The stars of the natural history museum's Sea Monsters: Savage Ancient Seas roamed the earth just after the period Steven Spielberg popularized a decade ago. "The seas were occupied by these very strange and wonderful organisms," says Joe Hannibal, curator of invertebrate paleontology. "They're not really dinosaurs, but they're spectacular in their own right." The exhibit's fossils and replica casts represent creatures from the Cretaceous period, which immediately followed the more trendy Jurassic period.
Expect to see plenty of giant marine reptiles, flesh-eating fish, and a turtle the size of Gamera. "These are the cool animals that lived in the sea and the animals that ate the animals that lived in the sea," Hannibal says. Sea Monsters runs Saturday through January 4 at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History (1 Wade Oval Drive). Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $4 to $7; call 216-231-4600. -- Michael Gallucci
Learn how to bag a butterfly at the Monarch Tagging.
The Metroparks need help with an autumn mission. "We're going to give everybody nets, and they'll head out to the field to catch monarchs," says naturalist Carly Martin, who leads Saturday's Monarch Tagging expedition. The free program is designed to track butterfly migration before winter. "Catching them is easy, once you get the hang of it," says Martin. She recommends holding the net above the butterfly to capture it; butterflies fly up when they're nervous, she explains, so holding the net skyward minimizes harm. Park officials make note of the butterfly's sex and health, then set it free, whereupon it will continue on its path to Mexico, for a winter spent drinking tequila and reading cheap novels. But first, the tagging: It happens 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. at Old Field at South Chagrin Reservation (off Chagrin River Road in Bentleyville); call 440-247-7075. -- Allen Miller
A hike just isn't a hike without puppets leading the way. Or so believe the folks behind Puppets on Patrol, a stroll through Summit County Metro Parks that's guided by marionettes. "This is the first time we're taking the puppets outside," says naturalist and puppeteer Pat Rydquist. The cast of foam-filled performers -- each equipped with its own walking sticks -- include Ooh Ah Ah Orangutan, Babette the Bullfrog, and Professor Chippy Chipmunk. They'll help junior hikers learn the names of the various animals and flora seen along the way. The puppets hit the Indian Spring Trail at Munroe Falls Metro Park (off State Route 91) at 11 a.m. Sunday. Admission is free. Call 330-865-8065 to register. -- Allen Miller