Like most New Yorkers, I've spent a lot of time in the Natural History Museum. I've slept under the great whale, made out in the photo booth to the sound of laughing schoolchildren, dreamt in the planetarium and fell in love under the dinosaurs. It’s a place you go to learn and explore, a place you go on a lazy Sunday when no one has another idea to offer up. The last time I went though, was with Ursula, Jeannie and Felix, and we went with a mission — to help Evan touch the mythical Andrewsarchus skull that had intrigued him so. An animal known only to exist by one single skull. We arrived and battled weekend crowds getting on and off the elevators as we rode to the top floor. The dinosaur floor is full of bone specimens, ubiquitous to most museums like common run-of-the-mill characters i.e: Tyrannosaurus and Apatosaurus. Majestic? Yes. Thought provoking? Yes, but they aren’t unique. They don't speak of individuality, but instead a composite cloudy image that we’ve pieced together from magazines and movies, from dreams and fairytales. What we were in search for was something singular in nature like Evan. Something that existed and we have clear proof that existed, but yet still left so many unanswered questions. Something we could sit and discuss for hours, yet get no closure to grasp or wrap our heads around. That is what we went in search for that day and I’m glad to say we didn't find it. What defines singularity is a mystery I hope humanity never discovers.
- Andrew Torrens
Included here too are photos from a recon mission Evan, Ursula, super-new Felix and I took in July of 2012. Evan passionately wanted to touch the Andrewsarchus, a singular physical remnant supporting proof that land mammals descended from sea creatures. Based solely on learnings from this one skull, it’s believed the Andrewsarchus shares characteristics with hippos, whales, alligators, and wolves, among other beasts. Evan’s reverence and curiosity was intense, and for whatever reason, the notion of coming into physical contact with this was of utmost interest. The header image of Andrewsarchus on this page is the image Evan chose to be his email profile picture! It was also one of the many images he kept with him at the hospital. We spent most of our time that day examining the skull and how it was contained in the museum. Could he climb over the glass wall, fulfill his fantasy, and climb back over the glass joinery without getting caught? What would the repercussions be for touching something off-limits but sturdy enough to be exposed to open air and sunlight? Trespassing? Vandalism? Would police come or just museum security? We relished in pondering these details, and Evan seemed at ease with any potential outcome. It’s likely the bone fragment we tossed over the glass has since been cleaned up, but Evan and the Andrewsarchus have indeed come into contact, bone to bone. And if you come to arrest me, I just made this up.
- Jean Scofield Maxwell