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For Immediate Release

Fernbank’s Newest Special Exhibit, Amazing Animals: Built to Survive, to Open October 3

Guests will get to experience the biomechanics of the natural world through a “nuts and bolts” breakdown

Atlanta, September 17, 2020 – Fernbank Museum announces its newest special exhibit, Amazing Animals: Built to Survive, set to open on Saturday, October 3, 2020. The exhibit takes guests into the natural world, explores the traits of plants and animals, and reveals the marvels of natural engineering to showcase that evolution is Earth's greatest inventor.

With interactive displays, life-like models, preserved real specimens, and immersive footage and photography, Amazing Animals investigates how a cheetah can run so fast; how birds can navigate through the air and fish swim through water; how strong the grip of a chimpanzee is; and how organisms are built to survive, explore and find their next meal, all while avoiding being one in the process.

Organisms face threats to their survival every day. Creatures in the natural world must develop tools that allow them to withstand threats to their survival, including wind, water, extreme elements and even gravity. Here, guests will have the opportunity to see how flexible fibers as well as rigid structures have formed in different organisms to resist the elements. Bones and shells on display in the exhibition showcase this evolutionary blend of flexibility and rigidity through dome-shaped structures that are among the most protective and common in the natural world; found in the human skull, tortoise shells and even in the construction of a horseshoe crab’s shell.

While external forces are working to break organisms down from the outside, internally the fight for survival rages on. By examining five heart models from a mammal, bird, reptile, amphibian and fish, guests will see that while these vital organs vary in shapes and size, they are crucial “pumps,” providing key life-support to cells throughout the body. Visitors will have the opportunity to “pump” blood through a giraffe’s body using a heart model, as well as getting an up-close view at a real giraffe heart on display with this interactive experience.

Muscles and joints act as motors and levers, setting the internal mechanisms in organisms’ jaws, claws and legs. Amazing Animals takes a closer look at the design and function of these tools and how they allow for success while hunting and exploring. Visitors will witness the ultimate bite force of Dunkleosteus, an extinct species of fish, through a mechanical model; explore how a cheetah’s spine works as a spring and see just how complex the way a human walk truly is. Amazing Animals also examines the quick, powerful, and graceful movements of smaller animals such as mantis shrimps, trap jaw ants, and beetle larvae.

While the complex human gait allows us to move through our environment, animals that fly through the air or move through the water have adapted a different way to navigate their terrain. Aerodynamic bodies have allowed for animals such as birds, fish and other creatures to move stealthily through their environment, quickly propelling them along the way. Visitors will get a chance to “fly” as they test out the functions of both large and small wings in an interactive experience.

Reliance on specialized senses is crucial for plants and animals to survive. Amazing Animals explores the amazing ear of a Northern Saw-whet Owl, the extra antennae of a Luna Moth that allows it to smell farther than any creature on earth and many other sensory mechanisms that ease the fight for survival. Guests can also explore the evolution of the senses through an interactive display showcasing the eye and how the mechanisms inside this sensory organ have developed over time.

Biomimicry, or the way humans have taken exemplary traits from the natural world and applied them to help solve human problems, will also be showcased. With human inventions such as Velcro being derived from the natural world, nature is one of the best tools we can use to find inspiration. These applications and many more will be explored.

Amazing Animals: Built to Survive is presented in both English and Spanish. This bilingual exhibition was developed by The Field Museum in partnership with the Denver Museum of Nature & Science and is funded by a grant from the Searle Funds at The Chicago Community Trust and ITW foundation. Amazing Animals is sponsored locally by the Isdell Family Foundation, the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation and UPS.

Amazing Animals: Built to Survive will be on exhibit from October 3, 2020 until January 3, 2021. Admission is included with the purchase of a museum ticket and is free for members. Ticket prices are $20 for adults, $19 for seniors and $18 for children. To purchase tickets or view pre-visit information, frequently asked questions, safety protocols and more, please visit


Media Inquiries:
Tyler Thornton, Public Relations Specialist

Fernbank, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, is one of the most popular and iconic cultural destinations in Atlanta. A collection of experiences rooted in science, nature and human culture, the attraction includes a natural history museum, giant screen 3D theater and 75 acres of nature adventures that include the largest urban old-growth Piedmont Forest in the United States. Visit for more information and join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.