Evolving Planet consistently ranks as a visitor favorite and has been praised as one of the world’s best museum exhibitions about the subject of evolution. This large exhibition space (26,000 square feet!) tells the compelling story of four billion years of life on Earth through interactive displays, videos, and spectacular fossils. Visitors come face-to-face with creatures that ruled the world long before humans came into existence, including giant bears, ferocious fish, and of course dinosaurs.
The many dinosaur fossils in Evolving Planet include a long-necked, 72 foot-long Apatosaurus and original bones from the Brachiosaurus that stands guard outside The Field Museum. An armored Stegosaurus poses across the hall from a horned Triceratops, while an enormous meat-eating Daspletosaurus looms in the center of the exhibition’s dinosaur hall. The variety of dinosaurs represented in Evolving Planet ensures visitors can find their favorite or even pick a new one. There’s even a special activity area for young dinosaur fans with interactive displays and a chance to find out what dino skin and bones felt like.
But before and after the age of dinosaurs, the Earth was home to many other fascinating creatures and Evolving Planet explores these, too.
Fossils from The Field’s collections and interactive displays teach visitors about the earliest living animals and plants. A huge curved projection virtually surrounds visitors with a recreated ancient sea brimming with life. Another activity allows visitors to see through the eyes of a trilobite, one of the first animals to develop vision. The tiny underwater creatures make for a stark comparison to the huge dinosaurs and demonstrate the power of evolution.
Another visitor favorite is the hall highlighting the Age of Mammals. This part of Evolving Planet explores climate changes that led to the diversification of mammals – from small rodents to an enormous, 11-foot tall short-faced bear. Visitors discover how hoofed land mammals evolved into ocean dwelling whales, and why two predators, separated by a vast sea and 25 million years, evolved the same saber-like teeth.
Concluding the exhibition is the story of Homo sapiens. A life-size reconstruction of the famous Australopithicus, Lucy, reveals a creature as close to apes as humans. Visitors are able to meet not only Lucy, but other members of the human family tree as well. Artists recreations of the faces and hands of several hominid species allows visitors to touch human cousins and take a close look at features are so like – and yet unlike – our own.