Last week, I posted a photo of a real human tongue the size of my palm in my hand on the Agenda’s Instagram. My favorite comments were “@enewburg yeah we would’ve yacked” from @beava_diva and “Eww *shudders* but cool hahah” from @echo.and.shadow.
Sure, it was plasticized, but it was still a tongue. I’m right there with you, @beava_diva. I definitely thought I was going to yack.
But it wasn’t even the coolest, weirdest, or grossest thing I saw last week. Discovery Place has over 80,000 items in its archives, and you won’t believe what they’ve got hidden (stay until the end — it’s worth it).
Sure, it looks like just a bird, but it’s a bird preserved in arsenic (seriously) that went extinct when the last living one died at the Cincinnati Botanical Gardens in 1914. While most preserved specimens are adult males, Discovery Place’s is a juvenile that was collected in 1884.
Carolina Parakeet and Passenger Pigeon eggs
Again, this is a big deal because both of these birds went extinct in the early 19th and 20th centuries. The Parakeet egg was donated in the in 1975 from a 60-year old personal collection by the donor’s brother.
These guys are over 4 million years old, and their closest living relative is a nautilus (this guy).
Eastern Hognose Snake
These snakes are completely harmless, but they grow up to 46 inches. This one was collected at what is now the WNOK studio back in 1969.
…and plenty of them. The museum houses over 3,000 spiders collected in North Carolina. Dr. David Grant, a former teacher from Davidson, is renowned for collecting spiders (using a spider web and heat) and marine invertebrates. He retired in 2010 and volunteers every Monday.
In the early 20th century, the Nisbit family owned a 2,000-acre plantation on the Catawba River directly across from the Catawba Reservation and allowed the Catawbas access to their property for clay. In return, they were gifted with over 40 pieces of pottery that were later donated to Discovery Place in 1970.
Collected in Charlotte and found only in North Carolina.
This one came from a person with Alzheimer’s, which explains the deep grooves that have formed.
Animal eyeball lenses
Literally everything but the iris and pupil, preserved lovingly in test tubes by the dozens.
Do you remember that scene in Sweet Home Alabama, where baby Reese Witherspoon, played by Dakota Fanning, was kissed by baby Josh Lucas, played by Thomas Curtis? They kissed because lightning struck the sand to make gorgeous glass and it made him realize that he wanted to marry her so he could kiss her anytime he wants.
Reality check: lightning doesn’t make glass when it strikes sand. It makes this stuff.
The first monkey space suit to ever be shot into space
Ham the Astrochimp was the first hominid to be launched into space back in January of 1961. Ham wasn’t actually his name – it stood for the Holloman Aerospace Medical Center, but he did actually go to space in this little suit that was donated to the museum. The purpose of his flight was to determine if humans could complete tasks in space (Spoiler alert: He proved they could). His suborbital flight lasted 16 minutes and 39 seconds before he landed in the Atlantic Ocean, and his suit kept him from getting any more scratches than a bruised nose.
Space shuttle tiles
Almost 10,000 tiles used for insulation were removed from the surface of the fateful Columbia Space Shuttle, and four have been donated from NASA’s Johnson Space Center.
Pepsi space can
The Pepsi space can was created in 1984 by researchers that wanted to be able to send carbonated drinks into space with astronauts. The challenge came when they needed to figure out how to keep the beverage fizzy while keeping it from spewing out of the can in zero gravity. The answer came in the form of a can not unlike a whipped cream can. In 1985, members of the STS-51-F mission had a taste-test between Pepsi and Coke – neither won.
Jewels from Korea’s Prime Minister
This amethyst jewelry set was a gift to the wife of CIA agent Wiliam Colby from Kim Jong Pil, the wife of Korea’s Prime Minister. Because it’s frowned upon (read: against the rules) to keep gifts, the collection was donated to the U.S. government, who has permanently loaned it to the museum.
This is very much real, although I wanted it to be part of some sick joke. This little guy is classified as a “Domestic Cat,” but was born as anything but into a litter with five normal kittens in 1976 in Matthews.
There you have it. There are 80,000 things hiding in Discovery Place’s archives. What do you want to see?