Name That Specimen, Smithsonian Edition

The fossil halls at the Smithsonian were great fun, but do you know what might have been my next most favourite hall? The Hall of Bones! I am not sure I have ever seen so many non-mammal skeletons on display. I also liked how a lot of the displays highlighted anatomy and functional morphology. The whole thing was just deliciously old-school museum in all the best ways: detailed, focused, and elegantly presented. In a way it was like stepping into a 3-dimensional anatomy textbook, but more fun because here are the bones right in front of you that you can see from all kinds of different angles, and compare easily.

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Look at that…whatever it is.

I had an unsettling moment today when it occurred to me that, perhaps, people don’t learn anything from museums.

I hope this is not true. I say this after having visited the marvellous Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, spending about 5 hours today perusing the galleries and shamelessly eavesdropping on people’s reactions to the exhibits. Kids were certainly excited about the exhibits and eagerly pointed things out to their parents. But what sorts of things did I overhear parents saying to their children? Continue reading