After getting frozen in Washington's Ice Age, let's warm up with a little science at the Burke! Once you've left the Ice Age exhibit, there's another hands-on science area where kids and adults can hang out with a microscope and make tiny things big.

Image shows Suzanne, a woman with dark brown hair in a bun, wearing a brown blouse and a long patterned peasant skirt, sitting at a table and looking at a slide under a microscope.

Suzanne does science! Credit: Dana Hunter

You can see from the toys on the floor that there's plenty for small children to do while the children ages 3-145 play with the slides. There are also drawers full of bird, plant, and mammal collections that you can pull out and explore.

Once you've filled yourself to the brim with hands-on science, you can step over to one of my favorite displays at the museum: a huge wall that's all about evolution.

Image shows a white wall with a black evolutionary tree painted on it. The words Why Study Evolution? are printed in huge letters on the smaller wall angled at the left. Parchment-colored plaques mounted around the tree explain evolution and why it's important to study.

I feel creationists probably hate this wall. Credit: Dana Hunter

Further along, you'll come to another wall full of fieldwork and samples. This is a dense and awesome display full of information about what Burke Museum scientists have been discovering out in the field. I love this inside view into how science is done! And it's got a distinct sense of humor in many places.

Photo shows a wall display with the caption,

I love how startled this horse looks. Credit: Dana Hunter.

Samples in Plexiglass cases mounted below the displays contain helpful samples illustrating what field workers are uncovering. Here, for instance, one can get an up-close view of the evolution of equine teeth.

Image shows the jaws of Miohippus, 28 million years old, and Merychippus, 16 million years old, in a plexiglass case with a red base.

Early horse jaws. Credit: Dana Hunter

You can even get a look at a field notebook, which is one of my favorite things ever.

Image shows a field notebook, a sturdy book with cream colored pages and an orange elastic band to hold the pages closed. It's propped open showing sketches of an outcrop with notes about the different rock and soil layers found.

This is what science looks like! Credit: Dana Hunter

And you'll also find a case displaying Washington State's own very first dinosaur!

Image shows a plexiglass case on top of a gray stand emblazoned with Washington's First Dinosaur. The fossil looks a bit like a dark bony funnel. An informational sign shows its age and some details about it. You can find that information in the linked article below.

Our first dinosaur fossil! Credit: Dana Hunter

I mean, it's not exactly from around here, but then again, most of Washington State came from somewhere else. We've been plastered to the North American continent in bits and pieces over the last several hundred million years. Still. It is a fossil found within our borders, and since dinosaur fossils are incredibly rare here, we're excited!

Check it out:

The fossil is a partial left thigh bone of a theropod dinosaur, the group of two-legged, meat-eating dinosaurs that includes VelociraptorTyrannosaurus rex and modern birds. It was found along the shores of Sucia Island State Park in the San Juan Islands.

The fossil is approximately 80 million years old and is from the Late Cretaceous period. During that time, the rocks that today form Sucia Island were likely further south. How much further south is a topic of scientific debate, with locations ranging between present day Baja California, Mexico, and northern California. Earthquakes and other geologic forces that constantly reshape our planet moved the rocks north to their present-day location.

That's a heck of a long way for this fossil to travel.

Image is a close view of the dinosaur fossil, which definitely looks like a weird sort of funnel.

Look at our beautiful baby! Credit: Dana Hunter

I'm hopeful we'll find other dinos that hitched rides on exotic terranes and became one with us.

Now that you've been through the permanent science exhibits, you've looped back around to stand opposite from the display case you saw when you first entered. Now that you've read up on evolution and all, it's a great time to take a closer look at the lovely skulls on display. Can you identify the animals they're from?

Image shows a vertical display of five white skulls mounted against a black wall. One of them has completely orange teeth; another has teeth that have a burnt-orange strip down the front.
Credit: Dana Hunter

I'll give you a hint: there's a nutria, raccoon, red fox, beaver, and bobcat. The nutria should be super-easy! And that in turn should help you figure out the beaver.

There's so much more to the Burke, but we're going to stop here with the permanent non-anthropology science exhibits. Explore their website to see what temporary exhibits are in town, and visit the anthropology section downstairs. I'll probably write those displays up at my other blog En Tequila Es Verdad soon. I'll link here when I do for those who love culture as much as geology.