Jan 23, 2007

Otago Museum

So among my first days of exploring one of the more exciting discoveries I made was that of the Otago Museum. Located not too far from my home on just the opposite side of the university I would make an even more amazing discovery. Admission was FREE!!!

I had initially planned to hold off on the museum till there were other people around to go with. However with no cost in place I opted to pop in and check things out. You know in case it was on one of my prereq tests or something ;P

The building itself is a very nice modern looking one. I should have taken a longer shot as the front of the museum is really nice architecture.

Your first sight entering the lobby. A giant Moa. Probably their most prolific of natural history subject as you'll see. Not the same kind of focus here on Moas as the Tyrrell has with Dinosaurs, mostly due to it's being a general museum as opposed to natural history. This is one of 3 fleshed out mock up of the giant birds, but what makes this one extra special is it is in the front lobby to try and prompt you for money. The mound she is standing on is their donation bin.

This life size sun fish greets you at the far end of the lobby right beside the staircase to head up to the various levels and their exhibits. The first two floors were various human history galleries. Included was a section on New Zealand (go figure), the Maori (again a shock), peoples of the pacific all the way from down here up to Alaska (didn't see this coming to be honest), and special exhibit which was Antarctica at this stage in the game, and lastly the natural history halls on the third floor.
As shocking as this may seem I didn't spend a whole lot of time in the first two floors with the plan being to hit those when I had someone else there to encourage learning the stuff. I poked mostly around the top floor. With two exceptions.

First was this rather nice and impressive Green Turtle skeleton on display on the second floor.

Next was of course the Antarctic display that was setup as a white walled rat maze. Around every corner though you'd encounter interesting display pieces such as this. So an entertaining rat race in any case.

Above in this display a quick none moving preview of the Albatross colony just outside of town. At the time this photo was taken I had yet to make it out to this site to see live Albatrosses so this served to get me excited for that all the more.

Heading up to the third floor one of it's first displays as you enter the natural history gallery is this fine cast of a shark toothed dolphin. An hour after I popped into the Otago Museum I'd bump into and meet the Palaeontologist who discovered and described this critter. That is a story for another time though.

Hanging above the various cases of fossil whales was the lower jaw of a modern day Sperm Whale which was COOL. I plan on venturing North up the southern island at some point during a break, and go to see some of these guys alive and in the wild.

Of course this gallery won't be complete without Moas! Here's one of a pair of fleshed out ones they have upstairs. This guy is kinda their version of Lillian, only he's been around since 1912! They haven't gotten rid of him for renovations yet, unlike Lillian. So in 20 years when looking at this blog many people will have no clue what I'm referring too LOL.

The other part of the pair. This model has been around since the 1930's if my memory serves me (I remember specifically that the first model is from 1912).
They have an extensive collection of mounted Moa skeletons.

Though these photos of the Moa section may not give you a comprensive feel for the place. Mostly due to the bad lighting making photos in there difficult. There are probably some 20 skeletons on display. Next time I pop in I'm planning on a proper count. If my estimate is correct that would make Moas the most common animal on display. Possibly only rivaled by penguins which occur on the third floor, but also in the Maori displays downstairs.

Just on the other side of the Moas are the other fossil displays. Including this "little" guy a definite primitive relative of the Great White Shark (unlike Megalodon which is now thought to only be distantly related). This guy was only a tad bit bigger then a great white but weighed three times as much!!!

Now I kinda altered the third floor gallery to present this guy last in this entry. He comes just after the whales in the front door, and is right beside the Moas. This is of course their Mesozoic item a medium sized Pleiosaur. It is the largest and most articulate fossil collected ANYWHERE in New Zealand and was found just an hour North of Dunedin. Making this area kind of the Drum of the South island. Especially taking into consideration the fact that most of the fossil whales and sharks are from the same general area as this marine reptile (though different aged rocks!!!)


California Will said...

given the great number and diversity of birds of new zealand that have been killed and stuffed over the years I'd think that a museum there would have a few. Heck, even if it's borrowed from the London Museum of Natural History.

Peter Bond said...

What we really need is a "Craig beside a Moa" photo, for comparison!

I wonder what Traumador will think of all these tasty Chicken-Burgers! He might think they are aw-fowl!

David said...

Since when is the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology a Natural History Museum.

Maybe it's just me, but I thought the Royal Tyrrell Museum was about Palaeontology. :)