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This gallery, off the rotunda to your right, shows how animals that do the same thing – climb, fly, or swim are examples – have evolved similar skeletal features, even when the species aren’t that closely related. For example, sloths and apes have curved feet and hands for climbing trees. The interesting thing about these displays is that they’re almost all complete skeletons, not individual bones or bone fragments. Children will find it easier to identify the animals related to each skeleton, and it’ll be easier to see the similarities.

A subset of the displays in Bones is called Skeletons in Motion, and shows the evolution of joints, muscles, and bone shapes for birds that fly, swim under water, and run (with specific coverage of aquatic, semi-aquatic, and terrestrial birds). There’s also a set of displays showing the evolution of skeletons, limbs, and motion, and jaws and teeth for eating. We consider these among the best in the Bones gallery. Finally, if you’re going to need help staying awake during a long drive home, the snakes display at the end of the hall will definitely help.

Other Lands at Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History