Because I write for ScienceBlogs, I have been invited to a special sneak preview of the “Extreme Mammals” exhibit hosted by the American Museum of Natural History, where I was a postdoctoral fellow for two years. This exhibit features the biggest, smallest, most amazing and generally the weirdest mammals to ever swim, fly or walk the face of this earth. “Extreme Mammals” opens to the public on Saturday, 16 May, but my goal is to take a lot of photographs to share with you here on the evening before the exhibit opens, so stay tuned to see my “Extreme Mammals” photoessay!
From the press release:
Extreme Mammals explores the surprising and sometimes bizarre world of extinct and living mammals. Featuring spectacular fossils from the Museum’s collections, the exhibition will examine the ancestry and evolution of numerous species, ranging from huge to tiny and speedy to sloth-like, and showcase animals with oversized claws, fangs, snouts, and horns.
Extreme Mammals will also explore how some lineages died out while others diversified to form groups of well-known mammals living today. Planned highlights of the exhibition include fascinating specimens — from the egg-laying platypus to the recently extinct Tasmanian wolf — and fleshed-out models of extinct mammals like Ambulocetus, a “walking whale.”
Visitors will encounter an entire skeleton of the giant, six-horned Uintatherium, with its dagger-like teeth; a life-size model of Indricotherium, the largest land mammal that ever lived; one of the oldest fossilized bats ever found; and a diorama featuring the hippo-like Coryphodon; the ancient tapir Thuliadanta; and the tree-climbing carnivore Vulpavus in the once-warm and humid swamps and forests of Ellesmere Island, located in the Arctic, about 50 million years ago.
The exhibition will also include dynamic media displays, animated computer interactives, hands-on activities, touchable fossils, casts, taxidermied specimens, and live animals that highlight mammals’ distinctive qualities and illuminate the shared ancestry that unites these diverse creatures.
Extreme Mammals is organized by the American Museum of Natural History, New York, in collaboration with the California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco; Canadian Museum of Nature, Ottawa, Canada; and Cleveland Museum of Natural History. Major funding for Extreme Mammals has been provided by the Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Endowment Fund. Additional support for Extreme Mammals has been provided by the Eileen P. Bernard Exhibition Fund and by Harlan B. Levine, MD and Marshall P. Levine.
According to the press release, Will Harcourt-Smith, a postdoc in AMNH’s paleontology department will be on-hand for interviews and wireless will be freely accessible so live-blogging this event is a distinct possibility.