Sunday, June 10, 2012

Sharing Paradise [3]

The Museum national d'Histoire naturelle is a vast place.  It sits at the top of the Jardin des Plantes, down in the 5th arrondisement.

Greeted by a whale

 Greeted by a whale...

Our neighbor from the States had spent two weeks in the Alps trying to avoid eating the marmots the scientists were studying.  Well, that was the joke, anyways.

She'd had a great time counting marmots, or whatever they did.

After arriving in Paris for a short stay, we learned she was interested in the paleontology museum at the jardin.  As we talked about it riding the bus over to the left bank, we talked a bit about the history of evolution exhibit we'd heard about in the near-by building.

We couldn't make up our minds.  So we wandered the jardin a bit and talked things over.  We knew we couldn't take in both buildings in the afternoon.

Greeted by an Elephant

Keeping watch over the gallery...
Practically flipping a coin, it was decided we should see the history of evolution.

It's worth a visit because the exhibits are extensive and detailed.

We learned the building was constructed after the owner (the king, if memory serves) had run out of space to hold and display all the stuffed animals he'd acquired.  I'm not talking about those small plushy cushy child's toys you see in the toy store, either.  I'm talking about the real deal.  Large animals.  Small.  Birds.  Mammals.  Serpants.  Fish.  Sharks.  Anything that wriggled, squiggled, or giggled.  If it could be collected (ie: shot, trapped, or captured), it will be found here.

Perhaps the most amazing part of the exhibit was the Hall of Extinct Species.

Yes.  That's right.  Dead and never coming back to life animal species were on display.  Sadly, there are a rather large number of species never to wander the earth again.

Hall of Extinct Species

From the Hall of Extinct Species
Back in the day, I used to watch a TV show called "Dinosaurs."  It was a great show, filled with subtle and not so subtle plots lines and actor's lines.  It was subversive, as only Jim Henson could make it.

In one episode, a tasty animal was found to be down to the last breeding pair to be found anywhere.  One dinosaur rhetorically asks "aren't there any more?  After all, that's what more means, right?"

No.  Gone is gone.  Dead is dead.  Never to return is to never return.

Hall of Extinct Species
Dodo.  Extinct.  Gone.  Oh, so tasty.  Once upon a time. But no longer.
There were artifacts and models of the long gone and apparently well eaten Dodo.  The supporting evidences of man's destructive abilities were spread out around the edges and down the center of the adjoining room.

I was incredibly sad to see and read of what is no longer with us.

It underscored, for me, why we moved to France, sold our automobiles back in the States, and put our lives into 5 suitcases.  We are making a conscious decision to walk as lightly on the earth as possible, while living as full lives as possible.

What was it someone told me?  Ah, yes.  A scientist I know noted that if America lived as Europeans do, life on earth would be sustainable.  Indeed.  That's it.  Sustainability.  That's what we're after by living here.

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