Natural history museums are a great way to find out what a dinosaur bone or dinosaur skeleton looks like when scientists have pieced them together. Natural history museums tell the story of evolution using historical artifacts found in nature such as fossils, resins like amber, imprints on stone and fossilized skeletal remains and fossilized plant matter. Evolution is a working theory that provides a testable explanation for how species of plants and animals differ, change over time, and how the species on the tree of life work together either competitively or cooperatively.
See my Northern Florida Natural History Museum Slide Show of photographs taken at Northern Florida Natural History museum locales.
Here’s four of the best places to find natural history records in Florida:
Orlando Museum of Science, Orlando, Florida
Orlando Museum of Science has four floors, one of which is dedicated to natural history. It includes many full-replicas of dinosaur bone skeletons, sample bones, touch and feel explanations for children and also the remains of many local species, or earlier species of animals like manatees. Other exhibits at the Orlando Museum of Science included an exhibit on frogs including live frogs, an display about radiology, an exhibit on astronomy and several areas where children can play with science. One of our favorite experiences was the 3D movie about the ancient sea creatures shown at the museum.
Hours: M-Th 9-5, F-S 9-9, Sun 12-5
Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville, Florida
The Florida Museum of Natural History has one very large exhibit laid out in time line format of artifacts explaining evolutionary theory and showing species that existed on Earth, including the earliest sea creatures such as algae found embedded in stone. One fun feature of this natural history museum is it has artist renditions showing the animal skeleton in the way it would have looked right beside the skeleton. It’s a great way to see those early nautilus, sharks, and even giant sloths as well as dinosaurs that were found in Florida. Other exhibits included displays of butterflies from around the world, Florida coastal ecology, and an interesting veterinary office viewed through glass.
Hours: M-S 10-5, Sun 1-5
Cost: Free, extra $8.50 charge for the butterfly rainforest.
One place to buy natural history artifacts in the Orlando, Florida area is:
Ancient Artifacts and Treasures, Winter Haven, Florida. We found shells, polished semi-precious gems, fossils polished and unpolished and much more for a reasonable price.
One of the places where natural history artifacts have been found and is worth the visit is the:
Devil’s Millhopper State Park, where you can walk into a sinkhole containing plants and animals found in the Appalachian mountains, and read about and see some of the artifacts found in the sinkhole. The walk is gradual with benches along the way and quite short, 1 mile round trip.
Hours : W-Su 9-5 for the museum and audiovisual presentation, otherwise dawn to dusk for the park.
 AAA Guide to Florida