Jasmine and Jahnu Visit the Field Museum

On Thursday, my sister’s family came in to Chicago to stay with us for a few days. Stacey, Shane, Jasmine and Jahnu all trekked in and we met up at the Field Museum.

I was expecting a big line, but there weren’t all that many folks (it was in the middle of the day). Guess I’m too used to weekend traffic. After buying my tickets underneath a giant whale, I set off to find my niece and nephew. I got a call from Stacey saying they were in some kid’s play area, but couldn’t reach her via phone. Once we were inside the museum, our cellphones were pretty much shot.

After finding them downstairs, we roamed around a bit and made our way up to the main floor. They had come in at the lower level, so it was a blast to watch Jasmine and Jahnu ascend the stairs to see the immensity that is the main level (technically Stanley Field Hall).

Meeting Sue for the first time.

Inside a dwelling in the Ancient Americas exhibit. Shane and Stacey, always looking for a teachable moment, told the kids how people used to cook and sleep in rooms like these. They talked briefly about how some people have less things than they currently have, and how the kids should be thankful for what they have.

Pointing to the room, they asked Jasmine and Jahnu: Can you imagine living here?

Immediately, the kids went to the food to see if it was real. As if to answer her parents’ question, Jasmine responded: Can you imagine eating rocks for food?

After a brief pause, we had to explain to her that the plate on the ground was full of beans. Not rocks.

Jahnu and Jasmine, using stones to grind up some rocks corn.

I’m not sure if the exact name of this section – but it was comprised of several hallways full of mounted animals (dioramas). I had dashed off to get some food while everyone else explored this area, so it was something I didn’t get to see a lot of. I later learned that this was one of Justin’s favorite areas – and no wonder. I definitely need to make my way back here.

Jahnu and Jasmine, posing with Mr. Polar Bear.

There is a very unique feel to the entire area. There’s a muted pastel, retro aged kind of thing going on here. Hard to describe, but it’s a section you should definitely check out if you’re in the museum.

Outside the Pritzker Laboratory for Molecular Systematics and Evolution.

When I was in high school, I worked at a Noble Roman’s. I learned how to toss/spin pizza dough, and would do so in a kitchen area that had a large window looking out onto the dining room floor. There was a platform on the other side, where kids could walk up and watch us work.

That job was kind of similar to this. Just kinda.

Looking down from the upper floor. Sue is about to pounce on two unsuspecting tourists.

Looking out across the museum.

Jahnu, trying on some glasses that mimic the eyes of a trilobite.

Jasmine, seeing like 15 of everything.

This is one of several items at the Field Museum that more or less blew my mind. This was listed as: Placoderm fish armored head. It’s a cast of Dunkleosteus terrelli, which lived about 417 – 354 million years ago.

Stretching up to 20 feed long and sporting powerful jaws equipped with tooth-like plates, Dunkleosteus was one of the world’s first large vertebrate predators. Dunkleosteus was also well protected. It was a placoderm, a fish that had bony plates covering its head and the front of its body. This is a fossil of those plates.

Nearby, I spotted a Helicoprion. This was another WTF moment, as I can’t even imagine a creature like this existing. This is Helicoprion Ferrieri, which lived about 290 – 248 million years ago.

This shark, Helicoprion, had a coiled spiral of teeth, called a “tooth whorl,” that probably hung from its lower jaw. Scientists aren’t sure how the tooth whorl was used. Some think the shark might have charged into a school of fish and thrashed about or whipped the coil back and forth, snagging prey on the teeth.

Seeing the illustration of the creature… I had a hard time imagining it swimming around. I wanted to find a Field Museum employee, show them the display, and ask Really? Are you sure it looked like this? You’re positive it’s not some kind of mistake?

The very cool looking skeleton of Edaphosauridae.

The kids, alongside a brontosaurus.

Actually, it’s technically a Apatosaurus. Scientists no longer use the incorrect/outdated name Brontosaurus – but for the rest of us, it’s still something we’re trying to adjust to. There was a great video outlining the history of the name and misidentification… but sadly, I can’t seem to track it down.

Though it’s not technically called brontosaurus, it’s still hard for me to let go.

Jasmine and Jahnu, with some big dinosaur shoes to fill.

I really wish I knew the backstory to this. A fossil of a fish, eating another fish.

I never knew something like the giant ground sloth even existed. The thing is massive!

Giant ground sloths evolved in South America’s grasslands, browsing on trees in open savannas. After grasslands spread across the land bridge, these giants moved north. Because they were large and well insulated, giant ground sloths did well in North America’s cooler climates. Not every mammal that moved north was so lucky. Most of those adapted for South America’s warmer conditions never made it north.

Jahnu and Jasmine, playing with a display that showed how animals got stuck in tar pits. From Jasmine: It wasn’t that hard to get out.

Here’s a fascinating fact: Scientists have been excavating the Rancho La Brea tar pits since 1901, and have recovered more than one million bones from pits of hardened tar.

Since 1901!

Jahnu, standing in front of a small tribute to Charles Darwin.

The Hutte family – Shane and Stacey, Jasmine and Jahnu.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. What a great set of photos and account of your visit! Would it be alright if we featured this on The Field Museum’s Twitter feed?
    – Jane Hanna (Social Media Strategist, The Field Museum)

    Jane Hanna Reply

    • Hi Jane! Consider me extremely flattered. By all means, please feel free to share the link!

      avoision Reply

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