out a few weeks ago when David Evans and I were invited to give an orientation to dinosaurs to the museum’s staff and volunteers. Here’s a quick photo tour of some highlights from this visit!

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Evolution at the Zoo

Zoos, aquaria, and natural history museums all showcase amazing biological diversity in their exhibits, but after years of visiting both kinds of institutions across the globe, I’ve noticed that zoos emphasize different messages than natural history museums. Natural history museums are great at telling the story of evolution, and explaining the science behind evolutionary biology, through exhibits based on palaeontology and biodiversity. Museums do a great job of explaining the role of extinction in shaping diversity in the past, and modern exhibit renewals are often doing a great job of linking changes in Earth’s history to the changes we see around us today.

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Rhinos and dinos and whales, oh my!

A few weeks ago I took a road trip down to visit the smaller Arbour sibling who is currently based at the University of Washington, and we made a point of visiting the Burke Museum on campus. The museum is about to be on the move, so in a couple of years this post will be out of date – despite it getting some shiny new digs in the near future, it’s still a pretty impressive museum for a university campus, and it has some unique treasures! Let’s get to it!

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Heroes in a half shell

In my continued quest to betray my dinosaurian research roots, I went to the American Museum of Natural History in New York to look at turtles! And what turtles they were – this is the skull of Ninjemys (the ninja turtle!), a giant meiolaniid turtle from Australia. Meiolaniids are the best turtles you’ve never heard of and it’s a crying shame that they don’t feature more prominently in prehistoric popular media.

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How to look at dinosaurs in a museum

I’ve been traipsing around North America a lot lately for a fresh burst of museum visits, which got me to thinking about the things I need to do in order to do research in museum collections. I thought I’d share some advice about visiting museum collections – consider this a mix of tips for beginners and experienced collections researchers alike. Obviously this advice is geared towards palaeontological research, but I bet it’s applicable to many other fields as well, and it would be interesting to hear about differences! Also beware, this post is more text-heavy than usual for me!
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