It’s been bothering me all week that I wrote about the Boston Museum of Science, but not about one of my all time favorites – the Florida Museum of Natural History. If you’re ever in the Gainesville area of Florida, you should definitely put the FLMH on your ‘to see’ list. This is a place where you can have a little academic adventure. Of all the displays I love there, I’ve narrowed it down to my top 3 favorites to share with you.
For me, one of the highlights is the wall of shark jaws, including – MEGALODON!!! The ancient precursor to the Great White Shark, carcharodon megalodon, was the size of a school bus with jaws that could easily swallow a human whole. I must admit that my fascination with this gigantic shark extended well beyond the museum to numerous documentaries and books as well. (Yes, I’m a science nerd.)
Another favorite is the Florida fossil room. As an osteologist by training (thanks to UF), I’ve spent hours in there observing their bone collections. The seven foot tall, carnivorous ‘Terror Bird‘, Ithyosaurs, and so much more! My favorite skeleton in the collection, though, has got to be the 40 foot ground sloth. The mere thought of such a creature is just amazing. And the claws on the thing! Very impressive.
Then there’s the butterfly garden. An absolutely gorgeous, edenesque spot with a lush garden, tropical flowers, and the biggest, most beautiful butterflies you can imagine. Ever seen the pictures of those huge South American butterflies in such brilliant shades of blue that it’s almost impossible to believe they occur naturally in nature? They have them! And they’ll land right on you if you hold still and are lucky enough.
The museum is on the edge of the University of Florida campus, and hosts many fantastic traveling exhibits as well. They also have plant sales on the weekends where you can pick up some fantastic species that you won’t likely find anywhere else.