As a child, I loved U of M's Exhibit Museum. Fortunately, the excitement I felt learning about ancient life has not waned in the slightest as I have aged. You can imagine my excitement, then, at being invited to an exclusive party at the Museum recently. A party I will always remember as The Dinosaur Party.
The Exhibit Museum's Rotunda at night.
This Allosaurus fossil is what started it all for me: the love of dinosaurs, then science, and ecology. It was good to see her again.
The Mastodon is Michigan's state fossil. If you are tired of being laughed at by paleontologists at parties because you use the words "Mastodon" and "Mammoth" interchangeably, let me explain the difference for you. Mammoths have higher skulls and longer tusks than Mastodons. Mammoths were plains dwellers and were not found in Michigan. Mastodons though, lived in forests and died out in Michigan less than 5,000 years ago. The most important difference between Mastodons and Mammoths can be seen in their teeth:
Mastodon means "nipple-teeth" and refers to the high crowns that can be seen in this picture. These teeth were adapted for chewing forest vegetation. Mammoths on the other hand, had flat crowns on their teeth, much like today's elephants. This allowed them to grind grasses and other plains vegetation. The more you know!
Dorudon, is that you? Honestly, I'm a little rusty on my cetacean evolution, but I can tell you that is certainly not a Basilosaurus.
It's interesting I took so many more pictures of mammals than dinosaurs and other prehistoric reptiles. I suspect I have an subconscious bias against non-mammalian animals. I hope these two reptiles make up for it:
Isn't this little Pterosaur cute?
More pictures at Damn Arbor's Flickr