Florida Museum of Natural History Kevin Herrera

Nature on Display

The Hall of Florida Fossils: Evolution of Life and Land

I really enjoyed this exhibit because the history of Earth's animal life has always been an interesting topic to me, and seeing the skeletons of these ancient animals is a fascinating experience. The exhibit is designed in way that takes you on a journey through time, starting from hundreds of millions of years ago to just a few thousand years ago. Along the path were globes of the earth and what its land looked like at that point in history. By going through this exhibit, I learned about some animals that I had not previously known about, such as giant predatory birds known as Titanis. I had known about some of the ancient animals already, like the giant ground sloths, but much was new to me in the exhibit, and I was thrilled to learn new information.

Entry sign
Skeleton of an ancient mammal
Various skeletons of now extinct animals
Skeleton of an ancient giant ground sloth

Nature and Ethics

I think the FMNH does an excellent job at allowing visitors to experience nature in ways that Leopold recommends, but in particular I felt the coastal environment exhibits made me feel the most connected to nature. The first two pictures below are representations of mudflats and mangrove forests, two kinds of coastal environments. The room they were in had an atmosphere of tranquility about it, and I was able to picture the peace and beauty of the coast. The second two pictures below are from the marine life in coastal waters exhibit. What is unique about this exhibit is that the designers wanted visitors to see what it would be like to be a small fish in those waters, so all of the wildlife is enlarged to be twelve times their actual size to give a feeling of inclusion. This design choice was very effective, as I did indeed feel like a small fish swimming in a big pond of strange creatures. I was felt connected on a deeper level to the marine life, and it was a marvelous experience.

As I was exploring this exhibit, other people were quite surprised by the size of some of the creatures. For example, I heard one girl yell "look at that huge crab!" Being in this exhibit helped me understand that our waters are precious, and that it is our moral responsibility as humans to preserve them.

Mudflats representation
Mangrove forest representation and wildlife
Estuary toad fish, enlarged 12x
Estuary Snapper, enlarged 12x

Nature and the Human Spirit

Butterfly Rainforest

Walking the path through the butterfly garden is like stepping into a sort of dream world. Perfect scenery of lush green plants, running water glistening with sunlight, and butterflies with magnificent patterns that seem like they were painted onto them all come together to provide a real treat for the senses that can't be obtained anywhere else. Before entering the path, the museum workers remind you to watch your step when going along the path, as butterflies tend to land on the ground. This reminds you just how fragile these creatures are, and makes you care more deeply about their preservation. The butterflies also help connect between ourselves as humans. Each species of butterfly has its own unique pattern and/or color that sets it apart from others, but at the end of the day, all of them are still the same: they are all butterflies. This can be compared to humans and how we all come from a different background, may speak different languages, believe in different gods, or listen to different music. In the end though, we are all human and bleed the same blood, breathe the same air, and look at the same sky.

Butterflies resting on a branch
Scenery
Monarch Butterfly
Postman
Blue Morpho (wings closed)
Mexican Bluewing

Credits:

Created with images by bob in swamp - "Sunrise From Munyon Island"

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