\ Visualizing Evolution: My Royal Ontario Museum visit

Friday, December 5, 2008

My Royal Ontario Museum visit

I'm back! Just as I predicted, there weren't many VE posts in November. Over the week of Thanksgiving, I visited Toronto, Ontario, where I went to graduate school and lived for two years. I spent an entire day at the ROM (the Royal Ontario Museum) taking photos. Tons of photos. Maybe some will even be useful as references for scientific illustrations in the future. Here are a few of them now:

It was my first time seeing the inside of the Crystal, and the reopened Dinosaur Hall. I think I noticed the Oviraptor first:
The coolest dinosaur. The new exhibit had a couple of features I really liked. For one, the displays included these nice illustrated cards which showed in color which parts of the fossil were real and which were casts.
... so that when you look at the actual fossil, you know what's actually original! Which is something fossil nuts appreciate.
In addition to lots of impressive dinosaur mounts, which I won't show all of here, the dinosaur hall also had some more humble displays prominently featured, such as this one comparing living and fossil pine cones:
Sometimes the surprising thing about evolution is how organisms don't change over time! Similar to this was a display of fossil insects, with live--er--recently killed... extant? insect specimens for comparison:
Nice cricket!
Tucked away in a side room, I almost missed Plateosaurus, a critter I'm all-too familiar with due to its similarity to Massospondylus.
He's right by the bathroom. Seems pretty disrepsectful for the most famous of prosauropods... And this Pachycephalosaurus was just too : D for words:
: D

There was a mom there with a couple of young kids, a boy and a girl. We were the only ones in the dino hall, and I was just terribly impressed with them. They were going through very slowly, not just looking and saying "oh cool!" but reading the descriptions, watching the videos, and she would ask them questions, like "so is a chicken a dinosaur?" to which they'd give an enthusiastic "yeah!"

I bumped into the kids at the Bambiraptor, where I informed them that Bambiraptor was like a tiny, feathered Velociraptor and probably the cutest thing that has ever lived on the planet.
The Bambiraptor display also included a few other feathered dinosaurs such as Caudipteryx and several panels about the bird-dinosaur relation, including this illustration showing skeletal morphology comparison. Or, for the kids, look at how the dinosaur and the bird have lots of bones the same!
Tucked away in the corner of the 2nd floor of what used to be the building's main entrance, they have a neglected collection of Burgess Shale fossils. It's such a dissapointment that these don't have a better location. They're not even properly lit back there in the dark. And they should be on display someplace obvious... too many people will miss them! And they have an Anomalocaris!
This is one of my favorite critters of all time. And I had to use the flash on my camera to even get a photo.
Move the Burgess Shale display, ROM! Please put it somewhere better or at least put some lights over it!

I arrived at the Rom at about noon on Tuesday, photographed everything in the dino and mammal halls, then had some lunch, wandered the bird room and bat cave, went upstairs to the archaeology/history sections, and finally saw the special exhibit on diamonds, where no photos were allowed and arm guards were everywhere. I got about 6 inches from the Incomparable Diamond which was... well... you know what? It's a rock. I just couldn't get excited about it.

I guess it is kind of pretty, though.
It was pretty dark by the time I left...
After buying this most excellent book at the gift shop, I left the ROM and met a couple of Asian women for Korean food and then ice cream. Or Yogurt...? I think it was some sort of ice-yogurt hybrid. It was delicious.
It was a good day.

1 comment:

incomparable said...

the incomparable is one of the most rare and beautiful diamonds in the world. I wish to see it sometime soon