May 26-Jan. 6
Field Museum, 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago
$22-$29, $28-$24 seniors and students, $15-$20 kids 4-11
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What stands 15 feet tall, weighs 20 tons and lived about 25
million years ago? If you guessed Indricotherium, you would be
And if you thought, huh?, maybe it's time to head over to the
Field Museum to meet Indricotherium and some of the other amazing
mammals that have walked-or flown or swam-on earth.
Extreme Mammals, the Field's newest exhibition, focuses on all
the "crazy extreme variations within our family group," says Anna
Altschwager, exhibition project manager.
So whether it's sheer size-from the monstrous Indricotherium to
the teensy, lighter-than-a-dollar-bill Badodanoides-or outer
covering (think fur, scales, quills or shells), kids and parents
alike will think about what's considered "normal" and what's
The exhibit uses re-creations, taxidermy, fossils and casts, as
well as interactive videos and games, to explore what makes a
mammal and why they differ so greatly. Visitors can walk right
under the resident Indricotherium, one of the largest land mammals
that ever lived, or climb inside the shell of a glyptodont, a
car-sized armadillo relative (and Eddie from "Ice Age").
Altschwager says one of the most fun areas is a mirrored wall
where you can "try on" different types of teeth and tusks that
belong to mammals as diverse as hippos and guinea pigs.
The "Mammals in Motion" section shows how even human beings are
pretty extreme. After all, we walk or run on two legs, while
animals like kangaroos and bats and monkeys get around much
differently. "Kids will leave the exhibition wanting to swing and
climb on things," Altschwager warns with a laugh.
Altschwager also says the exhibit relates to other things going
on at the museum, whether the African Mammal Hall or the Evolving
Planet exhibit. And she hopes that by connecting humans with the
larger mammal family, kids will be inspired to get out and discover
new species like Field scientists are doing.
And maybe the next time your kid (or you!) looks in the mirror,
they'll realize that although they might not be quite as large as
Indricotherium, they are just as extreme in their own way.
Elizabeth Diffin is the associate editor at Chicago Parent. She lives in Wheaton.
See more of Elizabeth's stories here.
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