Life at Sea

SS La Provence, 1905 || Charles Verne (active ca. 1890-1910) || paper, ink

Family life at sea: it was not uncommon for the ship’s Master to bring his family aboard. With many voyages lasting months or years, the only way to keep the family together was to bring them on the journey. The captain’s family lived aft, in the cabins off the saloon, and dined with the captain. Children were occasionally born at sea and, in these cases, often spent their formative years away from land.

While captains’ wives typically had on official duties, there are a number of examples of women aboard ships learning navigation, and in one case even taking command of the ship when the captain fell ill.

The ship’s wheel is located here so as to be mechanically close to the rudder, which is directly underneath the gear box. The gear box contains the worm gear and mechanisms that connect the wheel to the rudder. This wheel, which is original to Wavertree, is unusual for its odd number of spokes.

The poop deck, also called the quarterdeck, is the raised deck in the stern of the ship. The term ”poop deck” has its roots in the French word for the stern, la poupe – and not in what you thought (I did too)…

Touring the 1885 tall ship Wavertree, flagship of the Seaport Museum fleet.

South Street Seaport Museum

June 15th, 2019

Natural History Course

Walking through the immensity of the Museum of Natural History, in Upper West Side. Every room another wonder of our Cosmos.


Megaloceros (Greek: μεγάλος – megalos + κέρας – keras, meaning “Great Horn”) may be the largest deer ever to have lived. It belongs to the group called artiodactyls (Greek: άρτιος – ártios + δάκτυλος – dáktylos, meaning ‘even finger/toe’) – hoofed mammals that usually have an even number of toes. Generally, only male artiodactyls have antlers. In living deer, they are used during the mating season for wrestling with other males and attracting females. Then, they are shed. This means that Megaloceros regrew its enormous antlers every year!

Stenomylus hitchcocki

Stenomylus (Greek στενός – stenos “narrow” and μύλος – milos [latin: mola] “molar” meaning ”narrow tooth”. This group of camel skeletons was buried in dune sand in western Nebraska 22 million years ago. These individuals are only some of the numerous completely preserved camel skeletons that were found together at a site in Agate Springs National Monument. Stenomylus lived in a region where dune fields extended widely. It was relatively primitive in its body skeleton, but had the more advanced feature of very high-crowned teeth – presumably to cope with sand-laden food, which rapidly wears down the teeth. 

If I understood correctly, ”hitchcocki” was added in honour of Dr. Edward Hitchcock, a geologist and President of Amherst College, whose Ichnology Collection of dinosaur footprints and tracks is invaluable (read more about it here).



Mammoths were widespread during the Ice Ages. Some had woolly fur to keep them warm. This is a ”non-woolly” mammoth that lived in southern parts of the United States, which were not covered by glaciers. Like living elephants, Mammoths had trunks. We can’t see it on this skeleton, because soft parts are rarely preserved as fossils. But we can see where the trunk was attached, at the large single opening high on the front of the skull. The Greek myth of one-eyed giants, the Cyclops, may have arisen when ancient people found fossil provoscidean skulls and mistook this nostril opening for an eye socket. Most mammoths died out by 11.000 years ago but a few somewhat dwarfed forms persisted until about 3.000 years ago on remote arctic islands.

(click on photo for a panoramic view and caption)

This stuffed beauty
(although I instinctively dislike stuffed animals)

Creatures of the sea hanging in mid-air
And those that came from the cold

American Museum of Natural History

November 13th, 2016