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Mammals in the Brooklyn museum. Collections and Galleries.    
 
 
THE BROOKLYN MUSEUM

MAMMALS

Returning to the Vertebrate Hall here at the Brooklyn Museum, the systematic series of mammals follows the exhibit of perching birds, beginning with the large case on the left (northwest) side of the hall, containing the monotremes and marsupials. Examples of all living families of each are exhibited.

The Monotremata, the lowest order of mammals, possess both reptilian and bird-like characteristics. Two living representatives are known, both nearly extinct: the Echidna, a spiny, egg-laying mammal, and the duck-billed Platypus, a beaked creature living in burrows. Examples of each are exhibited, as well as an egg of the Echidna, and a skeleton of the same showing the reptilian characters.

The Marsupialia, pouched mammals, are represented by the opossum, the rare mole marsupial of South Australia, and the Tasmanian "wolf," or Thylacine, in reality not a wolf but a distant relative of the opossum. This powerful creature, once abundant in Tasmania, has been hunted, on account of its sheep-killing proclivities, until it is nearly extinct.

Other marsupials shown are the bandicoot, hare wallaby, Bennett's wallaby, Venezuelan woolly opossum, carrying its young on its back, the banded anteater, the flying, common and spotted phalangers and the red and gray kangaroos. The skeleton of a kangaroo (skull and pelvis) and a model of the brain, showing its small size and smoothness, together with detailed labels giving characteristics of the Order Marsupialia, complete this introduction to the mammalian series.

Proceeding along the left side of this hall of the Brooklyn Museum, the Order Edentata next appears: mammals either toothless or without front teeth. The sloths, anteaters and armadillos are the principal existing forms of the order, which is a very old one, at one time numerous and comprising many gigantic forms now extinct. The great anteater, or antbear, of Brazil, two mounted specimens and a skeleton of which are exhibited, is one of the largest of existing edentates. The pangolin, or scaly anteater of the Old World, with overlap-ping, horny scales, the four-toed anteater, the yellow tamandua and the three-toed and two-toed sloths are shown here, as well as the six- and nine-banded armadillos and the aard vark, or antbear, of South Africa.

In the same case of mammals are exhibited the Rodents or gnawing animals. These comprise the largest order of existing mammals, and there are many different families and genera. Among the specimens are squirrels and chipmunks, the South American capybara, largest of living rodents, the paca of South America, the pocket gopher, named from the pockets in its cheeks, the spermophile, muskrat, porcupine, the vischacha of South America, and others.

On the north wall at this point of the Brooklyn Museum, horns of the greater kudu, a rare African antelope, are exhibited, below which are some fine examples of scrimshaw work on the teeth of whales, an art practised by sailors in the days of whale fishing. A walrus tusk in the same case is similarly engraved by Indians of the Northwest Coast. On the same wall just beyond is an exhibit of tusks of the mammoth, with ancient figures of this extinct relative of the elephant, also teeth of the mastodon and of the modern elephant.
 
The model of a skeleton of linoceras, a large extinct mammal of Eocene times, related to the rhinoceros, and a sketch representing the restored animal appear in a case beneath the window, facing a mounted specimen of the sea leopard, a large antarctic seal.

The hoofed mammals, farther down on the left, are represented by the Rocky Mountain sheep, the Spanish ibex, a fully grown llama from South America with a heavy coat of hair, a specimen of Grant's zebra, the head of an Alaskan caribou and a small model of the extinct Irish elk, the largest of the deer family. A model of Tinoceras, related to the elephant and rhinoceros, is also shown here. The habitat groups of hoofed animals are exhibited in the Central Hall.

Proceeding down the hall, a complete giraffe skeleton occupies a position on the north wall, facing an exhibit of Pribilof foxes from the islands of St. George and St. Paul in Bering Sea. These animals, usually known as blue foxes, change their coats to white in winter, in the northern parts of their range. Specimens of both colors are exhibited, and a photograph of these animals at home is shown on the north wall nearby.

A series of aquatic mammals, including dolphins, whales, seals and sea elephants, the latter a species of earless seals, is next exhibited here in the Brooklyn Museum, and, related to these exhibits, the skeleton of a manatee or sea cow, which appears above the hoofed animals in the previous case, and the skeleton of the sperm whale, suspended in the center of the hall, should be examined. A map showing the distribution of the sperm whale is exhibited on the north wall, together with an account of the animal. A small model of the sulphurbottom or blue whale gives a good idea of this creature, the largest animal that ever lived.

The wolves, foxes and members of the dog family occupy the next case, represented by the Alaskan wolf, arctic fox, Eskimo dog, raccoon dog, swift fox and a family of timber wolves. A floor case nearby shows a group of red foxes and young in their natural habitat and south of these an-other habitat group shows the common eastern skunk with nest and young in typical surroundings. Various small carnivorous animals, including the palm cat of Borneo, civet cat, wolverene, weasel, otter, Himalayan panda and Brazilian coati-mundi, appear in the next large case, and here also raccoons, black bear and a skeleton of the polar bear are shown.

The study of the beasts of prey in the next exhibit is made more interesting by a pictorial representation of the Mesonyx, a typical example of the Creodonts or extinct primitive beasts of prey from which the existing types have been derived. Some rare specimens are exhibited, including the clouded tiger; ocelot, or tiger cat, and the snow leopard, or ounce. The jaguar leopard and wild cat are also exhibited, and a list of books of reference may be consulted on the adjacent wall.

Insect-eating mammals are particularly well represented in the Museum by a group in the next floor case. The common mole, which feeds upon underground insects; the star-nosed mole, so called because of the curious star-like formation on the end of its snout; the African or golden mole, rare in collections; the common shrew; the water shrew of western Africa, which can swim and feeds upon water beetles and crustaceans; the squirrel shrew of Asia which feeds on insects and fruit; the African jumping shrew; the curious solenodon, a little-known animal confined to the islands of Cuba, Santo Domingo and Haiti; the hedge-hog of Europe, whose bristly spines enable it to turn into a prickly ball in the presence of danger, and the tenrec, or Madagascar hedgehog, complete a representative series of the Insectivora.
Members of the bat family occupy other side of case.

 

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