Morrill Hall visitors can think like a paleontologist and learn about the family trees of elephants and whales from fossil-based activities Sept. 22. The University of Nebraska State Museum is offering a special edition of Sunday with a Scientist, “Fossil Family Trees,” in partnership with the Smithsonian Institution, from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. that day.
Visitors will have the opportunity to analyze fossil evidence big and small to uncover changes in lineages and landscapes over time. They will be able to reconstruct an ancient landscape using fossil pollen, create a family tree of modern and extinct elephants using fossil teeth, and discover if the most recent common ancestors of whales and deer walked on land or lived in the water. Visitors can also play with the virtual-reality experience “Deep Time Detectives” and work with a partner to discover the closest modern relative of a mystery fossil.
In addition to hands-on activities, the museum will screen an excerpt of the new PBS and Smithsonian Channel film “When Whales Walked: Journeys in Deep Time,” a 20-minute clip tracing the epic origin stories of some of the world’s most spectacular creatures. Show times are 1, 2, 3 and 4 p.m. The screenings are free for museum visitors.