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Faster than a speeding human, able to sniff out trouble and food scraps, and lick away tears – dogs are truly special. Now, their talents, capabilities and biological development are the focus of a new museum exhibit in Los Angeles. “Dogs! A Science Tail” at the California Science Center now through Jan. 5, 2020.
The new, hands-on science exhibition highlights the tremendous bond between humans and dogs. It shows how the two species understand and communicate with each other in such a successful interspecies partnership.
Lots to Sniff Out
“Dogs! A Science Tail” also enables visitors to see, hear, and smell the world like their four-legged friends. Displays let people see the world at dog level, listen to sounds that dogs hear but humans do not, excavate replicas of dog and wolf fossils, and test their pop-culture pet knowledge by playing “Jeopawdy!” (based on ”Jeopardy!”) The science museum also has a display outlining how a dog’s sense of smell works, from the first scent molecules sticking to the wet nose up to the olfactory bulb in the brain, which is larger than a human’s.
A variety of facts about canine companions adorn displays in both English and Spanish. They include items like:
- The length of a dog’s nose affects several things. Dogs with shorter snouts are better at seeing up close and recognizing facial expressions. Dogs with longer snouts have been side and motion vision
- A pug can only run 5 miles per hour, A Siberian husky can run the same speed as Olympian Usain Bolt, 28 miles per hour. However, a greyhound can run faster – 44 miles per hour.
- How ears, tails and legs evolved and were selectively bred to pass on different traits. For example, long and droopy ears help sniff out prey versus pricked pointy ears like a husky’s lose less heat.
- One section deals with unpleasant dog habits like drooling, eating poop and sniffing butts. For example, sniffing crotches gives a dog information about the human’s sex, health, emotions and age.
- Approximately 48 percent of U.S. households include dogs.
As a special feature, there are daily live demonstrations by dogs trained to fulfill various jobs, such as guiding the blind, rescue operations, sniffing out drugs, and other specialized skills. There is also a small gallery featuring art by Norman Rockwell, Charles Schulz and others that depict dogs. They are on loan from filmmaker George Lucas, who will be opening a museum in 2021 near the California Science Center.
Four-Pawed Super Heroes
To complement the exhibit, the IMAX theater at the Science Center is featuring the documentary “Superpower Dogs.” Narrated by filmdom superhero Chris Evans, the uplifting and adorable film introduces audiences to real-life super heroes – dogs using their superpowers to save lives. There is a canine training from puppyhood to be a disaster response dog. Other dogs featured include an avalanche rescue expert in Canada, a lifeguard in Italy, a California surfer who is also a therapy dog, and bloodhounds protecting endangered species in Africa. Besides appearing adjacent to the “Dogs! A Science Tail” exhibit, “Superpower Dogs” is opening this Spring in major cities throughout the U.S. and Canada.
“Dogs! A Science Tail” will eventually travel to other museums, but it will clearly be a hot ticket for pet lovers of all ages visiting L.A. until early next year. The California Science Center and adjacent IMAX Theater are located in the Exposition Park area by the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and the University of Southern California.
By Dyanne Weiss
California Science Center: Dogs! A Science Tail Makes Its World Premiere at the California Science Center March 16, 2019
Photos by Dyanne Weiss