The lit-up window glows nightmares -- a saber-toothed cat, an armadillo as large as a boulder, a beaver as big as grizzly bear. All teeth and bones.
They glare down on Calhoun Street from the second floor geology museum in the newly opened School of Sciences and Mathematics building at the College of Charleston. They're the front guys for a horror show that includes the erect bones of an 8-foot-tall cave bear excavated in Romania and believed to be 20,000-40,000 years old, along with the bones of a cub, a stray paw and a skull on the ground.
"Just astounding," said Chris Looney, of Greenville, a senior geology major, as he gazed through the glass door at the bear.
Then there's the T-Rex tooth, the triceratops horns, saltwater mosasaurs with snakelike detaching jaws, the skeletons of a warthog-looking pig the size of a buffalo, a millions-of-years old horse and camel the size of dogs. The horse has toes instead of hooves. The camel had 10 horns on its head.
"What impressed me about the camels is the canine teeth. What were they chewing on?" wondered James Carew, geology professor, who is the museum curator.
Let's not even discuss the teeth on the 12-foot-long, 1 1/2-million-year-old alligator on the table in the prep lab behind another window. Eerier and eerier, they all roamed or swam the Lowcountry or somewhere in North America at one time or another.
The fossils are among a half-dozen displays of ancients now housed in the museum, and about half the collection that will be housed when its second phase is finished. The window is the best bet to get a gander. The museum won't open to the public before the summer, while the college works out staffing and other logistics.
The museum is the showpiece of what will be a $70 million, 100,000-square-foot center when it is completely built out.
Among the center's other features are chemistry labs, three-dimensional GIS visualization labs, faculty research space and the Lowcountry Hazards Center, where an earthquake preparedness center and a back-up county emergency operations center will operate.
The whole works is designed to environmental "green" standards.
Mount Pleasant businessman and collector Mace Brown donated the fossils to the college and worked for more than six years with Carew, his friend, to house them. They raised $128,000 to outfit the museum's first phase, and are trying to raise another $230,000-240,000 to outfit the Oceans through Time and history of sharks displays.
The fossils used to festoon Brown's office and home like bizarre ornaments on a necklace of walls. Tough to let go?
"Oh, I'm tickled. My wife, Chris, is really tickled not having them at home," he said laughing.
"It's really awesome," Carew said, "a wonderful thing for the college."
Reach Bo Petersen at 937-5744 or email@example.com.