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Like dinosaurs, mammoths have attained mythical status in our mindsets. Their lumbering-trunk-appeal is bound to herd in young and old visitors over the coming months to our latest exhibition, which is now open just in time for the half-term school holiday.



The most mammoth of all the different mammoth species, the Colombian, is sure to wow young and old.


Like a kid, after my first peek into the Mammoths: Ice Age Giants exhibition, I confess I'm still awed by the ginormousness of the exhibits and specimens. None of the early images I've seen in the lead-up truly convey the sheer size of these beasts and their characteristic body parts. This is a physical experience you need to go through yourself, to feel their presence and grasp their world.



Meet the early proboscideans - the first section of the exhibition is a touch-filled experience.


What's suprising too are all the different shapes and sizes that mammoths and their relatives come in. The spectacular show of proboscidean heads - showing the earlier predecessors of mammoths and elephants and the development of their trunks - makes a spectacular entrance.



The 42,000 year old remains of Lyuba, the baby woolly mammoth, are on display outside Russia and Asia for the very first time.


And of course, standing close to the enigmatic baby woolly mammoth, Lyuba, surrounded by displays that tell her story, is a unique thrill... As is turning a corner on your exhibition journey and coming face to face with a fearsome sabre-toothed cat and giant short-nosed bear (the biggest bear ever), two top predators of mammoths during the Ice Age.



The biggest bear ever and the fearsome sabre-toothed cat were large enough to take on mammoths.


Along with the big encounters, there are many little pleasures for small hands. Try and lift a mechanical trunk, pick up a heavy hay bale and do a spot of tusk jousting. It's not as easy as you think being a 5 metre tall mammoth.



How easy is it to control a long proboscis? Find out with these mechanical mimics.


There are many amazing specimens and fossils to linger beside, ranging from woolly mammoth fur, mammoth molars and poo... to the imposing American mastodon skeleton and the stunning African Savannah elephant skull towards the end of the exhibition.



An imposing American mastodon skeleton.


Elephants are the modern relatives of mammoths and the exhibition also examines this connection and their plight in the modern world.



An African elephant skull demonstrates the similarities between them and their mammoth relatives.


Look out for the skulls and specimens of other Ice Age animals that lived at the time of mammoths. My favourite is this pronghorn antelope skull and there's even a tiny cotton-tail rabbit skull that provides a stark contrast to the giants surrounding you.



The pronghorn antelope skull from one of the many animals that co-existed with the mammoths.



Museum mammoths expert, Adrian Lister, and exhibition project manager, Becca Jones, celebrate the opening at our VIP event.


Mammoths: Ice Age Giants is opent at the Museum until 7 September 2014. As The Times said of the exhibition: '...this is a family show to trumpet about.'



This exhibition was created by The Field Museum, Chicago.


Mammoths move in

Posted by Rose May 13, 2014

'Getting such enormous exhibits into the Museum last week was probably one of the most challenging load-ins we've had, for any exhibition,' says project manager, Becca Jones. 'Simply because of their sheer size and weight!'


Mighty mammoths, mastodons and ice-age giants make their way into the Waterhouse Gallery for the opening of our BIG summer exhibition on 23 May.


The excitement is mounting as the installation of our summer blockbuster exhibition strides into its final weeks. Mammoths: Ice Age Giants was created by the Field Museum in Chicago and, following its earlier run in Edinburgh, will open here at the Museum on 23 May. Our photographer caught some of the installation on camera, enjoy the pictures.




'Crates containing the exhibits and sets were brought into the building through the Central Hall's front doors. We erected scaffolding and fork lift trucks and pallet trucks helped manoeuvre them inside. We had to lay down plywood pathways to protect the floors because of the weight.


'It's been great having Field Museum staff work alongside us to bring in the exhibits and help us with the installation. Lots of late nights! We have also added some really fantastic specimens from our own collections too.




'Everything is just so massive. The sets too. But we're working fast now and I'm really pleased how well it's taking shape.




'This week we will rig up the lighting designs and we're all looking forward to welcoming and installing Lyuba, the Siberian baby mammoth, who's arriving from Russia. It's incredible to have the real Lyuba in the exhibition and to showcase her UK debut.



The world's longest tusk, just over 5 metres, was recently photographed with our own Museum mammoths expert, Adrian Lister, and the Field Museum's Dan Fisher at the International Conference on Mammoths in Greece. It belongs to the early mastodon, Mammut borsoni, and was discovered in 2007 at the Milia site in northern Greece. Image Matthew Scarborough.


The Museum's mammoths expert Adrian Lister has played an important part in our own interpretation and adaptation of this exhibition. Although we won't have the world's longest tusk in it, pictured above, we can guarantee a show of jaw-dropping proportions. Watch this space for more news.


Mammoths: Ice Age Giants was created by the Field Museum in Chicago.



Last night, Radio 4's Robin Ince kicked off this year's Lyme Regis Fossil Festival to the sound of scientific laughter. The festival, now in its 9th year, runs from 2-4 May over the bank holiday. Today is for schools, with all the public events happening on Saturday and Sunday.



From fossil collecting to stone carving and rock pooling, the May bank holiday festival is awash with beachcombing fun for fossil fans, young and old.


As usual, a team of Museum scientists and learning educators will be showing off amazing specimens and answering fossil enquiries. Many are already there on the beach welcoming hoardes of schoolchildren. Others are busy stuffing rare objects (carefully) into their cars in readiness for the Jurassic adventures ahead. Can't make it to Lyme? Here at the Museum we'll be following our scientists there live in our free daily Fossil hunters talks.


Lil Stevens, plant fossils expert at the Museum, joins our festival possé for the first time.


'This year we will be bringing anthropologist Margaret Clegg to talk about ancient humans and our Britain: One Million Years of the Human Story exhbiition. And palaeontologists Pip Brewer and Jerry Hooker will showcase some very ancient mammals.


'You can sieve for sharks teeth with fish curator Emma Bernard and expert David Ward. If you can find them you can take them home with you! They will also show you how to use shark jaws and teeth to estimate the body size of some of the largest sharks ever to have lived.



Sifting for sharks teeth at the Natural History Museum display in the Grand Marquee's Fossil Fair.


'Zoe Hughes, our cephalopod and brachiopod curator and I will be explaining how palaeontologists reconstruct fossils to work out how the animals looked when they were alive. Test your palaeo-skills with our drawing challenge! Palaeontologists Martin Munt and Noel Morris are Lyme veterans and will be on hand to answer all your most technical paleontological questions - so you'd better think of some.


'Those mysterious Museum mineralogists are planning a sparkling surprise so come down to the beach and see some very special pebbles...'


The weather forecast is erratic for the weekend, so dress for both sun and rain if you're going but, as always at this popular family event, there will be tonnes to see and do outdoors and inside the grand marquee and other venues.



Horace, the Pliosaur (l) with the cinematic walk-in belly returns by popular demand.
Homo heidelbegensis (r) is new on the scene, arriving with our palaeontogolists and on show with their other ancient human exhibits.


Citizen science is this year's Fossil Festival theme and special treats include the return of Horace the Travelling Pliosaur, the Dinosaur Runway and MarineLife's whale and dolphin research ... as well as our own fantastic displays and fossil identification services of course.


The festival is free to attend, but some of the events are ticketed.