Prehistoric Megafauna exhibits in museums on the east coast?(US)

We went to see the Harry Potter exibit at the Boston Museum of Science a couple of weeks ago (fans of the movies should see it if it comes to a museum near you) and wrapped up the day at the dinosaur exhibits, which isn’t nearly as big as it was when I was a kid. I know there are museums in DC and NY with better dinosaur exhibits, but do any of the museums on the east coast have prehistoric megafauna exhibits? I find the idea of giant extinct mammals and birds interesting, but I’ve never seen an exhibit that goes much beyond wooly mammoths and sibertooth tigers, and considering how many lived from the Eocene to the Pleistocene there’s a lot more to prehistoric megafauna than that!

Failing that, how about a rec for a good illustrated book on the subject?

No idea about museums, but this pop-up book is wonderful!
Every page has a big pop-up, together with several flaps which hide more, all with interesting facts about the creatures…

There are also similar books in the series for dinosaurs and ancient sea-creatures…

There’s a museum in Raleigh NC that has an impressive sloth skeleton. Something like 14 feet tall and ferocious looking as hell.

Good question. Of course, I’ve always loved the dinos. But the big mammals are even more interesting in some ways. New York City’s Museum of Natural History has a Lila Acheson Wallace Wing of Mammals. (Down the page, under the dinos.) I checked the Smithsonian’s Natural History site. Fossil Mammals are mentioned in the Hall of Paleobiology, but there are no pictures.

Let’s hope more people check in. Of course, true megafauna fans save up for trips west–to see the museum at the La Brea Tar Pits.

I haven’t been to the NYC Museum of Natural History in probably 10 years but I used to go regularly when I was a kid/teen. They had a giant sloth that I really liked. They also had one of those giant armadillo-type guys (glyptodon!) who looked as big as a VW beetle to me when I was little. I also remember a display they had where they compared skeletons of modern day horses and giraffes to extinct animals, and one of them was the skull of a Baluchitherium. They didn’t have the whole skeleton, only an outine of the body, but it dwarfed all the others. Must have been impressive in life.

(I think I will have to plan a trip with the kids to NY soon! I didn’t realize how much I missed it!)

The Peabody Museum in New Haven has a fine Dinosaur Hall and a nice Hall of Mammalian Evolution, with a huge mural of megafauna from the 1960s by the great Rudolph Zallinger. But the AMNH in NY is the king, with two or three large rooms and dozens of skeletons, including my Dad’s favorite when he was a kid, the Irish Elk.

As mentioned, the American Museum of Natural History has two halls on fossil mammals (Primitive Mammals and Advanced Mammals), which contain possibly the most extensive display of megafaunal species anywhere.

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History also contains two halls of fossil mammals with many megafaunal species on display, including a hall on the Tertiary (Paleocene-Pliocene) and one on the Ice Age (Pleistocene). There are mounted skeletons of Giant Ground Sloths among others.

Nearer the OP, Yale University’s Peabody Museum of Natural History includes a hall of fossil mammals, which features Rudolph Zallinger’s spectacular Age of Mammals murals.

The Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida in Gainesville also has an excellent range of mammal fossils on display in the Hall of Florida Fossils.

The last time I sent to the Smithosian Museum of Natural History (2005, maybe), I think they still had placques denoting the etymology of “Eskimo” as meaning “eater of raw meat.” Their Hallucigenia drawings also still showed it walking on stilts (upside down, that is). OK, two little nitpicks

But what was really cool, as noted, was their pretty good display of non-reptilian megafauna.

Wrong coast, but the La Brea tar pits museum in Los Angeles has a spectacular collection of ground sloths and dire wolves. Very nice museum; make some time for it if you ever get to the West Coast.

The American Museum of Natural History in New York does indeed have an impressive collection of Megafauna, although it was extremelt re-arranged several years ago when they completely redid the fourth floor.

Harvard’s Natural History Museum here in the Boston area has a pretty big Megafauna Mammal exhibit. They also have quite a few dinosaurs, if you’re not satisfied by the offerings at the Museum of Science.

For more dinos (I don’t know about mammals) go to the Natural History museum at Yale.

Just, to add to to this reply. The Peabody has a great collection. It’s largely because this guy, one of the first great paleontologists, was a professor at Yale.

The Smithsonian does a good job with mammals. Actually, we have a nice display here at the South Carolina State Museum, but I guess you Boston types don’t think about the whole east coast when you use that term. :slight_smile:

OMG, the Sloths! At the Smithsonian. They were the stuff of my nightmares for about a decade. The utterly horrendous, huge sloth with the gargantuan razor claws.

I have no idea what else was in that exhibit, but I do know it took me a while to get out, so there must have been a lot.


Have a look around

The South Carolina State Museum also has that cool 43-foot long replica of a giant white shark.

I’ve been to the Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum several times and never ceased to be fascinated by the giant sloth. I had no idea they ever got that big. (BTW, in that photo, did you spot the giant armadillo skeleton in the corner?)

Incidentally, that giant sloth skeleton (or a good replica) showed up on the last Tonight Show with Conan O’ Brien. They were looking for ways to run up the bill on NBC before they left so they rented the giant sloth from the Smithsonian to hold up a garden hose spraying cavier on a Picasso.

Just to jump on the pile I saw the exhibit last month and thought it was terrific. Easily the best I’ve seen like it.

Even rural north Georgia has the Tellus Museum, featuring a giant ground sloth, glyptodon and mammoth, among others.