My stepfather is an alumni of Columbia University, and as such he and his family were invited to a special presentation at the American Museum of Natural History yesterday. We went before the museum was open to see the new exhibit "Ancient Fossils, New Discoveries," the classic dino room and, most interestingly, the big bone room.
The new exhibit is very interesting because it emphasizes not just what has been learned from the displayed specimens, but how and why these conclusions were reached. Our guide for that room explained why they chose what they did to display, and that a new priority was to showcase how a paleontologist works. This was great, because the observation and deduction process itself is as interesting as any mystery. There was also a great emphasis in the exhibit on interactive presentations, such as the one shown above. The final leg of the journey was the most traditional, but our guide for the classic dino room gave us an interesting perspective on what was there. The approach he used was about trait usefulness... that is, the natural selection that led to each stage of the dinosaur's development.
But it was the big bone room that was the real unique experience. This is a part of the museum that is not seen by the general public. It is not a big room, it is a storage facility where they keep the big bones. Most of the assembled skeletons that you see in the museum are casts, and part of the reason for this is because the fossilized bones are really heavy. Our guide for the big bone room allowed us to hold a piece of a medium sized dinosaur pelvis, and it was superheavy. There was a forklift in the big bone room. She showed us why they extract some skeletons from their beds and not others; the positions can offer a lot of insight into the behavior of the living creature. For example, one of the specimens we saw was of a female apparently incubating her young.
Having live guides was great because you could then go anywhere with your questions. They also gave much more anecdotal information, both in terms of the paleontology in question, but also for the dinosaurs themselves. One particularly memorable moment occured in the classic dino hall, where the guide showed us two embedded skeletons of raptor dinosaurs that died during a drought. Most animals do not die of thirst in a drought, he said, they migrate towards the remaining water supply and the food runs out before the water does. He pointed out the contents of their stomachs, and told us that the last act of these two creatures was one of cannibalism; they ate their young in the hopes to survive long enough to reproduce again. They failed.
This tour is actually making me seriously think about volunteering over at the AMNH. It has always been my favorite museum, and finding out a bit more about the process that goes into preparing a display as well as what can be gleaned from the fossil record was something I found really exciting.
A lot of dinosaurs had feathers, by the way.
I went to Tim's house later, and brought Sally a stuffed snow leopard from the museum shop. This is a socially responsible gift, because proceeds go to the preservation of wildlife. Sally didn't care, though, she just loved that she had such a big soft, fuzzy thing to grab and hug. She drooled on it, which, according to Patsy, is a sign of great affection.
Yoinked from jenvargas
1. ONE OF YOUR SCARS, HOW DID YOU GET IT?
I have a scrape on my hand from work.
2. WHAT IS ON THE WALLS IN YOUR ROOM?
Lord of the Rings poster, a map of the world, Rear Window and Yojimbo one-sheet reductions, a painting of a tropical sunset my grandmother had done and an Alien relief.
3. WHAT DOES YOUR CELL PHONE LOOK LIKE?
Small and blue.
4.WHAT KIND OF MUSIC DO YOU LIKE TO LISTEN TO?
Film music mostly, but also rock, jazz and concert hall.
5. DO YOU KNOW WHAT TIME YOU WERE BORN?
6. WHAT DO YOU WANT MORE THAN ANYTHING RIGHT NOW?
To be making Ecology... or a girlfriend.
7. WHAT DO YOU MISS?
8. WHAT IS YOUR MOST PRIZED POSSESSION?
My music and movies and the media to play them.
9. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE SMELL?
Mom's pasta sauce in the crockpot.
10. DO YOU GET CLAUSTROPHOBIC?
11. DO YOU GET SCARED IN THE DARK?
I love the dark.
12. THE LAST PERSON TO MAKE YOU CRY?
13. WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE COLOGNE / PERFUME?
I don't wear cologne or perfume.
14. WHAT KIND OF HAIR DO YOU LIKE ON THE OPPOSITE SEX?
I don't care. I've never had a preference.
15. WHERE CAN YOU SEE YOURSELF BEING PROPOSED TO?
In a frozen Hades, it seems.
16. COFFEE OR ENERGY DRINKS?
Neither. But I'd rather have coffee than an energy drink if I had to pick one.
17. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PIZZA TOPPING?
18. IF YOU COULD EAT ANYTHING RIGHT NOW WHAT WOULD IT BE?
19. WHO IS THE LAST PERSON YOU MADE MAD?
Dan. But we've since talked, and we're okay.
20. DO YOU SPEAK A DIFFERENT LANGUAGE?
21. WHAT WAS THE FIRST GIFT SOMEONE EVER GAVE YOU (OF THE OPPOSITE SEX)
I was given a Gameboy because my ex wanted me to play this game that she liked. It was literally the worst gift ever.
28. WOULD YOU FALL IN LOVE KNOWING THAT THE PERSON IS LEAVING?
29. WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO TELL SOMEONE HOW MUCH THEY MEAN TO YOU?
I would assume to be honest, but that never works for me.
30. SAY A NUMBER FROM ONE TO A HUNDRED:
Fifty-seven. It's just the number that popped in there (after one hundred thirty-two, for some reason).
31. BLONDES OR BRUNETTES?
No, you just don't get it. I really don't have a preference. I just like what goes well on the girl.
32. WHAT IS THE ONE NUMBER YOU CALL OFTEN?
My work pager.
33. WHAT ANNOYS YOU MOST?
Stupid people. And there are a lot of them.
34. HAVE YOU BEEN OUT OF THE US?
35. YOUR WEAKNESSES?
36. WHERE WERE YOU BORN?
Long Island Jewish, New York.
37. FIRST JOB?
At a local deli.
38. EVER DONE A PRANK CALL?
39. WHAT WERE YOU DOING BEFORE YOU FILLED OUT THIS SURVEY?
Looking at my friends page.
40. IF YOU COULD GET PLASTIC SURGERY WHAT WOULD IT BE?
Why? Do you think I need some?
41. WHY DID YOU FILL OUT THIS SURVEY?
Because it looked interesting.
42. WHAT DO YOU GET COMPLIMENTED ABOUT MOST?
43. WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF ALCOHOL BECAME ILLEGAL?
Find other recreational drugs.
44. WHAT DO YOU WANT FOR YOUR BIRTHDAY?
World peace and goodwill towards Man. I seriously can't think of anything right now.
45. HOW MANY KIDS DO YOU WANT?
Don't you need to have something of a sex life even to be thinking about answering this question?
46. WERE YOU NAMED AFTER ANYONE?
I was indeed named after a relative of mine, but I don't recall whom.
47. DO YOU WISH ON STARS?
48. WHICH FINGER IS YOUR FAVORITE?
What kind of a question is that?
49. WHEN DID YOU LAST CRY?
I can't remember.
50. DO YOU LIKE YOUR HANDWRITING?
I like my printing. I never do cursive anymore.
51. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LUNCH MEAT?
Mortadella or Pastrami. My Italian and Jewish palettes, respectively.
52. ANY BAD HABITS?
53. WHAT IS YOUR MOST EMBARRASSING CD ON THE SHELF?
I >gulp< do have a copy of the Gladiator soundtrack and I'm not proud of that fact.
54. IF YOU WERE ANOTHER PERSON, WOULD YOU BE FRIENDS WITH YOU?
55. WHO ARE YOUR BEST FRIENDS?
In alphabetical order: aerolyndt, Chana, Dan, Mad Mike, Tim, Raz, suitboyskin, and waystone. I'm sure I'm missing people.
56. DO LOOKS MATTER?
I'm sure they do.
57. HOW DO YOU RELEASE ANGER?
I listen to music.
58. WHERE IS YOUR SECOND HOME?
Where I keep my tools at work.
59. DO YOU TRUST OTHERS EASILY?
60. WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE TOY AS A CHILD?
First it was the Star Wars stuff, then it became The Transformers.
61. HOW MANY NUMBERS ARE IN YOUR CELL PHONE?
72 entries, most of them doubles or triples.
63. DO YOU USE SARCASM?
It is necessary for basic survival.
64. HAVE YOU EVER BEEN IN A MOSH PIT?
65. WHAT DO YOU LOOK FOR IN A GUY/GIRL?
There is nothing in particular, save being somebody that I can get along with.
66. WHAT ARE YOUR NICKNAMES?
Swashbuckler, Muffin Man, etc.
68. DO YOU UNTIE YOUR SHOES WHEN YOU TAKE THEM OFF?
70. WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE ICE CREAM FLAVOR?
Therea are so many, this isn't a fair question.
72. WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE COLORS?
73. do you like Heather Bierlair?
74. WHO/WHAT DO YOU MISS MOST RIGHT NOW?
I refuse to answer this question on the grounds that it may incriminate me.
75. DO YOU WANT EVERYONE TO ANSWER THESE QUESTIONS?
I'd like to see it happen.
76. WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW?
I'm actually listening to see if the toilet tank is doing what it's supposed to.
77. LAST THING YOU ATE?
Some (normal) Brownies Patsy made.
78. LAST PERSON YOU TALKED TO ON THE PHONE
suitboyskin, last night.
79. THE FIRST THING YOU NOTICE IN THE OPPOSITE SEX?
82. FAVORITE DRINK?
84. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE SPORT?
85. HAIR COLOR?
Why does this keep being brought up? What is this fixation that this meme has with hair?
86. EYE COLOR?
Again, whatever works with the girl in question.
87. DO YOU WEAR GLASSES?
Zach, 13-year-old half brother.
89. FAVORITE MONTH?
October or November, when it isn't torrential.
90. YOU LIKE SUSHI?
I love sushi.
91. LAST THING YOU WATCHED?
A Discovery Channel program about life before the dinosaurs.
92. FAVORITE DAY OF THE YEAR?
Thanksgiving. Or one of the Pesach seder days.
93. ARE YOU TOO SHY TO ASK SOMEONE OUT?
94. SUMMER OR WINTER?
I prefer Winter to Summer, but Spring and Autumn to both.
95. KISSES OR HUGS?
96. RELATIONSHIPS OR ONE NIGHT STANDS?
Either one would be welcome right now ;) but seriously, relationships.
97. WHO IS THE MOST LIKELY TO ANSWER THESE QUESTIONS?
Probably suitboyskin who takes all the memes I post.
98. WHO IS THE LEAST LIKELY TO ANSWER THESE QUESTIONS?
99. WHAT BOOKS ARE YOU READING?
At the moment, I'm reading Cameron Crowe's original Fast Times at Ridgemont High book.
100. WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO AFTER YOU FILL OUT THIS SURVEY?
Yoinked from suitboyskin, with whom I am getting a lot of Ecology work accomplished again...