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'Black' beauty

“Black Mesa” is the most immersive exhibit in the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History.

Courtney Silva May 4th, 2011

Reaching heights of 4,973 feet, the Black Mesa, located in Oklahoma’s panhandle, is the subject of the new, permanent, 2,000-square-foot diorama in the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History, 2401 Chautauqua in Norman.

As the state’s highest, driest and coolest location, Black Mesa bears an unforgiving landscape with dry grasslands and extreme temperatures. But, Linda Coldwell, marketing officer for the museum, said that although the landscape looks harsh and deserted, the area is teeming with life.

“The Black Mesa currently has 150 species of animals living in it, and that’s a big part of what makes our ‘Black Mesa’ exhibit so interesting,” she said. “It’s almost like a scavenger hunt to try to find all of the different animals within the landscape. I think it will surprise people just how many they can find.”

The exhibit includes interactive touch screens that allow people to select topics about which they would like to learn more. Coldwell said they are “a great way for people to be able to dig down deeper into what makes the Black Mesa so fascinating. You can learn about each species of animal, there are range maps, and the list goes on.”

Regular museum hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday. For more information, call 325-4712 or visit snomnh. ou.edu. —Courtney Silva

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