Nearly 600 members of the community became engrossed in the wonder of science during Behind the Scenes Day Sunday, Feb. 8, 2015. Because the collections will be moved over to a state-of-the-art storage facility beginning later in 2015, this was the last event of its kind to be held at Ruthven. If you missed out, or wish to return, watch for Behind the Scenes Day in a couple of years at the new location, once the dust settles.

Professor Tom Duda, curator of mollusks at the U-M Museum of Zoology, asked visiting children which ocean they heard within the large shells he held to their ears. One little girl enjoyed stacking the shells on top of each other.

“I love their creativity,” Duda said, recalling how young children made associations using their own knowledge to come up with possible answers to various questions. The Mollusk Division presented, among other items, a box of shells that included land snails of all different colors from the Caribbean. “Why do you think they’re all different colors?” Duda asked. One child said maybe it’s so that birds that prey on them can recognize individuals in a population. Whether or not their answers were correct, he said it was great to see them thinking and being creative.

“I always like showing specimens with stories,” said Cody Thompson, assistant research scientist and Mammal Division collection manager. “One of the more interesting specimens in ourPink fairy armadillo collection is a pink fairy armadillo (Chlamyphorus truncatus), a gift to U-M from His Excellency, D. F. Sarmiento, the former President of Argentina, in 1868. The specimen was donated by Sarmiento after he was granted an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from U-M while serving as the Argentine ambassador to the U.S. The backstory is obviously interesting, but what is great is that the information preserved with this specimen makes it very useable for modern research.”