Thursday, April 25, 2019

Botanical Gardens & Geology Museum, Clemson, South Carolina

Open to the public at no charge, Clemson University has a beautiful botanical garden where they study plants and butterflies. There are trails, pathways, ponds, streams, woodlands, xeroscape, and trial gardens. Dogs are allowed on the trails, and the girls enjoyed the walk around the gardens. When we were there workers were building a gazebo out in the middle of a pond. It should be very nice when completed.

Desert Bird of Paradise

Hairystem Spiderwort

Peter Rabbit's Garden

Prickly Pear Cactus



Clemson University also has a Geology Museum in the same area as the botanical garden, just a short drive away. This museum houses a lot of different rocks, gems, and dinosaur fossils. One of the most fascinating museums we have been to is out in Blanding, Utah, which houses some really big dinosaur fossils. You can visit my blog on The Dinosaur Museum here.

Smiloden - Clemson's Oldest Tiger
Although often referred to as saber-toothed tigers, Smiloden actually belongs to an extinct group of cats known as Machairodontinae. Smiloden lived in North America 10,000 to 2,000,000 years ago, during the Pleistocene Epoch. 

American Alligator

Velociraptor mongoliensis lived during the Cretaceous Period, 71-75 million years ago. This guy was found in the Gobi Desert, Mongolia.

They have a room in the museum that houses a bunch of what looks like plain rocks, that is, until you turn the lights off and the ultraviolet lamps come on. Then the rocks light up into beautiful minerals. This is called mineral fluorescence.

The light from the ultraviolet lamps reacts with small amounts of impurities in a mineral and the mineral starts to glow (this is called fluorescence). These were really cool.

Amethyst Geode, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil

Sandstone Sedimentary Rock

Aragonite, Santa Eulalia, Mexico

Barite, Durango, Mexico
Azurite (blue); Malachite (green)

Seeing double? When a light ray enters the crystal, it is split into two rays. The two rays hit the image and bounce back separately so that our eyes pick up two images. If the crystal is rotated, the secondary image will rotate around the original image.

A reconstruction of how ammonites likely appeared in the Paleozoic ocean more than 400 million years ago. Ammonites and nautiloids are excellent "index fossils" because it is often possible to link the rock layer in which they are found to specific geologic time periods. The fossil is from the Jurassic period, approximately 190 million years ago. It was found in Lyme Regis, UK 

Arietites bucklandi Ammonite

Tyrannosaurus Rex (pea brain)

The pink highlight is the size of the Tyrannosaurus Rex's brain. It is also shown in the above pictures in the little case next to the explanation. Smaller brains were the norm for the large dinosaurs with the T. Rex having one of the larger brains, although it is not considered to be the smartest of the dinosaurs. 

Using the general ratio of brain mass to body mass for estimating intelligence, most scientists speculate that members of the Troodon, a genus of Cretaceous, bird-like dinosaurs, were likely the most intelligent. Even so, these dinosaurs considered to be the smartest of them all, were probably not as intelligent as modern birds or mammals. That means that the giant T. Rex could probably be outsmarted by a kitten if it lived today.

Mammal-like reptile embryological skeleton, Triassic Period

One huge footprint

Dinosaur Egg
Complete dinosaur eggs are relatively rare, but eggshell fragments are common. This specimen was fabricated by embedding real dinosaur egg shell fragments onto a large ball of plaster. The cracks were then painted to hide the plaster and color variation of the egg fragments. An actual sauropod egg would be 7" in diameter and more spherical.

Quote for the Day: "Fossils have richer stories to tell - about the lub-dub of dinosaur life - than we have been willing to listen to." ~ Robert T. Bakker

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