The Science of Salt Lake City

This week my husband and I are in Salt Lake City, Utah, for the upcoming International Meeting of Autism Research (IMFAR). Since we had a little free time this weekend, having arrived a few days early, we took the opportunity to visit the local Natural History Museum, located on the University of Utah campus and originally established in 1963. They have an excellent collection of ancient mammalian and dinosaur fossils which contains over 12,000 vertebrate specimens, so I was in seventh nerdy heaven taking tons of photos. Below is a selection of photographs from yesterday’s visit. Enjoy!

A collection of hominin and hominid fossil replicas, arranged chronologically.


A replica fossil skull of Australopithecus afarensis (e.g., “Lucy”) that lived between 4 and 3 million years ago. This type of Australopithecine is believed to be more closely related to the hominid line than Australopithecus africanus.


A Smilodon fatalis, a type of sabertooth feline that lived in the Pleistocene from 2.5 million years until 10,000 years ago.


An extinct form of bison.


A baby mammoth.


A giant ancient croc, Deinosuchus hatcheri.


A Hagryphus giganteus in the foreground.


Some sort of Parasaurolophus. (I completely forgot to note the name plate.)


A Triceratops.


Lots of Triceratops, all hanging on a wall.


Marshosaurus bicentesimus, a form of theropod. Named in honor of the famed paleontologist, Othniel Charles Marsh.


I believe this was one of the Allosauruses.


Allosaurus fragilis.


A model for dinosaurian plumage. Interested in dino feathers? Read last week’s blog.


A very metaphoric scene of an ancient bird feeding off the carcass of a dinosaur. Ironic, no?


A scientist at work. Very friendly guy, he stopped to show us a model image of the fossil dino he was working on.


Fossil cleaning close-up. What an art.


Currently, the museum has an “Extreme Mammals” exhibit on show. Below is a model of the largest land mammal to have ever existed, Indricotherium.


Ambulocetus natans, model of an ancient ancestor of whales and dolphins, who was partly terrestrial, partly amphibious.


Coryphodon, an ancient mammal who had one of the smallest brains for the size of its body.


A taxidermy specimen of one of the now-extinct Tasmanian wolves. So sad.


So that was our trip to NHM of Utah. We’re planning on a visit to the Museum of Ancient Life tomorrow so hopefully I’ll have another photographic tour for next week. Stay tuned!

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