Currently, the Roger Tory Peterson Institute has animal artifacts on display that will take visitors back millions of years, and recently first-graders from Rogers Elementary School received a first-hand look.
"The kids just love it," said Tina Nelson, a staff member at Roger Tory Peterson Institute who served as the students' tour guide. "To see some of these specimens face-to-face can be an eye-opening experience and they really get a lot out of it."
And with everything on hand at the exhibit - called "Fossils! An Incredible Journey Through Time" - there is a lot to take in for students.
First-graders from Rogers Elementary School examine authentic fossilized dinosaur eggs on a tour guided by Tina Nelson at the Roger Tory Peterson Institute.
P-J photo by Chad Gustafson
The exhibit is made up of natural artifacts that include authentic fossilized dinosaur eggs, the skulls of a Tyrannosaurus rex and a triceratops both casted from authentic fossils, the skull of a giant Ice Age beaver, and a large fossilized section of a triceratops' thick and lizard-like skin, punctured with holes from the horns of another triceratops.
The exhibit's main attraction, however, is the casted skull and authentic tusks of an ancient Western New York resident - a Columbian mammoth.
Discovered in Randolph, in 1934, the mammoth is reported to be one of the most intact mammoth findings in New York state, and it's estimated that the colossal animal roamed the area roughly 13,000 years ago.
According to James Berry, president of the institute, the mammoth is on loan through July from the New York State Museum in Albany, and all other artifacts in the exhibit are on loan through April 7 from the Sincak Collection of the Mercyhurst Archaeological Institute, in Erie, Pa.
Berry said the unique and rare collection currently on display is thanks to Dr. Robert Feranec, a curator of the New York State Museum, and Scott McKenzie, curator of the Mercyhurst Archaeological Institute's Sincak Collection. Without these two key connections, Berry said it would be very hard to put together such an exhibit.
"To get these objects out of their home institutions and into our local community, this is not so common and we're very excited about it," said Berry. "Typically, museums don't let out such rare objects."
Berry added that it is just as convenient as it is common for museums to transport specimens like authentic Columbian Mammoth tusks and a replica skull, but in this case, Berry said that Dr. Feranec thought it was important to let these pieces come back to Western New York to be seen by the people who live in the area where it was discovered.