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Animal Crossing’s new museum is an ode to evolution

Where did that sassy anteater in your town come from?

Standing in the museum in Animal Crossing: New Horizons Image: Nintendo EPD/Nintendo via Polygon
Russ Frushtick is the director of special projects, and he has been covering the world of video games and technology for over 15 years. He co-founded Polygon in 2012.

If you’ve played Animal Crossing before, you’ll know just how important the museum is to the experience. The idea is to donate all of the fish and bugs you find to create living exhibits for you to explore. But not everything you donate is alive. You can also stumble upon fossils buried in your town and have them assessed for enormous dinosaur exhibits, alongside other long-extinct species.

Fossils return in Animal Crossing: New Horizons, naturally, but they come with a slight twist.

Image: Nintendo EPD/Nintendo via Polygon
It all starts with a single cell ...
Image: Nintendo EPD/Nintendo via Polygon

When you first walk into the museum’s fossil section, you’ll notice a glowing circle on the ground. The circle has lines coming out of it that quickly branch out. In the first room, following the lines will lead to fossils of simple organisms like trilobites and ammonites.

Early critters in Animal Crossing New Horizons musuem
The dimetrodon and the juramaia
Image: Nintendo EPD/Nintendo via Polygon

But if you keep following the lines, things will get a lot more interesting. The next room leads to dinosaurs. The line branches off before the dinos, though, to a pedestal showing a dimetrodon (a progenitor of non-mammalian creatures) and a juramaia (a progenitor of mammalian creatures).

The line continues from there into the next room.

The sabertooth tiger and the mammoth in the museum of Animal Crossing New Horizons
On to the mammoth and the sabertooth tiger
Image: Nintendo EPD/Nintendo via Polygon

Here’s where it all comes together. We see a mammoth and a sabertooth tiger alongside other extinct super mammals. And above them the lines lead directly to silhouettes showing many of the villager species in Animal Crossing: New Horizons. An elephant silhouette directly above the mammoth, a cat silhouette above the sabertooth tiger, and so on.

If you keep walking down the row of villager silhouettes you’ll reach a blank space. Below it sits an australopith skull (an early genus of humans from several million years ago). Walk into the blank space and poof, a light turns on showing that you are the piece that was missing!

Standing in an empty space of the museum in Animal Crossing New Horizons
The missing piece
Image: Nintendo EPD/Nintendo via Polygon

Animal Crossing: New Horizons is filled with clever touches like this, really emphasizing the care the developers put in to bring this world to life.

The next level of puzzles.

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