about a dream: Vienna Museum of Natural History

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Vienna Museum of Natural History

Here we are out in front. Check out that bit of sky there in the corner, too! Blue as can be! This is honestly the best day we've had all month.

Here's Maggie on top of a bronze elephant right in front of the museum.

First we went to the hall of mammals, where they have a rather impressive taxidermy collection. But you know what I like about stuffed animals? A) They're right there in front of you, at eye level, so you can get a good long look at them, and B) They don't smell (I'm forever traumatized by the NY Aquarium and their open-air penguin exhibit. I haven't been there since I was like, 6, so you know it was bad).

Check this out:
It's the southern elephant seal. I didn't even know these existed! It's both the largest pinniped (fin-footed animal, thank you wikipedia. I didn't learn too much at the museum, as most of the text was in German) and the largest carnivorous mammal in the world. I didn't know there were two kinds of elephant seals! I thought there were just the ones that we saw in California. I even did a report on elephant seals in the 4th grade, but do you think I picked up on this bit of wisdom in my research? No. Of course, there was no internet then... back then news of the existence of a southern elephant seal was probably still making its way up north, by boat of course.

Enormous. That thing is enormous!

Then we went downstairs for the minerals and dinosaurs. I had never heard of this particular creature before. Do you know what it is? Guess:
It's a terror bird. What an awesome name for an animal. That's us looking terrified! The plaque beneath it said these bad boys only went extinct 17,000 years ago, which would put them on the Earth at the same time as humans. BUT, Nick and I googled that, and apparently there's some real controversy over that number. More recent dating puts the youngest fossils at about 2 million years old.

Here's where hear mom's voice in my head. "How do they know? They think they know, but they don't. They're just making it up." The original skeptic, that's mom.

I tried to get the girls to look terrified for me, but Nina wasn't in the mood:
I think that's a cross between her "bored" face and her "I'm way too old for this nonsense" face. You decide.

We also saw some very cool minerals in the mineral hall. Guess what these are:
Salt crystals!

After all that, we were totally exhausted. We saw about 2/3 of the museum, but we cruised through at least half of that on top speed. There are only so many stuffed birds with German names that you can look out without getting totally overwhelmed and overstimulated.

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