Fernbank Museum of Natural History officially opened in 1992 but was founded much earlier in the 1880’s by a young explorer by the name of Emily Harrison. Notably, the museum that today hosts almost half a million visitors a year in 2001 became the first museum to display casts of the world’s largest dinosaurs in a permanent exhibit.
The museum’s new exhibit, “Extreme Mammals,” is sure to excite even the youngest of visitors. It continues through the middle of August. On a recent Sunday afternoon, our group of two adults and four youngsters ventured out to explore the new exhibit. Have you ever heard of an Indriocotherium? Neither had we until we entered this exhibit! A relative of the rhinoceros, this beast stands over 15 feet tall and is the first extreme mammal to greet you. From a life-sized model of a Glossotherium (a giant sloth) to a Canis Diris (an ancient “dire wolf”), you are sure to be enthralled by the sheer volume of “extreme” creatures on display.
It’s cool for your kids to find out how such things as horns, tusks, noses and tails have evolved in the history of mammals. It’s also cool to encounter such things as a life-size model of the long-ago Macrauchenia, (or “long llama”), which had a camel-like body, a neck like a giraffe, and a trunk (or nose) like an elephant. You can also see the complete fossil carapace (or fossil shell) of a Glyptodon. Never heard of it? Picture an armadillo the size of a Volkswagen Beetle!
There’s plenty to gawk at and “wow” over with your kids. It’s fun to learn together about some of the smallest, largest and most intriguing creatures to ever walk the Earth.
Whenever you visit Fernbank, you can also enjoy two rotating IMAX films as well as the museum’s permanent exhibits that cover the evolution of the different species in Georgia. The museum also hosts a planetarium and an interactive play area that can help get your kids excited about science and nature; for example, in exploring the tree fort they can learn all about fossils and creatures great and small. It’s easy to spend half a day learning and enjoying the wonders at Fernbank. Haven’t been here in a while? The “Extreme Mammals” exhibit presents the ideal opportunity for young and old alike to learn about some of the most amazing creatures to ever inhabit our planet.
– Christy Smith
Fernbank Museum of Natural History
767 Clifton Rd. NE, Atlanta. 404-929-6300; fernbankmuseum.org
Hours: Through Aug. 16. Mon.-Sat., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sun., noon-5 p.m.
Cost: Adults: $17.50, children 3-12, $16.50, $15.50; 2 and younger, free.