My visit to the Florida Museum of Natural History was a great experience. It allowed me to immerse myself in the natural beauty of the great stat of Florida, and gave me a glimpse into its past history. I feel that the connection to nature that the museum provides to its visitors, puts them one step closer to achieving “the good life”.

The fossilized skeleton of a giant ground sloth

Nature on Display

The exhibit that stood out to me personally was the “Hall of Florida Fossils”. Initially it was the colossal shark jaws that drew me in, but I found it was even more interesting upon further inspection. The layout of the exhibit had the visitors take a stroll through geologic time. As you passed each epoch, the story of life on our planet was unraveled. I especially enjoyed the fossils of the megafauna. It allowed me to step into another time, and imagine what it must have been like to see a 20 foot tall ground sloth. As a geology major, I get excited just reading about earth’s history, but stepping into an exhibit that makes it come to life was an unbelievable experience.

Prehistoric humans caused the extinction of many animals

Nature and Ethics

Although I agree with Leopold, that we should view ourselves as part of nature rather than an outside force acting upon it, the Natural History Museum did not make me feel that way. One of the prevailing themes of the fossils exhibit was that all of the large animals began to disappear one by one as humans entered the scene. Unlike other predators, the humans used sophisticated tools and brain power to hunt large animals to the point of extinction. This made me feel disconnected from nature, and almost guilty that our species has had such a destructive effect. Gazing at the skeletons of what were clearly at one time magnificent creatures, it made me think about all the beautiful parts of nature that have been lost to mankind. On a positive note, these feelings of guilt made me feel as if I have an obligation to do what is in my power to prevent further losses of nature.

Loquats in the butterfly garden glisten with water droplets

Nature and the Human Spirit

The Natural History Museum is designed to immerse its visitors in a concentrated dose of nature. In one short visit, it is possible to experience almost all Florida has to offer, past and present. Its a great way to experience the best of the natural world in a short time period. If you took an hour long hike on a nearby trail, you may see a few butterflies, but the museum allows you to a wide array of these beautiful winged insects in only a few short minutes. For people who have little experience with the natural world, this is a great way for them to get a sense of it.

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