All photos by Jorge Figueiredo
Canadian winters can be unpredictable, so it’s always good to have back-up plans for outdoor excursions. You could curl up with a video game or go see a flick at the local cinema. Thanks to Mammoths and Mastodons: Titans of the Ice Age – the latest exhibit at the Ontario Science Centre in Toronto – you could also take in some culture and satiate your thirst for knowledge about gargantuan hairy beasts (now more relevant than ever since you’ll be hunting them in the recently released Far Cry Primal). The kiddo and I took a trip to the East end of the Big Smoke to check out what all of the trumpeting is about.
Tucked away in the Special Exhibit space down on Level 6, the Mammoths and Mastodons installation includes hands-on displays, learning stations, and fantastic life-sized replicas. With a focus on DNA science, guests can learn all about these relatives of modern elephants, from their evolution to theories about their mysterious disappearance (which is mind-boggling, considering their ability to adapt to different habitats and conditions).
My daughter (who is 8) found a fair number of activities to keep her engaged. There were models to touch, some neat bronzed skulls to handle, as well as videos and games to play. One of the neatest things that we saw was an interactive display that allowed you to try your hand at controlling a robotic approximation of a mammoth’s (or mastodon’s) trunk. While there was a lot for the younger crowd to do (though honestly, some of these were fun for me, too), there was also a lot of information for adults to digest, making a full walk-through of the display fulfilling for the whole family.
All in all, we enjoyed the exhibit. The kiddo learned a lot about the theories surrounding the extinction of these great beasts and gained an appreciation for how the human race has both recorded the existence of these creatures as well as researched them. The life-sized replicas are also all kinds of fantastic, and really make you wonder how their originals disappeared, pretty much all at the same time all around the world.
If you’re looking to make your way through the exhibit, I’d budget 45 minutes to an hour for a good experience. You might want to set aside a little more time if you want to do everything or if you have kids (the interactive demos are a lot of fun).
Mammoths and Mastodons: Titans of the Ice Age will be at the Ontario Science Centre until April 24.
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