Kirk Johnson is a paleobotanist at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. He took this photo at the University of Alaska Museum during a recent trip to Fairbanks.
What you're looking at is a mummified bison from the Ice Age. It was frozen in solid soil and uncovered by gold miners who were artificially thawing out the surrounding Earth in 1979. There are claw and tooth marks in the mummy that have allowed scientists to finger the bison's killer: An American lion.
This is really cool, and it gives me an idea: There are lots of relatively small, locally oriented museums all over the country, harboring neat finds like this. Unlike places like the Smithsonian or New York's American Museum of Natural History, these museums don't draw in huge crowds of tourists from faraway cities, so most of us don't even know about the treasures stored there—let alone ever get to see them.
So here's my challenge to you: Visit your local science and natural history museums, photograph your favorite exhibit, and send me the pictures—along with any nifty information you picked up from reading the labels and signs. I'm at email@example.com. What beloved specimen do you want the world to know about?
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