so, as a belated birthday present my friend nichole took me to the museum of natural history tonight, where her old friend runs the paleontology department. so, i got a backstage/behind the scenes look at the museum of natural history paleontology department. which was amazing. one more time: AMAZING.
some of what i did: i got to look under a microscope at a tiny rodent jaw from 20 million years ago. i got to see some of the bones in storage. i got to see a triceratops skull they’re putting together (it can sometimes take TEN YEARS to fully clean and assemble a triceratops skull). i got to hold a t-rex tooth. i got to look at dinosaur poop (photo evidence to follow). and i got to feel as tiny and insignificant as tiny and insignificant can be, thinking about how life has been going on for 4.5 billion years, and almost every thing that’s ever lived has been convinced of its own importance, just as most of us are convinced of our own importance (it’s hard to be too sold on my importance when looking at giant bones that are 70,000,000 years old).
most of what we looked at was between 40 and 80 million years old. this first picture is my favorite, as it’s an incredibly rare perfectly preserved little raptor from 40 million years ago. this almost never happens, that a dinosaur will be perfectly preserved, with all bones intact and unmoved. 40 million years ago this guy/girl was eating something and thinking about his/her friends and then he got covered in mud. the mud turned to rock. then someone in the desert uncovered him/her. and now 40,000,000 years later i’m taking a digital photo of his/her perfectly preserved bones. so odd. it makes me never want to worry about anything ever again as long as i live.
the second picture is me and my friend nichole pointing at some fossilized dinosaur skin, and the third picture is actual fossilized dinosaur poop. i now have to go figure out how to establish any semblance of significance for my short and tiny life when compared and contrasted to 4,500,000,000 years of multi-cellular life that has all been self-involved and stuggling just to stay alive for a few days. and we’re on one planet out of billions in our galaxy. and our galaxy is one out of trillions in the universe. if, in fact, it’s a universe.
i think i’ll go eat some cake and watch family guy.
p.s-oh, only .5% of the museums paleontology collection is ever on view at one time. point 5. yup. less than 1%.