Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

One of our first stops on our Spring Break adventures was this museum.  Anyone who knows Evan knows that one of his first loves is dinosaurs.  This museum boasts the bones of a real Stegosaurus, which is Evan's favorite dinosaur (nope, not the T-Rex!).  He thinks Stegosaurus is just super cool with his bony protective plates and spiky tail and that Stegosaurus could protect itself from mean ol' T-Rex.  This museum boasts many interesting sights, but there was one special exhibit that really caught our attention.  The day before our museum tour, they had just delivered the nation's FIRST T-REX!!!  Yep, Mr. T-Rex had arrived from Montana where he had been discovered and previously on display and was being unpacked while we were there.  Now, unfortunately, it will be a lengthy process of actually getting Mr. T.Rex on display.  5 years people!!!  Apparently, every piece will have to be carefully inspected and photographed before it is repackaged and sent offsite to be mounted for display.  I guess we'll be making another trip in 2019 to check on him.  After a brief stop to watch the museum scientists' progress on Mr. T.Rex, we enjoyed touring some parts of the rest of the museum. I will likely have to break this post into two parts so we don't overload the system with all the photos we took.

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This is the building housing the museum.  It is the same Greek/Roman style as many of the buildings on the National Mall. 

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There was also an IMAX movie and a live butterfly pavilion exhibit.  We were going to pay to see the butterflies, but the boys were tired and hungry by the time we saw the rest of the museum. 

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I thought this sign showing the museum's name as also the National Museum of Man was kind of funny. 

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If you have seen the movie "Night at the Museum," you may recall the rotunda of this museum with the giant elephant in the center. 

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My boys are ready to explore. 

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This was where Mr. T-Rex was being unpacked. 

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This is a little of the story behind the T-Rex. 

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The long arduous task of unpacking begins.  

*Apparently, it is a very good thing we got to see all of these fossils because as of April 27, 2014, the exhibits will be closing until 2019 for renovations.  Yikes!

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Apparently, before there were "triceratops" there were centrosaurines with only one horn on their heads. 

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And then, they grew two horns.  I think they were called Diceratops or something like that. 

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And finally, they grew that third horn to become our beloved Triceratops.  

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Camptosaurus Dispar

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And Evan's beloved Stegosaurus.  I can say the dinosaur exhibit was a bit crowded as it was Spring Break for many school kids in the country.  

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By this point, this was about the only thing that could coax a smile out of this boy.  Evan and his beloved stegosaurus...we affectionately call him "Steggie."  

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Isn't he cute?  Haha!

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And Evan with the recreation of how Steggie may have looked millions of years ago. 

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And there must be a stand in for the real Mr. T Rex, of course. 


If  you love the "Ice Age" movies, you may recall some of these species.  My boys love those movies so we have seen them many times!

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I remember this slow moving creature in the procession of animals moving to avoid the coming Ice Age in the movie. 

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The period before the Ice Age and after the dinosaurs was a time for land grazing mammals like this one. 

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This could have been like a little sheep. 

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Early zebras

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A giant sloth...or as I like to call him "Sid."  

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I think this is a giant anteater.  Yikes! 

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Another one I remember from the movie.  I think this group was a funny mom and dad with their kids in the animal procession. 

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Diego the sabertooth

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And the star, Manny the Mammoth
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The boys had to have their picture with Manny. 

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Brody enjoyed seeing all of the taxidermy animals. 

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American Bison

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We love our wolves, of course.  Go Wolfpack! 

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Evan and Brody almost got eaten by a big bear! 

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This big polar bear was pretty intimidating looking down at us. 

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And those carnivorous carnivores. 

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This was another fun exhibit that reminded us of another favorite movie series, Madagascar.  I don't know if the museum planned it, but they had the main characters from the movie on display together.  This would be Gloria the Hippo. 

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Melman the Giraffe. 

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Marty the Zebra

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Yikes!  That leopard got his dinner. 


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We especially enjoyed this exhibit as it sort of made up for the last time we saw mummies when we couldn't take pictures at Discovery Place at home. 

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One of the mummy's coffin. 

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Some of the ornately carved and painted burial masks that are supposed to ensure the dead can be whole again in the afterlife. 

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Evan finally got his picture made with a real mummy. 

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And just in case you needed proof of its authenticity. 

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So freaky how much this mummy was intact after well over 2,000 years. 

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This one was pretty sad.  

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Sweet little boy.  What could have happened to him? 

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This is a mold of what his face may have looked like using facial reconstruction technology.   What a cutie! 

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The x-ray and CT scans of his skull. 

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And yes, his bones put him right about Brody's age. 

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This sweet little boy was about the same age as my sweet little boy! 
Sorry to end that on a sad note, but it really is a very interesting museum!

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  1. So, that is the most awesome place ever. I would love to take my little family there! How long did you visit the museum?

    1. We were there for about 3 hours or so and did not see everything. The kids were getting hungry and tired though so that was all we could handle for the day. Washington D.C. is definitely a great trip for school age children so hopefully you'll get to go one day. :-)

  2. It's all so interesting, I don't know where to begin!

    What if the one horned triceratops was actually a real unicorn and through time it was changed to a more horselike creature? Can you imagine?! I want that to be true!

    The mummies are fascinating. I actually won a big huge contest when I was a kid for writing a story about a mummy. I was taped reading it and was on TV several times. I'm intrigued by all of the things we can do with technology- the MRI, the facial reconstruction, etc. It's amazing.

    1. Well, you and Evan would be best buddies then since you are both just "in love" with mummies. And with all of the mysteries surrounding the theories of evolution, you may just be right about the unicorns. ;-)

  3. Wow! You sure saw a lot. I'm so looking forward to when Sam and Rachel are a little more into museums. And yes, the mummies made me a little sad but it's so interesting what we can (maybe) determine from studying them.


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