Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Modern Nature

If one follows the intended path through the museum, instead of scooting to whatever exhibit strikes one's fancy as I did, this is the last of the thematic exhibit areas.

Awww, look at those cute piglets.

The focus here is clearly regional, emphasising the specific nature of the province of Limburg. The first part is preoccupied with unusual species; wolves, lynxes and boars. These are clearly the biggest attention grabbers, but there are some nice displays in the current nature section as well.                                                                                                                                                                                                          

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

The brown museum

There are two ways to get to the 'brown museum', if you take the regular route you are presented with this peculiar room at the end of your tour. As a desert, or an afterthought. 
But it is perhaps better to enter it from the opposite end.

Het bruin museum (The brown museum), click to enlarge.
After hanging up your coat, instead of walking back towards the entrance to enter the museum from the 'proper' direction you can move forward. Taking a right at the coffeeroom you find yourself at the foot of a wooden stairway that leads directly to the brown museum.

Friday, 15 February 2013

The Mosaleum Part 2, Mosasaur Bones

After death the mosasaur sank to the bottom of the sea, where it was scavenged before being covered in sediment and fossilizing.  Most of the skeleton was scattered, but the skull and much of the spine has been found.

Bitemarks, indicated by arrows
The bones in the Mosaleum in fact preserve evidence of being scavenged in the form of bitemarks. Beyond the bitemarks, there is also further evidence identifying the culprits.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

The Mosaleum

The Mosaleum (a contraction of Mosasaur and Mausoleum) is the last resting place of Bèr, a very large mosasaur discovered in 1998. You can just make out his skull in the middle.

The final resting place of a mosasaur named Bèr
The Mosaleum seen from the outside

The Mosaleum is a glass building situated just outside the main building of the NHMM in Maastricht, because it is completely made of glass it lets in a lot of natural light. 
The mosasaur in the "Mosaleum" is a large Prognathodon, that was given it's own species name saturator in 2002. And it's big, at 14 meters it's among the biggest of mosasaurs. 

Saturday, 9 February 2013

A 66 million year old infected bone

This is pretty much the first display you see when moving towards the Mosasaur exhibit, it may not look very impressive at first glance but it is rather neatly done.

And half a litre of goo
The infected mosasaur quadrate

The bone you see is a quadrate (I'll get to that), and it's definitely not looking healthy.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Mesozoic marsupial from Maastricht

For such a spectacular find the NHMM isn't giving us much to go on. Just a tiny, tiny tooth and a small reconstruction. No explanatory text, labels or anything. 
Good thing I came prepared. I had brought "De Nederlandse Dino" with me so I could finish it on my two hour train ride. As it happens the last chapters are on other Cretaceous finds, like this critter.

It's a really tiny tooth.
That black speck.. that's it.

The label clearly isn't much help here. The tooth is simply labelled 'mammal tooth' and the rat-like thing besides it doesn't even get it's own label. You might be surprised to hear it's from the Cretaceous. Good thing I read the chapter on this critter beforehand.

Dutch Dinosaurs that weren't

Just a short digression before returning to our scheduled programming. Writing about the Dutch Dinosaur  put me in mind of some newspaper stories about `dinosaurs` in the Netherlands. Because all too often they take the word dinosaur to mean "prehistoric creature".

It's a whopper! (image via Wikipedia, user FunkMonk)
Perhaps the most egregious example is this headline in the on-line publication Dutch Daily News:
Giant dinosaur bone found in the Netherlands

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

The Dutch Dinosaur

The Netherlands is not known as dinosaur country, and with good reason. For most of the Mesozoic the area that is now the Netherlands was covered in water. But sometimes a dinosaur died and ended up in the ocean, probably it fell in a river that flowed into the sea. Or maybe it was walking on the beach when it died.

The comb was inspired by Corythosaurus
It's a duck-billed dinosaur

Because such remains are so rare in the Netherlands all of bones would probably fit into a single display, if they were all in one place. They are unfortunately not all in the same place, but the NHHM in Maastricht has a relatively large number of them.

Visiting the Natural History Museum Maastricht

Visiting Maastricht in January. It seemed like a good idea at the time, and for the most part the weather was overcast but dry. 
That is until I entered Maastricht proper, because then it really started pouring with rain. By the time I reached the Natural History Museum it was raining so hard I couldn't even take a picture of the entrance, so you'll have to make do with my description.

Crossing the Meuse (Maas)
Crossing the Meuse on the Hooge Brug (high bridge)