Last weekend my son & I made a whirlwind visit to my mother in New York and we stopped by to visit the American Museum of Natural History. Highlights include:
- the 3-D movie Earthflight where it felt like birds flew threw the theater and included an exciting sequence of gannets, dolphin, and fish all interacting underwater.
- the mind-blowing comparisons of sizes of cosmic objects in the Rose Center of Earth and Space
- The Willamette Meteorite (my son still doesn’t believe it’s real)
- paleontoligical remains of dinosaurs and ancient mammals of unusual size
Jupiter & Saturn
The Willamette meteorite
The scary giant ground sloth.
The titanosaur does not fit in one room.
Knowing is half the battle.
Related post: Photopost: American Museum of Natural History (2015)
Author: Clive Finlayson
Title: The humans who went extinct : why Neanderthals died out and we survived
Publication Info: Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2009.
Finlayson is a paleontologist from Gibraltar who writes in this book about Neanderthals as a species of human that evolved parallel to the ancestors of homo sapiens. Finlayson challenges common beliefs such as the “Out of Africa” theory, noting that ancestral humans and proto-humans could move freely back and forth between Africa and the Eurasian landmass, especially when the ocean levels were much lower than they are now. He also theorizes that the fossil record of a many early human communities that lived by the shore have been lost to ocean levels rising. The role of climate plays a large part in Finlayson’s model of human evolution, and attributes homo sapiens adaptation to the climactic changes that made the Neanderthals go extinct more to luck than the superiority of our species. Despite the title, Neanderthals are not the main focus of this book, which is disappointing. His defensiveness about how his view contrast with the common wisdom make me wonder if he’s a renegade that cannot be trusted. While writing on a fascinating topic, Finlayson’s writing is a bit dry and repetitive so the book is less engaging than I would’ve hoped.
Author: Kirk Johnson and Ray Troll
Title: Cruisin’ the Fossil Freeway: An Epoch Tale of a Scientist and an Artist on the Ultimate 5,000-Mile Paleo Road Trip
Publication Info: Fulcrum Publishing (2007)
Summary/Review: I’ve long been a fan of the art of Ray Troll who specializes in drawing realistic but whimsical representations of fish and prehistoric creatures. This book is written by Kirk Johnson, a paleontologist from the Denver Museum of Nature and Science who teams up with Troll for a fossil-gathering road trip through the Rocky Mountain states. Johnson does a good job of balancing the roles and importance of academic and museum work with commercial diggers and fossil collectors, showing respect and admiration of all. The journey detailed by Johnson visits many beautiful and awe-inspiring locations that are richly illustrated with Troll’s art and photographs. It’s a great book for anyone interested in paleontology, travelogue, and popular art.
Recommended books: Planet Ocean: A Story of Life, the Sea, and Dancing to the Fossil Record by Bradford Matsen and Ray Troll