Saturday, May 23, 2009

Extreme Mammals at the American Museum of Natural History

Coryphodon has the most extreme brain-to-body-size ratio of any mammal living or extinct--and not in a good way! This diorama shows what the arctic used to look like almost a million years ago.

Introducing a smattering of "the biggest, smallest, and most amazing mammals of all time":
  • The tiniest mammal to ever roam the earth (at least that we know of) lived about 50 million years ago and was about the size of a thumbnail. It was called a batodonoides.
  • In addition to the duck-like bill and webbed feet, the platypus possesses yet another odd characteristic: a venomous spike on each back leg. Females are born with the spikes, but they fall off after about a year; males retain their spikes for life.
  • skunk fur is really, really soft (I always imagined that it would be coarse and never thought I'd get close enough to find out.)
  • horned beavers really existed!
Really, the selection of animals on view at the exhibit seemed like it would be nearly impossible to narrow down since all mammals, as the exhibit pointed out, are extreme in one way or another, but it was great fun to check out the animals they featured. In addition to extreme size, categories ran the gamut from horns or teeth to defense mechanisms. I took only one picture in the exhibit, but it was fun to spot other extreme mammals throughout the museum:

Duck for cover!

1 comment:

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