Michigan State University

Hours: The museum is currently closed due to COVID-19

Hall of Animal Diversity

Through the display of animals organized by themes of adaptation, the exhibit shows the diversity in animals and different species, and how they have evolved adaptations to their habitats

Exhibit Themes:

  • What’s happening in your backyard: birds, snakes and squirrels that are found in common Michigan neighborhoods, include the Eastern garter snake, blue jay, and fox squirrel.
  • Island animals: animals that have evolved in isolation away from any potential competitors or predators such as the wallaby, kiwi, and echidna.
  • Camouflage: animals with natural colors and patterns, which becomes an advantage in the battle for survival, such as the cheetah, deer, rattlesnake, snowy owl, and bongo.
  • Patterns: useful for advertising when trying to attract a mate, and helpful to disguise identity to fool a predator. Animals displaying these characteristics are the monarch butterfly, owl butterfly, ring-necked pheasant, and the wood duck.
  • Day and Night: animals can share the same territories and food shifts, but do not compete directly because some hunt in the day while others hunt at night. Representative animals include the Kestrel, screech owl, red-shouldered hawk, barred owl, red-tailed hawk, and the great horned owl.
  • Adaptations over time: animals that have evolved adaptations to survive in different environments. The giant anteater has a long snout, tongue, powerful claws and wiry hair that allow them to eat up to 30,000 ants or termites per day. The antilopine wallaroo has jumping abilities and carries their young in their pouch.
  • Arctic animals: evolution in body shape and size have developed over time to ensure animals keep warm in temperatures that can reach 50 degrees below zero, such as the snowy owl, arctic fox, and musk ox.
  • Ducks: subtle changes in beaks, body shape and legs have helped ducks adapt to diverse environments, including the stiff-tail duck, diving duck, fish duck, and hooded merganser.
  • White tail deer challenge: how deer in Michigan have adapted to changes in weather, habitat and human activity.
  • Wetland animals of mid-Michigan: black tern, northern water snake, black-crowned night heron, muskrat, and Blanding’s turtle.
  • Mural of Michigan wetlands: Michigan pond and wildlife diorama, 1996, Gijsbert Frankenhuyzen (aka “Nick”). Wall mural with corresponding diagrams.


Hall of Animal Diversity

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