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Family-friendly exhibit celebrates mammals

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From Ueno Zoo’s giant panda, Ling Ling, to a 2.5-meter-tall polar bear, around 280 stuffed specimens, fossils and skeletons of mammals will go on display at the National Museum of Nature and Science in Tokyo from March 13. Titled “Mammals: Diversity in Terrestrial Life,” the exhibition examines the evolution of mammals through the museum’s superb collection.

The origins of mammals can be traced back to about 230 million years ago, when dinosaurs also occupied the Earth. Although the dinosaurs became extinct, most mammals survived by adapting to the environment and changes in climate.

The fossils on display illustrate how many mammals were only the size of a mouse in the era of the dinosaurs, while stuffed specimens of leopard, zebra and wapiti show the diversity of shape and markings in these animals.

This three-months event also features the works of Ernest Thompson Seton, a famed author and wildlife artist, and Michio Hoshino, a nature photographer. Included are Seton’s original books and illustrations and Hoshino’s photographs, diaries and his favorite boots.

Also, you can learn a little more about mammalian species in an interactive area where you can actually touch different kinds of horns and hair and even smell the droppings of various mammals.

“Mammals: Diversity in Terrestrial Life” runs from March 13 to June 13 at the National Museum of Nature and Science in Tokyo. The museum is open from 9 a.m. till 5 p.m. Admission is ¥1,400 for adults and ¥500 for elementary, junior high and high school students. For more information, visit www.kahaku.go.jp