Good Life Nature Activity at FLMNH Christopher O'Neill

Introduction

Evidence that safe places exist only temporarily. After a game of "Hide-and-seek," James found me and took this photograph.

Since my friend, James, and I made the arduous journey to the Harn by foot, and we had extra time, we decided to visit the Florida Museum of Natural History. As we went spelunking through the exhibits, we saw both the scary and beautiful aspects of nature. From the savage butterflies to the pansy apex predators, we experienced nature in its entirety. We also learned about human threats to nature, and how we can stop them. After our visit, I truly felt like I was one with nature.

Nature on Display

Extinction Exhibit - a wild Chris in a foreign habitat
Extinction Exhibit - Anomalocaris - the adorable thing with the beady eyes - I want one as a pet! Jurassic Park let's go!

One of the exhibits we visited that had nature on display was the extinction exhibit. The fact that this exhibit had so many unique soft core predators on display that looked alien is what made this exhibit my favorite. For example, the adorable Anomalocaris, as portrayed above, tore its prey apart using its mandible like appendages. I also found the Megalodon shark to be just as cute with its large jaw and teeth. I found that I learned more about the natural world by learning what a lot of extinct species looked like together in their habitats, which increased my conceptualization of the past. If I just searched these species individually on the internet, I may not have been able to see the big picture (past) as a whole.

Nature and Ethics

A motivational painting declares "It's up to you..." (to protect the environment). Lol, James, what are you doing?
The Butterfly Exhibit has various educational tidbits, like this poster, which describes the ethical responsibilities humanity has to restore the environment, even if damage is caused by natural means.

One of the more important lessons James and I learned was the role of ethics in protecting the environment. Due to artificial and natural causes, many ecosystems and species in Florida have been disappearing. For example, Hurricane Andrew caused the decline of species of butterflies, and the artificial draining of swamp areas to create useable land for people has caused the Everglades delta to decline greatly. While being exposed to the nature display exhibits, it felt as though I was a part of the exhibit-- as though I was a member of the biotic community. Having this revelation instilled me with a greater desire to protect the environment, even if it meant saving the nightmarish demons we call butterflies.

Nature and the Human Spirit

What's that behind me? Why that's a traditional costume belonging to a tribe of women indigenous to the Andes! The designs on the costume illustrate various components of nature (i.e. the evil we refer to as butterflies)

Taking a break from the daily grind of our industrial society, and relaxing in the beautiful landscapes nature has to offer is a luxury I wish I could afford at any time. Coming to the Natural History museum reminded me that I'm more that just an asset or tool to be used by the business world, and rather a part of nature as well. It reminded me that human nature is still a type of nature. It also made me realize that no matter how much we try to rationalize the universe, there will still be wonders out there, like the infinitely majestic ecosystems that make up our world. These ecosystems remind us that reality is anything but dull with their awe-inspiring beauty. That's why we have to do everything in our power to protect them, so we never forget what they teach us and what they inspire us to become.

Credits:

Special Thanks to James for taking photos of me, and giving me permission to use photos of him.

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