This week I've been in Paris with my mum, dad and baby brother Sam. While I was there there was a museum I had heard about and really wanted to see. It is called the Galerie de paléontologie et d'anatomie comparée and it is part of the Muséum national d'histoire naturelle (National Museum of Natural History).
We went on the Metro from our hotel in the middle of Paris to the Jardin des Plantes which is in the south-east of the city. It costs to get in but it was really worth it. It is two huge halls absolutely crammed full of skeletons. It is incredible to see !
The two halls are on top of one another, and they both have balconies where you can look down. The hall on the ground floor has loads of skeletons from animals that are still alive. The hall above it has lots of skeletons from animals that are extinct, especially dinosaurs.
There is so much to write about that this week I'm only going to write about the skeletons and skulls on the ground floor, and next week I'll write about the dinosaurs.
The glass cabinets round the edge were crammed full of all sorts of skulls. This cabinet was all about dog skulls.
In another cabinet, there were European beaver skeletons.
There was a cabinet that showed different sizes of human skulls and monkey skulls together.
There were absolutely tons of monkey skulls.
Here is a horse skull at the front with a zebra skull at the back. Horse skulls are different to deer skulls because they have top incisor teeth at the front.
This was a leopard skeleton. The skeletons in the middle were helped up with metal bars which went round the inside of the legs, up the spine and along the ribcage. It was done in an amazing way, and really showed what the animals would have been like in real life.
Alligator skulls look pretty much like the head anyway, because they have only got a thin layer of skin over the head.
Even small animals had been put together, which must have been very fiddly. These ones were right near the start.
This was a black rhino, together with the horn.
This is one of my favourites. It's called a Big Hairy Armadillo. That's its real name !
Because the skeletons were done so it looked like they were running, it looked like a big ghost herd of cattle in the middle of the room !
I was really pleased to see the roe deer. I have lots of roe deer skeletons and I see them a lot near my house.
This didn't have a label I could understand, but I think it is a Chinese Water Deer with the bone cut away to see all the teeth.
This is a male muntjac deer skeleton.
At the back of the hall were some huge whales. This one is a Southern Right Whale. It is a Baleen Whale which have huge bits of skin stretching at the side of the mouth. These are used to filter water in and catch bits of food in them. Here's an interesting fact: this whale's testicles weigh 1,000kg which is about the same as my mum's car !
The turtles were amazing. They were shown like this because the spine is fastened to the shell, which is why if you can't take the shell off without killing it.
This is a ray, which has massive rows of scary teeth.
I've seen a narwhal tusk before at the D'Arcy Thompson museum, but not a complete skeleton. Narwhal's are a completely mad animal because that tusk is just the right canine which keeps growing and spiraling round. They are incredible.
This is a dentex skeleton. Dentex are fish which eat other fish, and they have really strong jaws.
This isn't a scary fish, it's just a trout.
This is a South American Sea Lion. It has a massive saggital crest on the back of the skull, meaning it has strong jaws.
At the back of the hall there was a cabinet full of weird stuff, mainly animals that didn't grow properly. This didn't have a label but it looked like two twin lambs where the two ribcages had joined together.
These were skeletons of human foetuses, babied that hadn't been born yet. Baby humans and animals have a hole in the skull where the bone fills in later.
I had seen a copy of this two headed calf when I was at the Ulster Museum in Belfast in April.
There were birds too. This was a griffon vulture.
This didn't have a label but I'm pretty sure it's a cassowary which is a cross between an emu and a ninja. They are deadly !
I absolutely loved this museum. I think everything they had you could see and walk right up to, not like a lot of museums which keep things in storage. There were so many bones in there you could spend all day and still not see everything. And there weren't any tourists there, only french schoolchildren.
Next week I will write about the dinosaur bones upstairs ! (Update: That post is now here !)
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