Monday, September 8, 2014

On the Loose with Choclo and Oob

 The older kids were touring the National Gallery with an artist friend, so I took Choclo and Oob off to visit the Natural History Museum.

To get there, we passed through the sculpture garden, always a fun thing!

Here they are, thinking, with "The Thinker."

Yes, it is a giant rabbit homage to Rodin's Thinker.

Well, we thought about it, anyway.
 With just the younger boys, I thought it would be nice to spring for tickets to the butterfly enclosure.  What a win!

The first few weeks in September, there are very few people at the Smithsonian museums.  The tourists have gone, but the school groups haven't started yet.
 Choclo discovered that this little butterfly liked him very much.

How much?

It wanted to stay on him the entire time, and it kept licking his head!

 Choclo was quite charmed!

Oob found a butterfly on the floor, and got to pick it up and hold it with a paint brush.  There really is something magical about butterflies, isn't there?

After that we toured the insect zoo.  We got to hold a variety of creepy crawlies (horn worms, large grasshoppers, hissing cockroaches, strange beetles), and even got to see a tarantula have lunch.

That was neat!  We've been to 3 or 4 tarantula feedings, but this was the first time we saw one actually eat.  They usually eat once a week, but can go months without being hungry.
 Then we passed through the mummy section.  I've never been sure why it's next to the insect zoo, but it is.

We were very interested in their animal mummies: they have cats, falcons, crocodiles, and a (large) bull.  We also liked the shabtis and the canopic jars, but we did NOT like the unwrapped mummies.

Choclo, I think, is concerned about the ick factor.  I don't like it because I think it's not respectful to the dignity of the person who was mummified. They are still real bodies of real people (who did not consent to being unwrapped and looked at by random people).

So off we went, around the corner to the (animal) skeletons.  I was looking at the ray skeletons (interesting cartiladge!), when Choclo and Oob urged me to "Get the camera, it's Gamera!"
 We had a lot of fun looking at the different skeletons.  They group them together so that you can see the relationships.  This giraffe skeleton was near camel and bison skeletons.

Most interesting to me was the kangaroo skeleton: the foot bones are not at all what I thought they'd be like.  There is one big toe (and tarsal) with a smaller on on one side, but then the side toward the center of the animal has two wispy looking toes that look more like the wing bones of birds.  Very strange! Now I need to Google kangaroo feet: maybe they don't look the way I've always pictured them?
Lastly, we got a look at the Rex Room, the room where they are assmbling the new T Rex skeleton.  They are scanning and making models of some of the bones, and they had a 3D printer there showing how they were doing things.

If you look closely, there may be a Dr. Who fan on the loose...

UPDATE: on the kangaroo feet, yes, the medial (inner) toes  are nothing like I had imagined.  I am completely stumped as to why their feet are like that.  I would say that the inner two toes are vestigal, but then what happened to the fifth tarsal and toe?  They do have 5 fingers, so how is this arrangement beneficial? Here's a sketch, the one on the left is a normal kangaroo, the right is a tree kangaroo:

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