What? Whales were once land animals?

I am not a museum-goer type of traveler. I enjoy getting to know people and places I visit and get a kick of finding out holes in the wall that only locals seem to know about, rather than visit a museum. I enjoy art and learning about great feats of past civilizations that have not ever again been replicated, but to me it seems that it’s a choice about visiting the past or living the present, and given limited time and money, I will always choose to live in the present.

However, I think museums are a great way to play tourist in your own city, to learn about things that you are not naturally curious about or just reminisce about the great feats and works of art humans are actually able to accomplish.

Today we went on a little excursion to visit the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. On the way there, we googled some nearby restaurants and ended up at the Denver Biscuit Company, an awesome place where locals hang out and eat tons of delicious calories based on the love of biscuits: sandwiches, pot pies, cinnamon roll, french toast… anything you can imagine with a biscuit on it. Of course, it being Colorado, local beers are also a big hit and readily available on tap.

The neighborhood of Park City is a cross of old and new. Older, charming houses back up to a revitalized main street housing several restaurants, bars, stores, galleries and most interesting, the highest concentration of barber shops/hair styling saloons I have ever seen in a 1 mile radius. Mr. GoodLife believes this is due to the ever-increasing need of facial hair trim .

 

Park City Neighborhood
Park City Neighborhood
Park City Neighborhood House
Park City Neighborhood House
Neighborhood Dog
Neighborhood Dog
Bluebird Movie Theater
Bluebird Movie Theater
Denver Biscuit Company Logo
Denver Biscuit Company Logo
Denver Biscuit Company
Beers on tap
Menu
Menu
Veggie Pot Pie
Veggie Pot Pie
Biscuit Sandwhich
Biscuit Sandwich

Alas, we were super happy to discover this new place that we otherwise would not venture out to explore, had it not been for the visit to the museum. So far, so good!

As museums go, I have visited some big ones, think NYC, so smaller museums often pale in comparison. I had the opportunity once to visit the Philadelphia Museum of Art for a preview event and hear from the President of the museum how exactly museums are run and what the organization needs to do to compete with larger museums and have access to top-notch exhibits and personnel. In short, the more money, the better the exhibitions, so I give a lot of credit to smaller museums that seem to pull it off on a smaller budget.

Denver Museum of Nature and Science
Denver Museum of Nature and Science

The Denver Museum of Nature and Science had several on-going exhibitions and being a nature and ocean lover, I was thrilled to discover something new. To my surprise, I learned a lot.

Have you ever seen a full size Whale Skeleton? Have you noticed how whales fins seem incredibly like arms and hands? No? Here, look at this picture.

Whale Skeleton
Whale Skeleton

What do you think? See it now?

Well, my friends, that is because they were once land animals? Yes, you heard that right.

We all learn that whales are mammals right? But if you are like me, something never made much sense…ok they are mammals, but they can live in the ocean…why are they different from sharks and how do they nurse and so on… I will not bore you with all the details, but basically the exhibit suggests that during a hot period on Earth, whale ancestors took to the shallow oceans in search of food and overtime evolution did its thing and they became ocean animals. The fins resemble hands or paws because they did have 4 paws and then 2 paws and then fins…. Crazy right?

Even crazier is that current whales still have what looks like remnants of back paws in their skeleton and that hippos are the closest living relatives to whales. Mind boggling! Other evolutionary additions to the whale ancestors are echolocation and krill feeding.

So I learned something new about whales today by visiting the museum and it made me wonder… If Michael Phelps continued to swim and passed his genes on to future generation of incredible swimmers, could they eventually become the first humans to live solely in the ocean? Food for thought….

 

 

 

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