At the KU Natural History Museum, four floors of exhibits help you explore the life of the planet. Toothy mosasaurs will open your imagination to the Cretaceous seas of 85 million years ago. Throughout the museum you will discover the animals and plants of the Great Plains, including birds, snakes, and mammals from prairie dogs to moose. In Bugtown, you’ll meet a few six-legged critters. Explore Evolution introduces you to the work of scientists making leading discoveries in the diversity of life, from tiny diatoms to humpback whales. Plus, you can buzz in to see the live bee colony.
The Life of the Past
The 45-foot mosasaur that looms over the lobby is your first introduction to the fossils and fossil casts found at the KU Natural History Museum. It’s joined by other mosasaurs, plesiosaurs,
and other Cretaceous period animals in the museum. You can touch the fossilized femur of Camarasaurus
, learn about the evolution of ancient plants and trees, and discover invertebrate fossils, including ammonites, trilobites and giant squid.
Bugtown is home to live insects, from blue death-feigning beetles to giant cave cockroaches. At this third-floor exhibit, you can crawl through the worm tunnel, learn how dermestid beetles clean up and find out how insects eat. Plus, you can plop into a booth at Grub’s Diner, where the eating of other patrons is strictly prohibited.
Explore Evolution features the work of scientists who are making leading discoveries about the evolution of life. Located on the fifth floor of the museum, the exhibition invites you to explore topics such as fossil evidence that links whales to their four-legged ancestors, how sexual selection has shaped the evolution of flies in Hawaii, and a comparison of chimp and human DNA. The exhibition also profiles the scientists behind the research.
The animals and plants of North America are exhibited throughout the museum and are one of the museum’s strengths. Begin in the Panorama of North American Animals on the fourth floor, a diorama that is home to wolves, prairie dogs, bison, mountain goats and other mammals of the plains. On the sixth floor, individual dioramas of fox, eagles, deer, rabbits and mice reveal scenes between predators and prey. Discover the differences between venomous and non-venomous snakes in the live snake exhibit, and learn about bee communication and the complex social life of a beehive in the museum’s live bee colony exhibit.