By Jenny Wasson

The Bulletin

Once upon a time, Oregon was home to larger-than-life creatures such as the sabertooth salmon and the Harlan’s ground sloth.

Part of the state’s storied past 300 million years in the making, these creatures are at the center of the Museum of Natural and Cultural History’s new permanent exhibit “Explore Oregon.” Located on the University of Oregon’s campus, the exhibit is housed in a new, 2,755-square-foot exhibition hall that opened May 30 in Eugene.

Featuring rare fossil specimens, vibrant murals, interactive displays and touchable objects, the exhibit explores the forces shaping the state’s landscapes and ecosystems, according to a news release.

The sabertooth salmon was a roughly 7-foot-long fish, related to the modern sockeye salmon. This section of the exhibit includes fossils, a skull cast from a 3-D printer (the giant fossil was discovered near Madras) and a mural painted by Alaskan artist Ray Troll.

Until about 13,000 years ago, giant sloths called Harlan’s ground sloths roamed through Oregon. Unlike the docile tree-dwelling sloths we know of today, these ice-age mammals were the size of elephants. A 7-foot-tall replica skeleton is located at the heart of the exhibit along with fossil claws unearthed in Dayton and a fossil molar from Woodburn.

The exhibition hall doubles the museum’s previous public exhibition space.

General admission is $5 for adults, $3 for seniors (ages 62 and older) and children (ages 3 to 18) and $10 for families (two adults and up to four children). Free admission is provided the first Friday of every month.

For more information, visit or 541-346-3024.

— Reporter: 541-383-0350,