Unearthing Alabama's Ice Age
ICE AGE ALABAMA EXHIBIT
Date: January 11 - December 31, 2013
Cost: Exhibit included in the cost of admission to the museum, FREE for members
Mammoth bones in Dallas County? Giant Ground Sloths in caves near Tuscumbia? Only within the past 35 years have significant Pleistocene deposits been discovered, excavated, and researched in Alabama.
This recent research has helped piece together a record of Ice Age mammals that rivals that of any state in the southeastern U.S. Now a new display in the museum will take visitors on a journey back to the Alabama Ice Age to meet the many curious creatures that once roamed our state.
McWane Science Center is home to Alabama's second largest natural history collection. Made up of over 500,000 specimens and objects pertaining to the natural history of the state, this important collection focuses on the preservation, education, and research of Alabama’s rich biodiversity and paleobiodiversity. One of the more significant subsets of the collection is Alabama’s largest collection of Late Pleistocene faunal remains – or Ice Age fossils.
Made up of nearly 10,000 cataloged specimens, the McWSC Pleistocene collection contains a unique diversity of fauna that not only includes those native to North America, but migrants to the state from both South America and the Old World. This collection includes mammals, both extant and extinct, reptiles, amphibians, birds, fishes, and botanical remains collected from both cave and stream localities in the state. Extinct mammals represented in the McWSC collection include mammoths, mastodons, giant beavers, saber-toothed cats, giant armadillos, tapirs, peccaries, and giant ground sloths.
This spring, visitors will have an opportunity to view some of the fossils in the collection with a new exhibit titled — “Unearthing Alabama's Ice Age.” This exhibit will not only highlight many of the Ice Age animals from the McWane Science Center Collection, but will highlight and dispel many of the common misconceptions surrounding the Ice Age in the state. The goal is for visitors to have a better understanding and appreciation for this time in Alabama. For example, guests might learn that Alabama was on average only five degrees colder than today, glaciers did not reach farther south than southern Illinois or that all the Ice Age animals did not go extinct at the end of the Ice Age. While the largest animals, such as mastodons, giant ground sloths, and saber-tooth cats died out, nearly all the animals that are living in Alabama today were also around in the Ice Age.
The Unearthing Alabama's Ice Age Alabama display is located in the City Gallery on Level 2 of the museum. It is included in the cost of admission to the museum and free to members.
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