Mammoths and Mastodons: Titans of the Ice Age make their way to the Ontario Science Centre

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TORONTO, Feb. 10, 2016 /CNW/ - Discover the science behind Mammoths and Mastodons: Titans of the Ice Age, which opens at the Ontario Science Centre on February 10, 2016. Through exciting hands-on displays, learn how researchers use cutting-edge science to excavate and analyze tusks, teeth, skin, hair and stomach contents to learn more about these amazing creatures, uncovering and connecting the factors that contributed to their evolution and extinction. Modern-day research and genomics techniques will be showcased through programs and workshops in collaboration with exhibition partners McMaster University and Ontario Genomics.

"In addition to getting up-close and personal to these magnificent creatures that roamed Ontario in the last ice age, this exhibition and related programing highlight the DNA science that helps clarify their relations and possible extinctions, simultaneously raising the tantalizing possibility of de-extinction," said Dr. Maurice Bitran, CEO of the Ontario Science Centre. "The fascinating thing about genomics, the science of DNA sequencing and mapping, is that – through genetic testing, personalized medicine, genetically-enhanced crops and environmental solutions – it is one of the many keys to our future."

Mammoths and mastodons – great beasts weighing as much as eight tons and bearing tusks up to five-metres-long – existed for millions of years. But despite their size and ability to adapt to different habitats, these early cousins of the elephant eventually disappeared, leaving an abundant fossil record.

"The Ice Age world was, geologically speaking, just a moment ago. Here in Ontario, we are living on deposits sculpted and left behind by glaciers. These deposits contain buried fossils of a fascinating array of extinct animals," said Dr. Hendrik Poinar, principal investigator, Ancient DNA Centre, McMaster University. "My graduate students are analyzing the DNA of these animal remains in order to better understand who was here when and why many of them went extinct synchronously."

Mammoths and Mastodons gives visitors an opportunity to delve deeper into the Ice Age. The exhibition shows environments that awe and amaze through large-scale projections, walk-through dioramas and virtual experiences. The exhibition features large, fleshed-out creatures and skeletons that visitors can touch and examine up close.

Another highlight is a replica of Lyuba, the remarkably well-preserved, 42,000-year-old baby mammoth found in 2007 by a Siberian reindeer herder and two of his sons. Also showcased are rare and evocative objects including some of the oldest art in existence, huge skulls and tusks, weird and wonderful mammoth relatives – including dwarf mammoths – and mastodon bones.

The exhibition explores not only how these Ice Age creatures lived, forming herds similar in social structure to those of modern elephants, but also how they died and went extinct. It explores the roles played by climate change, human predation and other factors.

"These animals were victims of the extinction process that threatens animals we know today – animals we would hate to lose," said Dr. Daniel C. Fisher, lead curator of the exhibition and professor of earth and environmental sciences at the University of Michigan. "Mammoths and Mastodons demonstrates how we can learn what these animals were like using cutting-edge science to piece together the past and perhaps redirect processes now poised to affect our future."

Mammoths and Mastodons: Titans of the Ice Age opens at the Ontario Science Centre on February 10 and runs through April 24, 2016. The exhibition and related programs are included with general admission.

This exhibition was created by The Field Museum, Chicago.

KNOWLEDGE PARTNER: McMaster University
SUPPORTING PARTNER: Ontario Genomics

The Ontario Science Centre has welcomed more than 50 million visitors since it opened in 1969, implementing an interactive approach now adopted by science centres around the world. Today, the Science Centre is an international leader in free-choice science learning and a key player in Ontario's innovation ecosystem, offering lifelong learning through hands-on, engaging experiences. The Ontario Science Centre is an agency of the Government of Ontario funded in part by the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport. For more information about the Ontario Science Centre, please visit www.OntarioScienceCentre.ca.

For images and video, please visit: www.OntarioScienceCentre.ca/Media/ImagesVideo

SOURCE Ontario Science Centre

Image with caption: "Mammoths and Mastodons at the Ontario Science Centre (CNW Group/Ontario Science Centre)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20160210_C7403_PHOTO_EN_616745.jpg

For further information: Media contacts: Anna Relyea, Director, Strategic Communications, 416-696-3273 | c: 416-668-1967, Anna.Relyea@osc.on.ca; Jefferson Darrell, Media Relations Officer, 416-696-3154, Jefferson.Darrell@osc.on.ca; Andrea Mus, Media Relations Officer, 416-696-3191 | c: 416-895-5482, Andrea.Mus@osc.on.ca

RELATED LINKS
https://www.ontariosciencecentre.ca

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