Friday, July 3, 2009

Me And The Houston Museum Of Natural History

It was vacation time again and I thought it was time to take a trip to the Houston Museum of Natural History as mentioned on my Boneyard post, if you recall. Yep and now I wanted to put my Paleo knowledge to the test and enjoy the exhibitions. Despite the fact, the museum was holding special exhibits, I could only choose one thing to do, sadly. I chose the permanent exhibits as I could not see "Leonardo" like I hoped. At least I enjoyed the the regular exhibits just fine, though I do not have pictures of everything, sadly. I do, however, have pictures of my visits to the Paleontology Hall.

First, let me tell you the layout of the museum, so you can get an idea of where we were in the Museum (Trust me, you'll enjoy the pictures much better if you know where I was). When we first entered the building, we entered a spacious lobby with the Ticket Counters, the Planetarium, which seemed to have interesting programs playing that day, the IMAX theater, which happened to be in 3-D (and in association with one of their new IMAX films, they had giant, life-sized inflatable sharks all around the lobby with a large life-sized inflatable whale shark on top of the roof near the entrance. Unfortunately my mom wasn't feeling well and we were celebrating her birthday too (which was a few days before, but I was staying with my Grandma's before she came down to stay with us and take me back that weekend, 4th of July weekend to be exact.), and encountered the longest line I had ever seen in my entire life!!!! It stretched about half way across the lobby (and, believe me, readers, it was a long line! If I had any photos of the lobby, you would see what I'm talking about, which I don't.) And, on the right were the entrances to the main part of the museum (starting with the Paleontology Hall ) and then, farther down, was the Gift Shop with, which had the most unusual thing in the most unusual place, which you'll see what I'm talking about in a few moments, so, please, bear with me. As soon as we purchased our tickets, we bypassed the crowd and entered the main exhibit hall (the Paleontology Hall), of which we saw an impressive display of fossils from the Paleozoic on the right with illustrated murals on the wall with fossils of the flora and fauna of each particular period. They had Trilobites as big as a man's torso, Crinoids, and, reaching the Permian, they had, what seemed to be the fossilized remains of an amphibian or reptile. And, on the left, (assuming your entering from the lobby), the Mesozoic begins, with specimens of the major animal groups, from the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods, somehow skipping the Triassic period. Here is a sample of what I saw when I was there:
As you can see, it's me in front of a Dromaeosaurus fossil. Theropod tracks on the back of a theropod (Tyrannosaurus rex , I think...or Dromaeosaurus) mount next to a nest beneath the glass.

Me in front of a Triceratops horridus skull.

Those are a sample of the Paleontology Hall at the Museum. If you want to see the rest of my pictures, shoot me an e-mail and I'll be happy to show them to you. In fact, let me explain the rest of the layout of the Muesum. Above the Paleontology Hall where you can see the Edmontosaurus adult and Juvenile next to a Tyrannosaurus rex cast skeleton from a specimen from the Hell Creek Formation in Montana. From up on the balcony on the second floor, you can still see the Diplodocus carnegiei and Quetzocoatilus (sp?). Up on the second floor is the Gem Gallery as I like to call it where you head into dark corridors with illuminated cases of beautiful gems and minerals. There's also the Halls of Texan and African Wildlife where, in the glass cases are stuffed animals (no, not the toys, I mean, dead animals) and displayed them in recreations of their natural habitats. Downstairs, is the local Mummy and they have a King Tut exhibit where they have the room built like the tomb, though the decor and treasures are gone. The "crack" in the wall has a creepy illumination of wildlife and the middle of the room is a Huge "table" where Tut laid in the tomb, except he's obviously not there and the computer was inside showing CT images of the corpse. There's even CT scanning of Tut's skeleton the visitor can manipulate. It's interactive. With the Mummy, there's a number of amulets and mummified animals in the nearby case. As you can see, the Houston Museum of Natural Science/History is pretty cool. I recommend you visit it at least once the next time your in Houston, TX, USA. It was also the home of "Leonardo," if you recall, temporarily.

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