Today my wife and I headed into New York and had an overall more enjoyable day at the AMNH than our last visit in February. We mostly chalked up the lower attendance to people being at home reading the new Harry Potter. Before continuing though, I have to say that I probably will not being visting the museum as much as I have in past years; prices for everything involved a trip are going up, so much so that it has become probhibitively expensive. $40 for train tickets, $55 for museum admission (museum + special exhibit + 2 IMAX films), a few extra bucks for subway fare, and a few dollars at Penn Station for a meal (we didn’t have enough foodstuffs at home to make a sandwhich), and overall I spent over $100 for the two of us to go to the museum. Granted, we could have skipped out on the special collection, the IMAX films, and paid $10 to get in (being that the admission prices are only “suggested”), but as much as I love the museum I don’t love it enough to spend over $100 on a day trip there every other month or so.
Enough with the rant, on to the pictures!
Sitting over the main entrance doors at the front of the museum was a group of pigeons, this one apparently taking pride in standing on an eagle’s head. I just found it funny to see what was probably intended to be a finely sculpted example of one of our national symbols being roosted and crapped upon by an even more “American” bird, the “Super Pigeon.”
Upon entering the Grand Rotunda one can’t miss a rearing Barosaurus protecting its baby from an Allosaurus, although I’m still pretty doubtful as to whether such a scene ever actually occurred (it’s as if the sauropod is saying “Here’s my underbelly, why don’t you slash it?” to the carnosaur). It’s still impressive, nonetheless.
While the Allosaurus threatening the Barosaurus has the proper posture, however, not all the museum’s depictions of the dinosaur have been renovated. This model, on a dinosaur phylogenetic tree, makes me think “Halp! Sum1 haz broken my tail! I can has update?”
My wife and I did get to actually enjoy the recently renovated Human Origins hall this time however, and while at first I thought the super-bright flash of my camera ruined the picture, I thought the above photo of an orangutan skeleton at the exhibit’s entrance was pretty neat all the same.
The flash had a similar effect on the above skull of the ancient primate Proconsul.
Unfortunately the lighting of the exhibit was not condusive to photography, but that’s me with some skulls of ancient “family.”
And that’s my wife with a replica of “Lucy.”
I was also very impressed by this ancient piece of artwork, originally drawn on an antler (here shown unrolled) 16-13 thousand years ago, found in Lortet, France.
While not in the Human Origins hall, this skeleton of a loris also proved to be an interesting subject (although the focus was on the shoulder, not the skull like I wanted).
Moving on to the Hall of Ornithiscian Dinosaurs, my wife snapped this one of me in front of the famous Sternberg hadrosaur “mummy.”
And here’s another next to one of Sternberg’s other famous finds, a Tylosaurus.
My wife wanted one of her in front of a Stegosaurus (armored dinosaurs appeal to her much more than others).
It’s a little blurry, but this head-on view of Deinonychus came out alright as well.
I also came across a fossil I had never seen before; a well-preserved skeleton of Protosuchus from the Late Triassic of Arizona.
I also made sure to check in on some of my favorite mammal fossils. The above skull is of the marsupial saber-toothed predator Thylacosmilus.
I must have not been paying attention during my earlier visits, as this time I also came across the skull of the marsupial “lion” Thylacoleo.
I also came across the above skull in the Human Origins hall, although I cannot recall to what genus this cat (it was a true saber-tooth cat) belonged. [Update: After a little bit of comparison, I believe that this is the skull of Megantereon, although I could still be wrong.]
I was also impressed by the claws that the giant sloth Megalonyx wheatleyi bore on its forearms.
And what would a picture post be without a shot of my cats doing something cute? Here’s Charlotte, cured up to Song of the Dodo. Where her interest in biogeography came from, I don’t know.
As for the Dinosaurs Alive IMAX film and the Mythical Creatures Exhibit, they were both “ok” but not especially thrilling. What was most curious about the IMAX film is that it has footage of the grad students who just published the Science paper working in New Mexico, with a few shots of their new fossil. Kevin Padian can clearly be seen in one shot, although for some reason he’s never introduced in the film.
The Mythical Creatures exhibit had some interesting artifacts, but there was no photography allowed (the security guards were very vehement about this) and there was a museum tour guide with the most nasal, grating voice I’ve heard in a while explaining different points of the exhibits. Barring these unfortunate circumstances, it will probably appeal to those who are unfamiliar with some of the scientific background of popular myths, but for those already familiar with dragons, mermaids, and the Kraken, it’s not especially exciting.
Overall, though, it was a good day at the museum. I wish that I could visit on a really slow day, even have the museum to myself for a day (or night) to peruse and study at my leisure, but I don’t think that’s ever going to happen. Still, every time I go back I notice something new or can apply some new bit of knowledge I’ve acquired to the fossils I see, and it’ll always be one of my most favorite places.