Wednesday, June 25, 2008

High Times in the (REALLY) Olden Days





I played hooky yesterday and skipped out of town with one of my best guys -- grandson Alex. The Sam Noble Museum of Natural History in Norman has just recently opened the Paleozoic Gallery in the already stunning Hall of Ancient Life. Also on view now, until August 24, is an exhibit called "The Science of SuperCroc." Alex and I are big dino fans so this destination was a no-brainer.
They've bitten off a big chunk -- about 4 billion years from the formation of Earth to the end of the Permian Period (251 mya). Alex and I gave short shrift to the first billion years or so -- drawn into the Cambrian period by giant sea creatures floating above the floor. Excellent reproductions and reconstructions of ancient marine life -- like a huge, armored fish (Dunkleosteous) forever chasing a Cladoselache (an early cartilaginous fish that looks very shark-like) put likely skins on bony fossil remains. Other exhibits feature carboniferous swamps and forest complete with beautiful, supersized dragon-flies (Meganeura). This new gallery is a worthy prelude to the already-established galleries.
Across the main hall, in the temporary exhibits gallery, SuperCroc holds sway. Sarcosuchus was probably the largest crocodile to walk the earth. His skull was six feet long, making him about 40 feet in all. Also in the exhibit is a skeleton of Nigersaurus, a sauropod found in the same region as Sarcosuchus. This strange-looking dino had a head that looks like a shoe box. Suchomimus, also on display, looks like dino put together by a committee -- a sauropod body with a crocodilian head. This one has been rigged so that its mouth and head can be operated with levers.
The Sam Noble has been a winner since it opened -- it's even better now. If you have kids, get them down there before SuperCroc leaves. No kids? Borrow some -- or go by yourself. This is one cool place to spend a hot afternoon.

1 comment:

Love, Music, Wine, & Revolution said...

Love the photo of Alex in the jaws of Super Croc! Can't wait to see you and take silly pictures in a few weeks!