REASON 20 TO VISIT #ULTIMATEDINOS: THE OTHERS!
Often when speaking about the prehistoric world we get caught up in dinosaurs. The word “dinosaurs” has sort of turned into an umbrella term for everything Mesozoic. But it wasn’t just dinosaurs that lived in the prehistoric world. No, there were a ton of “others” as well. But unfortunately most just end up being called dinosaurs anyway.
- If you lived during the Triassic Jurassic, or Cretacious, you’ve probably been called a dinosaur at some point.
- In fact, if you lived in the Permian era, right before the dinosaurs, you’ve probably been called a dinosaur.
- I mean, really, if you’re big, and have sharp teeth and look ever so reptillian, you’ve probably been called a dinosaur.
But’ it’s not the kids who are getting this wrong when they come to the Museum and visit Ultimate Dinosaurs: Giants of Gondwana. It’s actually the kids who get that Quetzalcoatlus isn’t a dinosaur. Or that the Mosasaur is actually just a swimming reptile. You see, it’s often the parents who make that mistake.
This isn’t necessarily a problem either. I actually think it’s just a great learning opportunity! Dinosaurs, I believe, are the gateway to science. Soon after falling in love with dinosaurs, you start to learn more and more about them.
- What makes a dinosaur? How did they evolve? Who are their ancestors and descendants?
Because dinosaurs are so alluring to kids, they quickly learn all these things, and start to explore deeper sciences, taking interests in chemistry, or physics, or math (actually a thing that’s HUGELY important to palaeontology).
There’s such a wealth of information out there about dinosaurs, that kids can quickly absorb it all, unlike many of their parents, who grew up before things like wikipedia. So it’s no wonder they can’t tell the difference between a dinosaur and a not dinosaur. What this does create is a wonderful opportunity for kids to teach their parents, which is always a beautiful sight.
And with that, we have a whole set of wonderful prehistoric animals, that, though ferocious, or beastly, big or small, are not dinosaurs.
LET’S TALK ABOUT THIS PHOTOSET!
- First two photos are the impressively ferocious Prestosuchus! His head is absolutely giant. It’s honestly startling to see a carnivore on four feet, when compared to all the other meat eaters in the exhibit. Really only dinosaurs, and their bird descendants hunted on two feet! And humans too, obviously.
- You can learn more about what that circle thing in Prestosuchus’ eye here!
- Then we have a whole wack of crocodile cousins. Maybe you’ve noticed this too, but prehistoric crocodiles have been getting a ton more press recently. Secretly, @ROMPalaeo has some very special prehistoric crocodiles they’re studying. I hope to talk about them some day!
- Hamadasuchus has been described as a very opportunistic creature, filling the role that the fox does today, hunting and scavenging.
- Elosuchus looks much more like the crocodiles we’re used to, with that distinctive long snout.
- Aegisuchus is the shield croc! A very recent find. The current idea is that this part of his skull would have been able to change colours, perhaps to entice a mate, or scare away a predator Check out this article!
- I’ve written to great length about Simosuchus, the pug like crocodile. Perhaps you’ve seen the post, you know the one with all the pug gifs?
- The Stereosternum find is absolutely stunning. Look at the detail preserved in this wonderful skeleton. Not only does Stereosternum have a great name, but he’s also a swimming reptile! See those great swimming feet?
- The last two bizarre lumpy fossils are the remains of two incredible creatures! The one of the left is the skull of a therapsid, an early, EARLY mammal (yes, this our ancestor, from WAY back). And the one on the right is the skull of rhynchosaur, a type of herbivourus reptile!
Have you visited? What’s your favourite part of #ultimatedinos?
When your nostrils are on top of your head, the easier it is to breath undetected as you stalk your prey.
Check this out. See how you can barely see this wonderful beast swimming through the water? By having your nose on top, you can enter stealth mode AND breath too!
And this guy? Better watch out. #Hook
Here we have the dermal scute of a a 75 million year old crocodile!
Dermal scutes are pretty cool. Not quite scales, not quite bone, or keratin, scutes are layer upon layer of these features, that together compose a sort of armour. Scutes are primarily used for protection, whether from predators, or from inter species battles over mates and territory.
Examples of animals with dermal scutes are the pangolin, the turtle, the armadillo and the crocodile.
Dermal scute fossils are helpful because they give us a better idea of what animals looked like, in the same way that fossilized skin imprints help.
SSSSsss… c-CAW! RrAWR! Animal Weekend is Here!
I used to walk through the halls of my high school (yes, high school - I don’t know what was wrong with me either) making animal noises. Not the normal ones like “moo” and “oink”, but the more obscure ones (I guess it’s the hipster in me). For instance, my impression of the Komodo dragon had a sort of snake and bark sound, and the giraffe, since I had no idea what sound they make (do you?) was just, “giraffe, giraffe!”. I pretty much made the sounds up as I went along.
I love ALL animals. Some I’m also afraid of.
I guess it’s weird that I did this in my teenage years, since unabashedly making animal sounds is definitely a fun aspect of every kid I’ve ever encountered. But, the call of the wild never really left me. I remember I taught a 5 year old group at Saturday Morning Club once called Animal Alphabet. Every week as we walked through the galleries, we would make the sounds of the animals we saw in the cases. It would start pretty calmly… stalking past the tiger, we would “purrrr”; tiptoeing passed the snakes, we would all speak in parseltongue; scurrying past the cockroaches, we’d “hissssss”. In the end, the kids abandoned the idea of mimicking different animals and decided all they wanted to do was roar since it was the most fun – even when we passed the giant squid, though it did evoke a few “ooh”s and “aaah”s.
Apparently giant squids roar.
Pretending to be an animal is so liberating. It allows you to fully embrace your imagination and become something new entirely. You can fly like the albatross, jump like a cricket, even nap like cat. I love how kids can snap into such imaginative roles and really run with it.
Where I’m going with this…
This long weekend (May 19, 20, 21) is Animal Weekend at the ROM and we want to help inspire that imagination in everyone – come check out our animals! We’re even going to have a bunch of LIVE animals (for real!) around the ROM and in our galleries for you to meet and interact with.
We’re also making animal masks (PLEASE MAKE A POLAR BEAR – they’re my favourite), and our resident artist from Arts for Children and Youth will be back to create an inspired-by-life painting before your eyes.
Also cool, you’ll have a chance to meet professionals who get to study animals and their habitats for a living. Scientists like Amy Lathrop and Bob Murphy will have more live animals (in addition to the ones in the galleries) for you to meet and special specimens for you to learn about. This is a great opportunity for all those budding biologists and veterinarians to ask all the questions they’ve always wanted answered about animals. These great folks can probably also really help you out with your snake impersonation.
So come out to Animal Weekend!
Mooo! Quack! Girraaafffe!