From My Carolina Home

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Museum of Natural Science in Raleigh

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On a recent trip to Raleigh over a weekend, DH and I spent an entire Sunday at the Museum of Natural Science downtown.  Sunday was a great day to go, parking was easy, traffic was low, and the cafe was open before the Museum so we could have lunch before the visit. Two multi-story buildings connected by a sky bridge contain more than you can see in a day.  The world globe was three stories tall!

Museum of Natural Science, Raleigh, NC at From My Carolina Home

Starting off on the first floor coming out from the Daily Planet Cafe, the first thing you see is the giant Right whale skeleton. There was so much to learn about whale migration, the study of their life habits, and how this study contributes to the efforts to make our impact on them less dire. This whale was one that researchers had been following, and she died from massive trauma to her head, indicating she was struck by a ship. The researchers had documented her dozens of times and the loss felt personal to them.

Museum of Natural Science, Raleigh, NC at From My Carolina Home

Especially sad was that she was pregnant at the time of her death, the fetal skeleton seen in the exhibit in the position it would be in her body.  It takes almost a year for gestation and females only bear one calf every three years.  There are only a few hundred Right whales left in the world, so figuring out how not to kill them is important.  Their migration courses and our shipping lanes follow the same ocean routes. By analyzing data on whale migration routes, shipping lanes and ship speed, it was found that ship speed makes a difference. Slowing the ships down successfully dropped the collision death rate with Right whales to zero the next year!

Museum of Natural Science at From My Carolina Home

It was interesting to see a T Rex skeleton, although this one is a replica.  This would have been a juvenile in size. In studying the bones, scientists have changed their view of how it walked. Where they used to believe that the dinosaur dragged its tail, they now believe that it held the tail high like a bird, balancing the front in a more forward leaning posture.  Did you know that scientists now think that most dinosaurs had feathers, or quill like coverings rather than scales?  A find in 2016 of a dinosaur tail covered in feathers and preserved in amber confirmed the theory.

Museum of Natural Science, Raleigh, NC at From My Carolina Home

It is generally believed that our modern birds evolved from dinosaurs, interesting!!

Museum of Natural Science, Raleigh, NC at From My Carolina Home

There is a working laboratory for fossil study right there on the premises, and you can watch them working during the week.

Museum of Natural Science, Raleigh, NC at From My Carolina Home

Also in that area, an exhibit of skulls with cards telling the observer the type and relative age, both human and ape.

Museum of Natural Science, Raleigh, NC at From My Carolina Home

This strange exhibit caught my attention as it depicts the relative size differences between several bacteria and viruses. It was one of many interactive exhibits dealing with physical biology of humans.

Museum of Natural Science, Raleigh, NC at From My Carolina Home

Overhead was a huge depiction of DNA, with many exhibits to read and see. One thing that made it so interesting was the level of writing, not too simple, not too complex, just drew you in with interesting facts presented in a compelling way.

Museum of Natural Science, Raleigh, NC at From My Carolina Home

Then, the exhibits moved into space, with fascinating exhibits of galactic study, so much to learn!!  Fascinating exhibits on radio waves in space, water on distant moons, the character of light coming across our galaxy, billions of stars with orbiting planets, it just boggles the mind.

Museum of Natural Science, Raleigh, NC at From My Carolina Home

This is also a working laboratory, studying the moon, asteroids and meteors.

Museum of Natural Science, Raleigh, NC at From My Carolina Home

Walking across the sky bridge, we crossed over to the second building. We hadn’t seen everything in the first one, yet, but I wanted to be sure to see the T Rex skull they had so we went to look for it. The sky bridge was on the third floor, and we could see the upper part of the globe there.  Walking across the bridge, you went forward in time from the earliest prehistoric time to more recent recorded history.

Museum of Natural Science, Raleigh, NC at From My Carolina Home

If you enjoy non-fiction, here’s a book on the legal fight over the T Rex skeleton found in 1990 in South Dakota called Sue.  Found by a paleontologist, fought over between factions of the Native American Sioux Tribe, universities, corporate interests, museums, scientists and the federal government, Sue was the subject of a legal battle then an international auction. One of the placards talked about this, and I have seen a television show on it.  The book looks really interesting, reading a bit on the preview at Amazon, (Affiliate link) it might make a fun gift for the budding scientist, legal thriller fan or the history buff.

Tyrannosaurus Sue: The Extraordinary Saga of Largest, Most Fought Over T. Rex Ever Found

Another huge exhibit in this building was on the seas, and the Blue Whale. This is the view of the smaller skeleton from above on the third floor.

Museum of Natural Science, Raleigh, NC at From My Carolina Home

And the same skeleton from the second floor.

Museum of Natural Science, Raleigh, NC at From My Carolina Home

Trying to give you the sense of the huge scale of these bones, here’s the view of the larger one from the first floor, with the smaller one seen behind it. It was interesting to read that the darker color on the skull portion is due to it still having the oil in the bone. Once considered valuable, the Blue whale was almost hunted to extinction for its oil.

Museum of Natural Science, Raleigh, NC at From My Carolina Home

An atrium contained a battle scene of dinosaurs, with a huge brontosaurus.

Museum of Natural Science, Raleigh, NC at From My Carolina Home

and a large Acrocanthosaurus skeleton.  The placard next to it says, “don’t call it a TRex”.

Museum of Natural Science, Raleigh, NC at From My Carolina Home

This skeleton is very rare, the only one of its kind this complete on display in the world.  Due to the continued deterioration of the bones from to exposure to air, most of it has been replaced with casts on the display, with the bones taken to controlled storage.  The mounted skull is a cast, with the real one under glass below.  Its skull looks a lot like the T Rex, but it lived 45 million years before T Rex.  Originally the skull was found flattened, but painstaking restoration included taking the bones apart and reassembling them in the proper place and took a year to complete.

Museum of Natural Science, Raleigh, NC at From My Carolina Home

Overhead, flying pterosaurs circle on a rotating arm.

Museum of Natural Science, Raleigh, NC at From My Carolina Home

When we found the next exhibit on fossils, I thought we were close.

Museum of Natural Science, Raleigh, NC at From My Carolina Home

Here’s the T Rex skull, I think it is a cast replica.  I never did figure out how the paleontologists tell the difference between T Rex and Acro.

Museum of Natural Science, Raleigh, NC at From My Carolina Home

As is usual, I took more pictures than is reasonable to show. Tomorrow I’ll show you more of the museum, dedicated to North Carolina’s ecosystem and history. It was fascinating too!

Do you have a wonderful science museum near you?

 

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Author: Carole @ From My Carolina Home

Blog frommycarolinahome.com

12 thoughts on “Museum of Natural Science in Raleigh

  1. Thanks for the photos from your science museum. It was very interesting and I learned something new. Never having heard of a Right Whale, I looked online for information on it, and was amazed at the huge difference in the shape of this whale’s head, compared to the more common ones I’ve seen on the Animal Planet and National Geo Wild. I’m addicted to those channels and have learned so much about our mammals and wildlife, and find they are far more interesting to watch than the human race. lol In answer to your question about a Science Museum…..yes, we have the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, which we visited often when our children and grandchildren were younger. Now we let the parents of our great grandchildren take over, since neither of us would be able to walk for hours on end.

  2. Very interesting museum. What a great adventure. I love the photos you shared. Yes, there are always a lot of pictures to take and so many incredible discoveries. I am also addicted to Nat Geo channel, and Science Channel, and also History Channel — a little heavy on the commercials, but great for learning, and cleaning, or learning and sewing.
    This was a nice blog, very informative. Thank you Carole.

  3. we have always enjoyed museums and have visited many over the years but have not been in your area all that much so have not seen this one. Well have to remember it.

  4. Hi Carole I have to tell you that I thoroughly enjoy all your emails! Love your quilting creations as well as your pics of your travels! We also have a dinosaur museum close to us and have enjoyed many visits! Thanks for sharing! Have a great day!

  5. Hello Carole; I thoroughly enjoyed reading all of the information you provided along with every picture! I have always enjoyed going to Museums of all sorts and spending as much time as possible exploring and learning. This museum sounds as if you would need to spend an entire week going through it to barely catch a glimpse of the information that is provided. But how fun that would be! Thank you for sharing this information and all of your spectacular photos; I really enjoyed this post!

  6. Yes we have a wonderful science museum here in Denver . Need at least a week to see most of it. Also get visiting ( traveling) exhibits so always something new . Usually have 1,000 or more school kids visiting mornings Monday to Thursday .you would want to visit afternoons for a quieter time.

  7. Hi Carole,
    How fascinating about the Right whale and the shipping industry. Just a small change like that – amazing! It makes me so sad to think of that whale with massive head injuries likely from a ship. This looks like an amazing museum – makes me want to head to the Chicago museum! ~smile~ Roseanne

  8. Oh this post brought back memories! I have great memories of the Denver and Chicago museums, and our own geological museum here on the SD School of Mines campus. But the real memory was from 1990. I was actually driving through Hill City when the FBI confiscated Sue and everything else they could carry off. It was a circus, with many locals protesting and all sorts of hubbub down Main Street; lots of monkey business on that one. Sue now resides at the Chicago Field Museum. Hadn’t thought about that in a very long time! A fascinating report with great photos…thanks!

  9. That was so interesting. My older son and I used to g into NYC on the train every couple of months to the Museum of Natural History there. In those days, there was a subway entrance to the museum, and if we got on the train in our town in NJ, we never had to be outside in the cold until we got back off in the evening. The dinosaur floors were our favorites, but everything is so interesting. The Raleigh one looks like a really good museum. There was an amazingly good dinosaur museum in a tiny town in Colorado. Paul and I visited it and had a wonderful day there.

  10. This was fascinating. We always took our boys to museums like these when they still lived at home. Good pics and always a good book reccomendation. You asked about similar museums in our area, in Tampa, we have MOSI, The Museum of Science& Technology.

  11. I ADORE natural history museums…the only kind of museum I like!

  12. I always learn so much from your posts! We always try to visit Science museums when we travel with the kids. We have been to the ones in Washington, DC, Philadelphia, Boston and Baltimore. Thanks for linking up to the Take Me Away party again this month!
    Shelley

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