Ondatra zibethicus
Bruce Museum Collection 2008.15

Agkistrodon contortrix
Bruce Museum Collection FIC2007.02

Dead Leaf or Orange Oakleaf
Kallima inachus
Bruce Museum Collection FIC2009.02

Eat or Be Eaten: Animal Survival Strategies

November 21, 2009 - November 28, 2010

The fascinating and sometimes bizarre adaptations of predators and prey in the natural world is the focus of the year-long exhibition Eat or Be Eaten: Animal Survival Strategies. In the complex web of life, animals have evolved a variety of strategies that help them find food and avoid becoming someone else’s meal in the struggle for survival. Over 70 specimens of insects, shells, fish, reptiles, mammals, and birds from the Bruce Museum collection illustrate how animals detect, capture and consume prey while minimizing risk from predators.

Museum visitors may need to take a second look to find the camouflaged creatures hiding in plain sight while their cryptic coloration provides disguise as a leaf, stick or part of the snowy landscape.

Examining form and function as well as behavioral adaptations, the exhibition includes some of the speediest, most dangerous, and unusual creatures on earth. Compare fossil and modern-day dragonflies to see how little has changed in 150 million years with the world’s fastest insect. An exploration of animal motion features the pronghorn, which can outrun a cheetah over a long distance. Skulls of carnivores such as shark, mountain lion, alligator and harpy eagle contrast with those of omnivores like the opossum and muskrat and plant-eaters like the rabbit and fossil horse. Microscopic views of the different mouthparts of the mosquito, bee, fly, and tick show why not all bites are the same.

Play a marine food web game. And see if you can match the function of a bird's beak to an everyday tool.

The show is supported by a Committee of Honor under the leadership of Richard and Debra Kolman, and the Charles M. and Deborah G. Royce Exhibition Fund.