When we met our guide, Greeter Doug Pirnie, at Theodore Roosevelt Hall, he promised we would get to see a Show of Superlatives: the fiercest, heaviest, biggest, smelliest, and boy did he deliver.
Doug’s narrative was riveting and fun. He started us out 65 million years ago when dinosaurs roamed the earth. The fiercest of them all? Tyrannosaurus rex: 47 feet long, weighing 6 or 7 tons, with a hole in their hip socket that helped them hunt faster.
The teeth of T.REX were serrated like a steak knife, especially handy when tearing into your fellow dinosaurs. The crushing power of their jaws was between 8,000 and 12,000 pounds and when they broke a tooth, a replacement could show up in 35 days.
On to the animal with the widest wingspan: Pterosaurs, a flying reptile with claws in the middle of its wings. The claws were actually feet when the reptile landed on ground. Its wingspan was 39 feet, not bad, considering the span of an F-16 fighter jet is 36 feet.
The biggest turtle that ever lived? Appropriately named Stupendemys, it was over 5.9 feet long. The largest shark that ever lived? Megladon, 8 feet by 5 feet, but all that survived were its jaws and teeth. It lived to its late twenties, often going through 12,000 replacement teeth in its life.
Somewhat nervously, we came across the most poisonous species on earth, one that has killed over 54 billion people: the Anopheles mosquito. The female mosquito (males don’t sting) had its heyday in New York City in the late 1800s, causing malaria and a mortality rate that skyrocketed.
There were so many other “ests!” to see. Rafflesia is the biggest flower in the world, from Sumatra, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines. It is 40 inches across and 7 to 30 pounds. No sweet aroma though, it smells like rotten meat. The heaviest animal that ever lived? The Blue Whale, found in Antarctica in 1925, weighs 200 tons, and there are only 12,000 to 20,000 thousand Blue Whales alive today. The scariest species for elephants? Man… who kills them for their ivory tusks.
As we left, we decided one word described what we had just seen: Superlative!