By MACKENZIE ENGLISH
The Boonshoft’s newest exhibit, The Age of Mammals and Ice, takes families back into the past to visit the animals of the last Ice Age. Here we can see how some of the largest land-dwelling animals would have looked and moved about if they were still around today. We also can see how the places they lived looked different than they do today. It is not every day that you can come to a museum to see extinct animals come to life!
My favorite of these Ice Age mammals is the Doedicurus from South America. Imagine a car-sized armadillo walking through your back yard eating all of the vegetables in your garden.This mammal did not have to worry about too many things trying to eat it because of the thick armor it wore all over its body. It also had a large bony mass at the end of its tail that could be used as a club.
The wooly mammoth and smilodon (saber-toothed tiger) both lived here in Ohio. The wooly mammoth is a cousin of the elephant that lived in the grassy tundra of the Ice Age. They would have used their large tusks to scrape away snow and ice to look for grass to eat. The saber-toothed tigers would look for any animals they thought would make a good meal, which included the wooly mammoth.
One of the largest land mammals to ever live was the Baluchitherium. This large mammal was closely related to the rhinoceros but lacked the horn found on the head. Found in Eastern Europe and throughout most of Asia, they would have eaten any vegetation they could find.
Also found in the exhibit is the wooly rhinoceros. These rhinos were slightly larger than modern-day rhinos and were covered in a wooly fur, much like the wooly mammoth. This fur would have helped them to stay warm as they lived in the cold tundra of northern Asia and Europe. Their closest living relative today also happens to be the smallest rhino, the Sumatran rhino.
Not only do we have on display some of the largest mammals that once roamed the planet, but we also have one of the largest birds. The Gastornis, or Terror Crane, was a large flightless bird found in Europe. It took a long time for scientists to determine if it ate meat or its vegetables but now it is believed to be a vegetarian. This comes from the lack of hooked claws and a lack of a hook on the beak, which would suggest consumption of meat. So think of it as a very large chicken. It probably would taste like one too.