The Dioramas

Close-up of diorama on hibernation. Some fat dormice are asleep in their nest near some provisions of food. (Photo F. Padovan)

The Dioramas
     The top floor of the Museum houses 5 dioramas illustrating different environments, the objective being to show the complexity of various ecosystems and the adaptations which take place in a specific environment. Hibernation, for instance as demonstrated by the fat dormouse and the marmot (diorama 1), camouflage in Alpine pastures shown by the ptarmigan’s, the variable hare’s and the ermine’s colouring, and the competitive courting rituals of males of the same species, as seen with the black grouse (diorama 2).
     In wetlands the reed bed plays a fundamental role in guaranteeing nesting places for marshland birds such as the mallard, provides us with extraordinary examples of camouflaging in the case of the little bittern and adaptation to the environment on the part of the snipe whose beak seems ideal for scratching in the mud (diorama 3).
     In addition some larger animals have been located on this floor: the stag, roe deer, chamois and fallow deer (diorama 4).
     Prehistoric man depended closely on the resources that the severe land of this area offered – he used shelters under the rocks, worked the flint and left some rock paintings (diorama 5).

Prehistoric man
A scene of family life in the late Paleolithic and Mesolithic period (12,000 – 6,500 years ago) has been reconstructed. People at that time had a subsistance economy, tied to hunting and gathering natural crops.
     The Belluno area attracted hunters seasonally, that is during the hottest times of the year, beginning with hunters of the later part of La Gravette (France), who left signs of their passage in Val Cismon near Feltre, in shelters in Villabruna and on the Cansiglio plateau at Palughetto and Bus de la Lum. Subsequently between 9,000 and 6,500 years ago there were mesolithic people on Cansiglio in the neighbourhood of Casera Lissandri and at Antro de le Mate.
     There is also evidence of the presence of prehistoric man in the higher Dolomites, around or above 2,000 metres at Mondeval de Sora, Passo Giau, Forcella Alleghe, Forcella Staulanza, Forcella Pecol and Passo Valparola.
      Two graves of this period have been found in the area of Belluno: one in Val Cismon, of a hunter from 12,000 years ago, buried with painted pots, and the other at Mondeval de Sora which is Mesolithic, dating from about 7,000 years ago.
     These hunters took refuge in natural caves in the rock.

Large mammals in the Belluno area
      The diorama shows some large mammals in their natural settings: a stag, a chamois, two young roe deer and a dark young fallow deer.
     In addition to these the Belluno mountains at present also have ibex, mouflons (from Sardinia) and, from time to time, wild boar.

Wetlands: the reed beds
     Here we show the lakeside environment by the Lake of Santa Croce, the largest and most characteristic in the Province. You can see the reeds, tall grasses, mosses and various birds.
     Typical wildlife are the little bittern, who is well camouflaged among the reeds, a female mallard with ducklings near their nest, three snipe, one in flight, one camouflaged in its position near a trunk on the ground, the other searching for food in the ground and two dragonflies amid the reeds.

Alpine zones
     The diorama contains a ptarmigan which becomes white in winter to merge with the snow, two black grouse in combat position and an ermine.
     Typical birds of this zone are the capercaillie, black grouse, ptarmigan, hazel hen and the Golden Eagle.
     Herbivorous mammals include the ibex, the chamois, the roe deer, the red deer, the white hare and the marmot. Mammal predators include the red fox, the ermine (white in winter), the weasel and the pine marten.

     Hibernation means essentially suspending activity during winter, as do some mammals like the marmot, garden dormouse, fat dormouse and the dormouse. Some animals have an incomplete hibernation as, for example, the badger, the squirrel and the brown bear. Some bats hibernate, some migrate to warmer places.
     Hibernation involves the slowing down of cardiac activity, reduced breathing and lowering of the body temperature which, however, remains a degree or so above the temperature of the surrounding environment.
     Some birds, which are homothermic like mammals, deal with winter by migrating.
     Some mammals, like hares, foxes and some deer, make brief migrations to more temperate zones.