Cool natural history poster for bathroom contemplation
April 20, 2015 4:47 PM   Subscribe

We have a big, blank wall over the toilet in one of our bathrooms that several of us naturally spend, over the course of the week, a good number of minutes staring at. I'd like to find a graphically interesting, information-dense poster on some aspect of natural history, cosmology, geology, botany, etc. that I can put up there so that we can put this time to better use.

There's also a shower in this room and the ventilation isn't great, so bonus points for something that isn't too expensive and can fit in a cheap, off-the-shelf frame from Ikea.
posted by ryanshepard to Home & Garden (18 answers total) 91 users marked this as a favorite
Totally not scientific... but perhaps something from popchartlabs will catch your eye.

Otherwise perhaps the timetree of life, which shows how a ridiculously huge number of species are related evolutionarily.
posted by brainmouse at 4:52 PM on April 20, 2015 [5 favorites]

There is Raven Maps--absolutely gorgeous and highly detailed--I think I learned about them here.
posted by agatha_magatha at 4:59 PM on April 20, 2015 [3 favorites]

This kind of world history chart always yields new stuff the more you stare at it — "oh wow the Chinese were doing that while this was going on over on the Iberian peninsula? Huh!"

There's also "Histomap," which you might be able to find a reprint of.

Ack, never mind, just saw you want NATURAL history. Sorry, just read what I wanted to read...
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 5:03 PM on April 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

How about some metabolic pathways?
posted by theodolite at 5:17 PM on April 20, 2015 [2 favorites]

I'm a big fan of this "Important Info for Time Travelers" print.
posted by Mchelly at 5:56 PM on April 20, 2015 [9 favorites]

Best answer: This seems like a job for the XKCD shop. Maybe Exoplanet Neighborhoods, Gravity Wells, Lakes & Oceans, or Height?
posted by willbaude at 5:58 PM on April 20, 2015 [4 favorites]

One of the smartest/awesomest families I know has a hand written paper with the geologic time scale taped to the wall in their bathroom.
posted by a22lamia at 7:01 PM on April 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

Crash Course has some great information-dense posters about world history, US history, and the periodic table.
posted by guster4lovers at 7:12 PM on April 20, 2015

Not sure if biology/anatomy is in your interest range, but if so, there are many fine and colorful choices at I Heart Guts.
posted by Sublimity at 8:00 PM on April 20, 2015

Great question! Depending on where you live, there are some neat posters with typologies of Native American projectile points that could be relevant to your location, like these point and trade bead typologies of the northeast Native Americans sold on this website, or the chart "Story in Stone", which features more western points (you'll have to scroll down the pages to find the posters).
posted by Queen of Spreadable Fats at 9:06 PM on April 20, 2015

It looks like you can get a pile of National Geographic maps / natural history infographics for like $.50 to $1.00 each on eBay, maybe less. They'll have creases in them, but they're sometimes interesting, and it sounds like you'd be happy with something cheap and disposable.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 11:02 PM on April 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

Copy, print, or locate maps and charts from the different subject areas you listed. Arrange them as you wish and lay them in the frame, or just apply to the wall with wallpaper paste.
Previewed as Monsieur Caution wrote...
posted by TDIpod at 11:26 PM on April 20, 2015

Best answer: Federal agencies are your friend for this sort of thing; for instance, the National Resources Conservation Service has the Twelve Orders of Soil Taxonomy poster.

You used to be able to order a free copy of the poster from the NRCS Distribution Center website but it looks like it is only a downloadable PDF now. If you have a soil conservation office near you, they may still have the full sized poster for free or at a low cost. A search for 'poster' from the Distribution Center came up with this list of printable PDFs as well.

The USGS publication office offers ecoregion posters, like this Ecoregions of Arizona poster or this Colorado Rockies Hydrology poster from 2010.

Learn about caves from the BLM or pick something pretty from their Artist in Residence program.

Pick an agency that does something you're interested in and find their publications or educational materials and you should have a variety of posters to choose from that meet all your criteria. Hope that helps!
posted by faineant at 12:54 AM on April 21, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: The Story of Vintage and Curious Prints both carry vintage diagrams and maps. The Printed Vintage is similar, though I think they mostly have illustrations rather than diagrams. And Rachel Ingnotofsky's illustrations are informative and beautiful.
posted by neushoorn at 1:06 AM on April 21, 2015 [2 favorites]

After you've learned the poster, consider doing what the Cheaper By the Dozen family did: put up a Morse code poster, then put up daily messages in code so you can practice.
posted by CathyG at 6:51 AM on April 21, 2015

Best answer: I'd like to find a graphically interesting, information-dense poster on some aspect of natural history, cosmology, geology, botany, etc.

The best natural history is something that relates to your real life every day. It's not just a bird, it's a Common Grackle, and it's not sitting in merely a tree, it's sitting in an American Beech. (And probably crapping on a car with a very specific make and model and year, but that's not natural history.)

Get posters of the most common birds, flowers, trees, and maybe shells and bugs and stuff in your area and learn each of them by common and scientific names if possible. Suppose you live in DC. You'll want posters like "Peterson's Backyard Birds of the Mid-Atlantic" and "Fishes of the Mid-Atlantic Coast & Chesapeake Bay" and so on. Google for combinations of "poster" and "mid-atlantic" and the subject of the poster.
posted by pracowity at 2:52 AM on April 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: We ended up getting "Backyard Birds of the Mid-Atlantic" to start with - thanks, pracowity!
posted by ryanshepard at 6:49 AM on May 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

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