Gallery of the Day: Animal World

August 7, 2011

Scotland

 

After our brief detour to Discoveries, we’ve gone back to continue our journey through the Natural World galleries. Next up was Animal World, or “the one with the stuffed animals”, as I’m sure many families will be referring to it. Anyway, it’s immensely popular – if not the most popular – and trying to navigate it with a pram is an absolute nightmare at the moment. So we arrived at 10am, first through the door, to beat the crowds. Unfortunately we had picked a rainy day, so by half past 10 we had to give up again, but we did get a good half hour in the gallery.

Animal World is on the ground floor of the ‘animal stack’, with Animal Senses and Survival above it on the Level 3 and Level 5 atrium galleries. All three galleries feature exhibits around the outer walls, but Animal World, with the advantage of a floor where the other two have a gaping hole, has a series of plinths in the middle with some impressive taxidermy exhibits on open, though cordoned off, display. Making use of the big empty space in the centre of the atrium galleries, a series of suspended animal exhibits arise from the plinths (or at least so it appears) and wind their way up to the top floor. There are also a couple of double sided screens showing film footage of various animals in action, which can be viewed from several vantage points on all three levels.

“From frozen icecaps to sweltering deserts, from the deepest oceans to high into the sky and everywhere in between – animals have amazing ways of moving around, eating, having babies, fighting and protecting themselves. Come and explore the wonders of the animal world.” (gallery intro panel)

‘Life at the Limits’ looks at extreme survivors from hot deserts and cold arctic regions, to high altitudes and deep seas. ‘Size and Scale’ introduces some towering giants of the animal world; ‘Feeding’ includes odd food and unusual diets alongside the more common veggies and carnivores (don’t miss the killer snails!); and ‘Life Cycles’ covers everything around making babies, being born and growing up as well as some outstanding animal mothers and fathers. ‘Moving Around’ takes a look at how animals run, hop, crawl, slide, climb, swim and fly; and my personal favourite was ‘Weapons and Defence’, with its long teeth and pointed tusks, hard shells and spiky bodies, putrid smells and chemical weapons, rattling noises and venomous stings. A number of touch screens round the gallery also allow you to explore facts about the plinth animals in more depth.

Click on the thumbnails to view the images in full size.

Highlights*

  • The T-Rex skeleton
  • The battling peacocks
  • The giant spidercrab

Things to do

  • Explore how different animal teeth work and what common kitchen tools they most compare to.
  • Race against some animals on the exercise bike interactive.
  • Test yourself on how well you recognise different animal defences.
  • See how measure up on the animal weigh-in (I was heaver than a giant anteater but lighter than a chimpanzee)
  • Touch and compare a collection of horns, tusks and antlers.

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*Please note that these are my own personal highlights and not necessarily recommended as such by the museum.

 

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