Recently, the Denver Museum of Nature and Science opened a new traveling exhibit that is originally from Chicago called Mammoths and Mastodons Titans of the Ice Age. If you get an opportunity to visit this, you should take it. In the exhibit there are multiple sections with touchable models, an interactive activity, a video, a myth, and real fossils all telling something new about what happened to the mammoths and mastodons that led to their extinction.
In the first section, Trunks and Tusks, you learn about how mammoths, mastodons, and elephants are all related. It is because they are all proboscideans which comes from the word proboscis which means trunk. The next section, Growing up in the Herd talks about the life of a mammoth and has a real cast or model of a baby mammoth named Yuba. The following section, Stomping Grounds, tells you where mammoths roamed and has a life size model of a Columbian Mammoth. Colorado Ice Age is a special section the museum added that talks about the mastodon found in Snowmass and the mammoths and mastodons that lived in Colorado. A Prehistoric Drama is about when mammoths and mastodons met humans and how they shared the land. The next section, Pushed to their Limits, tells you how some mammoths became isolated in the corners of the Northern Hemisphere and shrunk to adapt. Conserving a Legacy is about modern day elephants and how the Asian Elephant is even endangered. The last section of the exhibit is called Preserving Fossils. Some people that work at the museum are preserving and cleaning fossils of mammoths and you can watch and see how they do it.
The first question you might ask before you go to the exhibit is what the difference is between a mammoth and a mastodon? I found out that the main difference is in their teeth. Mammoths have flat teeth that they can grind grass with. Mastodons have pointier teeth that they use to chew up and down with. However, both mammoths and mastodons are related to the modern day elephant.
As I said earlier, there are videos, interactives, and more. Samantha Richards, the educator/coordinator for the museum’s Earth Gallery Programs recommends the video about their tusks. “Tusks record the entire life of the animal, kind of like tree rings do,” Richards said. She said you can see how old they are, when they had babies, and if they got into a fight. Another fun thing to see is the video game interactive where you can help bring mammoths home safely or draw cave drawings. One of the cool characteristics of this exhibit is that you can take pictures with the life size models, however, only where there is a picture taking sign.
This exhibit is for all ages. However, some little kids might get bored during some of the videos, although younger kids will love the interactives such as the video game. This is a very exciting exhibit that you should take the time to go see, you will learn a lot. The exhibit is open until May 27. Great mammoths and mastodons once roamed the Earth, in one of the sections it said, “People are working around the world to save the last of these great animals.”