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Friday, December 16, 2016

Naturalis Biodiversity Center in Leiden, Netherlands

Per capita, I might guess that Leiden has the most museums with a population of 117,915 (2011 data). Leiden is just a quick train ride from Amsterdam, and I was excited to meet my friend, Maud there. Though continents and oceans away, Maud and I share a deep love for the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog. It is amazing how the dedication to a breed can lead to almost a decade of friendship. I would be remiss if I did not mention Maud’s photography. Her ability to capture the essence of dogs is incredible, and I will always be in her debt for her photographs of Mouse. 

Windmill selfies.
While in Leiden, we made a visit to the Naturalis Museum that happened to be showcasing the most complete (80%) Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton affectionately named Trix. Trix was found in Wyoming and transported to the Netherlands with a festive welcome. She’s guessed to be around 30 years old. 

Can you outrun Trix?
There were animatronic dinosaurs in the museum, some 3D printers, and even a selfie station setup to get photos right in front of Trix. Though Trix  was a single display, the museum had a very clever ways of packing in a good bit of information into the display. There were educational pieces on how they assessed events that happened in her life due to evidence on the skeleton. However, I personally find it difficult to see the difference between damage to the skeleton when the creature was alive versus damage to the skeleton after being buried in Wyoming for 66 million years. That’s a failing on my part, not the scientists’ part. 

While Trix is impressive and the museum was filled with interactive games, the most exciting discovery for me there was the kenetic sand. The very last interactive section of the museum intended for children. Kinetic sand doesn’t look any different from afar, but one touch of the sand had me intrigued. The sand was moldable and holdable like a plasma, but it also separated and fell apart like regular same. You’re better off buying some to try for yourself. Amazon carries it at ~$25 for 3 lbs, and your inner child will thank you.

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