Two of the best classes we ever took at the University of Texas were The Age of Dinosaurs and The Age of Mammals. Both were pretty fascinating, but amazingly, the mammals class pretty much owned the dinosaurs class, not only 'cause our professor was so cool--if you put 10 bearded indie rockers and 10 bearded paleontologists in a room together, you probably wouldn't be able to tell much of a difference--but also because there was so much more to learn. After all, prehistoric mammals have always taken a backseat to dinosaurs in pop culture. Ever seen a movie called Pleistocene Park? We didn't think so. Animals like Deinotherium, Baluchitherium and Smilodon (AKA the Saber-Toothed Cat) looked pretty similar to today's mammals in some ways, only they were much more badass. Deinotheirum was an elephant that sported crazy downward-curving tusks, for instance, while Baluchitherium--the largest land mammal that ever lived--combined the bulk of a rhinoceros with the height of a giraffe. Ice Age Mammals, a new exhibit at the Heard Museum, 1 Nature Place in McKinney, collects several animatronic examples of these awesome extinct animals, including a wooly mammoth and the aforementioned Baluchitherium. Museum hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays. Admission is $7, $5 for ages 3 to 12. Call 972-548-9119 or visit heardmuseum.org.
June 5-Oct. 10, 2010