In 2007, a Siberian reindeer herder and his two sons made an unprecedented discovery, a nearly perfectly preserved 40,000-year-old baby mammoth they named Lyuba (pronounced Lee-OO-bah). With skin, some hair and the contents of its stomach intact, Lyuba-which means love in Russian-is the central focus of The Field Museum's new exhibit, Mammoths and Mastodons: Titans of the Ice Age.
It has taken the museum two years to tie together the exhibition, which aims to take families back to the Ice Age, where mammoths and mastodons were king. "We set out to make this exhibition a very family-geared exhibition," says Tom Skwerski, the project manager for exhibitions at The Field. They have also produced a children's book, named after the exhibit.
Visitors will learn how scientists study creatures from the past, discover how they became extinct and how modern humans can help keep other animals from the same fate.
With a hands-on focus, the exhibit lets kids try out several aspects of everyday mammoth and mastodon life, including operating a trunk and jousting much like young males did.
Visitors will also have a chance to touch and examine bones and fleshed-out creatures.
Large-scale projections, walk-through dioramas and virtual experiences help tie the exhibit together, including the animals' experiences with early humans.
"It's a really intriguing part of the story," says Skwerski. "Not only did they hunt them, they saw them as inspiration for art."
Possibly the most popular part of the experience for families will be the section that focuses on feeding. Kids can lift hay bales to discover just how much a mammoth ate and in "name that poop," kids can match the dung piles with the critters that may have made them.
Mammoths and Mastodons: Titans of the Ice Age is at The Field Museum, 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, March 5-Sept. 6. Tickets are $23, $13 kids 3-11 and $20 seniors and students with ID and include basic admission. Discounts are available for Chicago residents. For more information, call (312) 922-9410 or visit www.fieldmuseum.org.
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