The biggest (and smallest) and baddest (and cutest) mammals went on display in the new “Extreme Mammals” exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.
Stretching across the globe and back 70 million years, the exhibit provides an exciting overview of the diversity of the sweaty, hairy, nursing class of animals to which humans belong.
If you’re in D.C., you can catch the exhibit through January 3, 2010. Or you can check out some of the specimens in this photo gallery of extreme mammals.
The image above is Indricotherium, the largest land mammal ever discovered. An adult could weigh 20 tons, more than a family of African elephants. It lived in the forests of central Asia about 30 million years ago, but died out as those forests turned into grassland. As you might surmise, its closest living relative is the rhinoceros.
The Proboscis monkey (Nasalis gerardis) is nature’s Pinnocchio. A male’s nose can grow to 7 inches long. This extended sniffer is believed to attract the lady monkeys.
Petaurus breviceps). While the other exhibits feature models, six real, live sugar gliders will be on display. These tiny marsupials can jump for extended distances by using their skin like a parachute.
Spectacled bear (Tremarctos ornatus). Spectacled bears weigh less than a pound when they are born, but grow into 300-pound adults. They also have pretty faces.”
Tasmanian devil skeleton (Sarcophilus harrisii) You knew that Tasmanian devils were among the more badass mammals on name alone, but it turns out they have the strongest bite-force of any mammal under a foot tall.
Cynognathus skull fossil (Cynognathus crateronotus). This mammalian relative lived more than 250 million years ago. Its original scientific name meant “dog jaw” in honor of the canine way its teeth worked.
Chinese pangolin (Manis pentadactyla). The pangolin is covered with scales made from keratin, the same stuff that makes up your fingernails. If you scare them, they turn into a ball of blades while spraying you with jets of skunk-like liquid. In other words, if you see one in Asia, steer clear.
No list of strange mammals would be complete without the platypus. Not only do they look strange, but they don’t give birth to live young like other mammals — they lay eggs. Another strange fact: Platypuses produce milk but don’t have nipples, so it oozes out onto patches of their skin where the babies can access its nutrients.
This odd-looking mammal has a camel-like body and a long giraffe-like neck and a flexible elephant-like trunk. Sadly, it’s no longer around to poke fun at. The South American animal went extinct 10,000 years ago.
Glyptodont (Glyptotherium floridanum). Behold the enormous ancient relative of the armadillo. These herbivores could grow up to 10 feet long and were covered with thick armor.