Fossils and Cheeseburgers
June 18, 2018
By Grace Graham, Science Educator
Artist Ray Troll loves cheeseburgers. Museum visitors may discover cheeseburgers hidden in many of his drawings in the exhibition Cruisin’ the Fossil Coastline, now on view in the west wing, first floor. One of the more impressive collections of covert cheeseburgers can be found on the Fossil Map of Alaska that greets visitors upon entering. Those cheeseburgers easily escape detection scattered among the curious critters, both ancient and modern, that crowd this dense map. While some features of the map are just for fun and pun, the animals are neither make-believe nor arbitrarily placed. They represent real creatures that roamed the state at various points in its history and include our late Cretaceous dinosaurs and Ice Age mammals.
Their placement on the map represents the location where fossil evidence of that animal has been found. For example, a great pterosaur flies near Denali National Park because a pterosaur fossil footprint was discovered there in 2009. Knowing the meaning behind this collection of oddities only raises more questions about how Alaska’s landscapes may have changed over time: How can there be a shark where there is currently land? Why are there so many different kinds of dinosaurs above the Arctic Circle? What happened to Alaska’s wild horses and lions? Some of these questions continue to be pondered by paleontologists, but others are addressed throughout the rest of the exhibition.
Come explore the richness of Alaska’s geologic and living history through fossil discoveries and the colorful work of Ray Troll. While you’re here, check out that big map below and see if you can find: 10 cheeseburgers, 1 Santa Claus, 2 pencils, 7 polar bears, and 1 chicken.
Cruisin’ the Fossil Coastline is on view through Sept. 30, 2018.
If your child is a true paleo-nerd, check out our Explore It: Dinosaurs summer camp for kids ages 7-9 (June 18-22) and 10-12 (June 25-29).