Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Science: Day 14 -- Meeting a Paleontologist at the Natural History Museum

We met a Paleontologist... and it was awesome! This was our paleontologist -- Dr. Larry Dean Martin, and this is the largest Mosasaur ever discovered. It was found here in Kansas. Kansas used to be an ancient ocean, you know? So there are all kinds of fun sea monster fossils here. We learned about how we know about dinosaurs and "sea monsters" and other fun fossils, despite them being long extinct. "Science isn't that hard," said Dr. Martin, "mainly it's common sense. You know what they ate by looking in their stomachs." The kids really liked him. He was cool.

A duck-billed dinosaur. We learned about the fun noises that they could probably have made with their heads. Very cool.

The fossilized contents of a mosasaur's stomach. Wow, no wonder we could learn so much about what they ate!

One of the huge fish the mosasurs ate. Wow! "How do we know Kansas used to be an ocean?" asked Dr. Martin, "where else would such a big fish swim?" he said, "See, science really isn't that hard, is it, kids?"

Dinosaur tracks found in Osage City, Kansas. That's where dad is from. Very cool! Wonder if he knows about these?

These were examples of dinosaurs found around Kansas. Not too many dinos are found around here, since this was the edge of the ocean, but sometimes things got stuck in the mud, like those tracks above or a dinosaur or two. We learned that going down to the creek or the river is probably the easiest place to find fossils. We will likely be making trips to explore the nearby creeks soon. Angus will be all over it.

That would be the largest complete Pteranodon skeleton ever found. It has a 21 foot wingspan. And it was found here in Kansas. It likely fished in the ancient ocean. Pretty cool, especially since Angus LOVES pterasaurs.

There were close to 30 of us there from KC Homeschool. I think everyone had a really good time. After we scared Dr. Martin away :), we all converged on the rest of the museum.

The bug room was a big hit. That is an action shot of Angus jumping off of the bug crawling tunnel. Can't you tell from the blur?

Angus and Winnie observing fly species and their respective male and female characteristics through spy glasses.

Winnie never passes up a chance to stare through a microscope.

How alike is Angus to a chimpanzee? He checked it out.

There is a new exhibit on Charles Darwin, which I had to take a photo of, even though Zhara was too past crazy and hungry to care by the time we got to it.

All in all, a very successful field trip, if I do say so myself.

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