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Between the many taxidermy and skeleton specimens, and the fun and informative interactives in Age of Mammals, there's a lot to see in this epic exhibition. But don't let that slow you down. Whether a quick view or an immersive educational experience is what you seek, Age of Mammals has a lot to offer. What are some of the show's highlights? Read on and find out!
Many of the most remarkable specimens in this exhibit called SoCal home. The Simi Valley mastodon stomped around the area through which the Ronald Reagan Freeway now runs; the mysterious paleoparadoxiid was fossilized in ocean sediments forming modern-day Laguna Hills; and both the giant jaguar and saber-toothed cat stalked their prey right in the heart of what we now know as the Miracle Mile.
Be a paleontologist! Besides the amazing taxidermy and skeleton specimens you’ll encounter in Age of Mammals, the Museum’s scientists and exhibition designers have created fun, interactive kiosks that will make you think you’re out in a fossil field, or inside a paleontology lab like the one here at the NHM. You’ll be able to “excavate” the paleoparadoxiid bones, figure out where they belong, and assemble the skeleton yourself!
A most mysterious mammal. Paleoparadoxiid, or “Mystery Mammal,” is a previously unknown species of mammal that lived in what is now coastal Southern California. The specimen on display in Age of Mammals is the first known individual of its kind, uncovered in Orange County, CA, during construction of a golf course. Paleoparadoxiids were herbivorous, four legged, amphibious creatures, and in life they probably looked and acted like hippos. Their closest living relatives are elephants, sea cows and manatees.
We hear so much about global warming in the news because we’re currently experiencing a period of dramatic climate change, but there’s nothing new about it. Age of Mammals presents a long-range perspective to our contemporary situation. Earth’s climate has been changing for millions of years, and those changes have influenced the evolution of mammals — our evolution. When Antarctica was isolated through continental shift millions of years ago, the Earth got cooler and dryer. Vegetation changes came in the form of fewer forests and more grasslands, and then mammals, our ancestors included, evolved to their changing environments. And came to become the remarkable range of species we witness on Earth today.
Mastodons and mammoths were not the same. Although the American mastodon was a distant relative of mammoths, they were distinctly different animals. The Mastodon you’ll see in Age of Mammals stood at nearly the height of a mammoth. The two animals had different diets, and therefore evolved different types of teeth, too. The mastodon's simple and low-crowned teeth tell us it was a browser; it tended to eat leaves and twigs. Mammoths (like the Columbian mammoth on view at the Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits) were grazers; their tall teeth were ideal for munching on grass, much like present-day cows.