Thursday

Any town with a museum could be a town to call home

2 December 2009. Edmonton, AB, Canada.

I spent a good part of the day photographing mammal skulls in the University of Alberta Museum of Zoology ("UAMZ").

[this is not a skull, but a pangolin Manis fetus specimen preserved in a jar; note the body armor already developing on the fetus]

I was there to collect data on modern carnivores of the North American ecological communities, from the smallest living carnivore least weasel Mustela nivalis to one of the largest bears, Ursus arctos. The data from these modern carnivores serve as a basis for understanding the cranial shape of fossil canids that dominated the landscape millions of years ago (particularly during the Miocene).

[busily working in the mammal range]

Besides the excellent large mammal collection, I was comforted to see the bird and fish collections as well...the museum houses a locally sampled vertebrate collection, tucked into a corner of the 10th to 12th floors of the Biological Sciences building on campus. It was such a quiet place to work (after acclimating yourself to the hum of the cold room) that one could almost forget the ongoing construction of the new biology wing and the bitter cold outside.

[a very large grizzly Ursus arctos skull being photographed for morphometric analysis]

A museum is a museum...I returned home with a camera's worth of photos for analysis, and a renewed sense of appreciation for halls of bones and pickled lizards throughout the world. Museums are invaluable time capsules of biological and cultural change on this planet we call home.

[part of the wet fish collection at UAMZ]


[the small pelt room that smelled of my LACM home]

A heart-felt salute to the museums of the world!

~Jack


2 comments:

220mya said...

I love museum collections - fossil or modern. Aren't they great? You come away with such a nice feeling after spending a day in collections, especially if you've been able to collect massive amounts of data.

Spencer said...

I agree. I could live and die in a museum, I think. I want to visit them all, I'm that crazy....