Thursday, October 08, 2020

Paleo in Pop Culture - Mammals, Pterosaurs, and more from the Chicago Field Museum

There is obviously more than just dinosaurs at the Chicago Field Museum. But if you like dinosaurs (which I do) you can catch them in my previous posts of the outside Brachiosaurus, SUE the T. rex, and the other dinosaurs including Maximo

In this last post for the Field Museum, I wanted to provide a photo journal of the other paleontology features of the museum that I saw. These are obviously just my highlights. There is so much more to see than I could ever have hoped to include here.


This lovely Dunkleosteus placoderm armored fish skeleton is absolutely gorgeous. The Dunkleosteus was the largest predator alive during the Devonian period ~358 million years ago. The fish was up to 20 feet in length and weighed more than 1 ton. 

One of the truly WTF fossils ever is the Helicoprion tooth whirl. The shark lived during the Permian and has been found in various places in the US, including the one from Glass Mountain, Texas here. The artists reconstruction shown here is not the current version of what the shark likely looked like. It more likely contained the whirl within a sheath of flesh, giving it an oversized chin. But science is ever evolving.  


Here is a great Trionyx, which is a soft-shelled turtle. This one was from the Late Cretaceous, ~67 million years old, from Montana.


Life sized reconstruction of a Quetzalcoatlus northropi (a name I still can't pronounce) from the Late Cretaceous

This may be a face only a mother could love. 

View of another Quetzalcoatlus reconstruction flying high overhead in the Stanley Field Hall

The pterosaur Rhamphorynchus muensteri from the Late Jurassic (~150 million years old) of Eichstatt, Germany. 

The pterosaur Pterodactylus antiquss from the Late Jurassic of Eichstatt, Germany. Gorgeous preservation in these two samples. You can see the fingers just popping out of this specimen. 

Early Synapsids (Mammal Relatives)

Two pelycosaur specimens. Edaphosaurusin the foreground (facing away from the camera) and Dimetrodon in the background (facing towards the camera). Although these animals are often listed as being dinosaurs, or even reptiles, they are neither. They are early synapsids, which are the ancestors to modern day mammals. 


Please don't tap on the glass. It disrupts the animals in their native habitat.

A display illustrating how much two-horned rhino fossils have been found in western Nebraska. 

What I like to call, the pole dancing giant sloth. 

An Irish Elk, which also is not an elk, but a rather large member of the deer family.

Smilodon, otherwise known as the saber-toothed cat.

The mastodon Mammut americanum from the Pleistocene of the US. 

The woolly mammoth Mammuthus primigenius from the Pleistocene of Washington state.

It is sometimes really difficult to tell the difference between a mammoth and a mastodon. One of the key differences is their teeth. He is a display of the mastodon, the Asian elephant, and the woolly mammoth molars side by side for comparison.

I love skeletons a lot and I really love that some species of artiodactyls don't shed their "antlers" and some do (although they aren't called antlers then if they aren't shed). While most shed their antlers there are species like this Pronghorn Antelope here that instead of antlers it has bone core outgrowths like horns. 

Here you can see where the antlers would be shed. The growth pattern is distinctly different from the pronghorn. 

This is also probably one of my favorite shots of the mammals at the museum. Here is a warthog from front on. 

And the side, less dramatic view of the warthog.

Trace Fossils

One of my favorite trace fossil names ever, the Daemonelix, AKA the "Devil's Corkscrew". This is absolutely huge trace fossil that was formed by an extinct species of beaver burrowing down into its den. 

Other Items of Note
And the last category is of other items of note. 

This was back in August of 2016 so I don't know if the numbers have changed at all but it is a sobering number that keeps on ticking up and up and up.

An old fashioned Mold-A-Rama machine which will make you a toy as you wait.

And of course I waited! For my lovely little Triceratops figurine. 

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