Ever wonder how a cheetah can run so fast? Or how birds are able to plot a course through the air? Or how strong a chimpanzee’s grip is?

Those questions – and many others – are answered in Fernbank Museum newest special exhibit, “Amazing Animals: Built to Survive,” which transports guests into the natural world, explores the traits and plants and animals and showcases the concept that evolution is the earth’s greatest inventor.

“Amazing Animals: Built to Survive, ” which includes interactive displays, lifelike models, preserved real specimens and immersive footage and photography, will be on exhibit at Fernbank through Jan. 21, 2021.

Visitors to the exhibit will be able to see how flexible fibers, as well as rigid structures, have formed in different organisms to resist the elements and continue to sustain themselves despite threats to their survival like wind, water, extreme elements and even gravity.

One of the most interesting aspects of the exhibit involves muscles and joints acting as motors and levers, setting the internal mechanisms in the jaws, claws and legs of animals. A closer look at these particular tools amply display how animals are able to survive with hunting and exploring.

Guests are able to explore how a cheetah’s spine works as a spring and will learn that the way a human walks is truly a complex operation. The quick, powerful and graceful movements of smaller animals, like mantis shrimps, trap jaw ants and beetle larvae are also displayed.

Other compelling aspects of the exhibit include a survey of heart models from mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish; the dynamics of flight and movement; reliance on specialized senses; and biomimicry (or the way humans have taken traits from the natural world and have applied them to help solve human problems).

The exhibit is presented in both English and Spanish and is sponsored locally by the Isdell Family Foundation, the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation and UPS.

Admission is included with the purchase of a museum ticket and is free for Fernbank members. Ticket prices are $20 for adults, $19 for seniors and $18 for children.

In addition to “Amazing Animals,” Fernbank’s Giant Screen Theater has reopened to the public on weekends and major holidays, and is currently screening “Australia’s Great Wild North,” a sojourn to Australia’s Top End, one of the earth’s most isolated locales.

The Giant Screen Theater closed in March due to the coronavirus pandemic and now operates with a limited schedule, limited capacity, physically distanced seating, enhanced cleaning and additional safety precautions. Face coverings are required.

“Australia’s Great Wild North,” which is sponsored locally by the Isdell Family Foundation, plays on weekends and holidays at 11:15 a.m., 1:15 p.m. and 3:15. “Hidden Pacific,” which was playing when the theater closed, is also available for viewing.

Fernbank is offering a special reopening offer, featuring movies as a $5 add-on to general admission through Nov. 22. Movie-only tickets are not available.

For more information, visit FernbankMuseum.org.

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