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Extreme Mammals exhibit opens at Natural History Museum of Utah

Allison Laypath

Extreme Mammals exhibit opens at Natural History Museum of Utah

By Allison Laypath, Contributor | Posted - Feb. 11, 2015 at 11:31 a.m.

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SALT LAKE CITY — The new Extreme Mammals exhibit recently opened at the Natural History Museum of Utah in Salt Lake City. This traveling exhibit from the famed American Museum of Natural History in New York City teaches visitors about the biggest, smallest and strangest mammals in history.

"It's about excitement and wonder," exhibit developer Laura Thompson said.

Largest, smallest and strangest

The first thing visitors see when they enter the exhibit is a model of the largest land mammal ever known. The Indricotherium looked something like a gigantic rhinocerous without horns. It was so tall that one of its legs was as tall as an adult human. Visitors are welcome to walk right up to the model and touch it, so they can really get a sense of its massive size for themselves.

Nearby, see the smallest known mammal — a pygmy shrew not much larger than an adult human fingernail. This tiny creature had to eat constantly to mantain its body temperature and stay alive.

From there, check out a whale with legs, deer with horns on their noses, a hippo-like creature with a wavy skull and a mammal that ate dinosaurs.

Entertain and educate

The Extreme Mammals exhibit also educates as it entertains. Here are a few of the surprising things visitors might learn more about during their visit.

  • How humans compare with other mammals.
  • How and why mammals developed interesting features like horns, wings and armor.
  • Where mammals lived. Look for "I'm a local" labels for mammals that lived in Utah.
  • Why mammals go extinct and why we could be on the verge of a 6th Great Extinction.
  • Where new mammal species are still being discovered. Several mammals discovered in the last 25 years are featured.
  • Find Extreme Mammals in the museum's regular exhibits. Look for "I'm Extreme" labels throughout the museum.

Just for kids

The Natural History Museum of Utah is a popular destination for families and the Extreme Mammals exhibit has been designed with kids in mind. Several interactive features have been built into the exhibit so kids and adults can touch, explore and even climb inside the world of mammals. Young children can crawl inside the replica of a larger-than-life armadillo of the ancient world. Older kids are likely to enjoy the interactive video presentations.

The museum will host special activities throughout Presidents Day Weekend, Feb. 14-16, to celebrate the Extreme Mammals exhibit.

  • Make animal masks, spin wool, examine extreme fangs and fur and enjoy other hands-on activities on Saturday, Sunday and Monday from 12-4 p.m.
  • See live mammals from the Hogle Zoo on Saturday from 12-2 p.m.
  • Have your face painted on Saturday from 12-4 p.m.
"I believe that we take mammals for granted," Thompson said. "They seem familiar to us and we think we know them. This exhibit has changed my thinking about mammals and helped me understand how incredibly diverse and strange they are."

Extreme Mammals will be open through July 26.

About the Author: Allison Laypath ---------------------------------

Allison Laypath is an expert on family travel, founder of the blog and a regular contributor to With her family, Allison especially enjoys road trips, national parks and local field trips. Email Allison at


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