In 2015 I got a chance to see Mammoths and Mastodons: Titans of the Ice Age, a traveling exhibit that made its way to my local Field Museum of Natural History. Just as the named implied, the exhibit focused on the amazing relatives (not ancestors) of elephants, the Proboscideans. Personally, I try and visit this Museum at least twice a year and have enjoyed many of their temporary exhibits. This one was by far my favorite and, should it ever make its way to your neck of the woods, you should definitely check it out! Not only was it highly informative and visually appealing, but also encouraged visitors to touch and take photos with many of its lifelike models – definitely not the norm for museums.
The exhibit was as over-sized as its subject matter would imply and took up several large rooms. It was a perfect mix of information and visual candy and I loved the large heads of elephant relatives you could touch and pose with. Most of these creatures I’ve only seen in illustrations so these detailed replicas were like seeing them alive for the first time. First, was an actual ancestor of today’s elephants, Gomphotherium.
Some of the neatest Proboscideans, however, heralded from completely different branches of the elephant family tree.
Also included with this exhibit was a replica of “Lyuba,” a female Wooly Mammoth calf considered the best-preserved specimen ever discovered.
Another neat enhancement was the presence of non-proboscidean animals that shared North America. This inluded the giant short-faced bear and scimitar-toothed cat.
But the stars of this exhibit were definitely mammoths and mastodons! Mastodon means “nipple teeth” which you can definitely see when compared to other Proboscideans.
Not long ago I discussed visiting the Columbian Mammoth Monument in Waco, Texas. One thing that attraction should consider doing is building a replica like the one seen in this exhibit. Absolutely breath-taking!