A beautiful spring day at the American Museum of Natural History!
An exceptionally well-preserved skull of a newly discovered 325-million-year-old shark-like species suggests that early cartilaginous and bony fishes have more to tell us about the early evolution of jawed vertebrates—including humans—than do modern sharks, as was previously thought.
The new study is based on shark fossil collected in Arkansas, where an ocean basin once was home to a diverse marine ecosystem. The fossilized skull of the new species Ozarcus mapesae was imaged with high-resolution x-rays at the European Synchrotron, letting the scientists “digitally dissect out the cartilage skeleton.”
Learn more about this new study.
From the Archives: Time exposure showing six stages at beginning of lunar eclipse, 1960.
Did you see the lunar eclipse last night? Check out the Museum’s online database of digital images for more pictures of eclipses dating as far back as 1908, and read the Sky Reporter blog to learn more about this phenomena.
As Slate pointed out, the internet loves crappytaxidermy. While we may not have much to contribute to that illustrious canon, we do know taxidermy. Our video "Modeling Animals in Habitat Dioramas" about how artists create the animal sculptures for the Museum’s famous habitat dioramas, shows what it takes to create a meticulously accurate specimen.
Watch the video.
Museum researcher Mary Blair is blogging from Vietnam, where she’s surveying for endangered primates called slow lorises—at night.
Read her latest post to find out what she takes into the field—and how she’s training others to spot a loris in the dark.
The exhibition The Power of Poison delves into poison’s role in myth and legend as well as human history and health. Striped stones that resembled human eyes, known as agates, were once thought to provide special protection against poisons. The stones would be ground up and drunk in wine to cure poisoning or applied to the skin to cure snake, spider, or scorpion bites.
Learn more about The Power of Poison.
The Museum’s The Power of Poison: Be a Detective iPad app has been nominated for a 2014 Webby People’s Voice Award. Download the free app and cast your vote here.
If the sky is clear during early morning hours of Tuesday April 15, viewers in the Eastern time zone will see a full lunar eclipse beginning at 3:07 am and ending at 4:25 am. By coincidence, that night, Mars will be the brightest it’s been since 2007 and won’t be again until 2016.
Learn more from the SKY REPORTER.
Frontiers Lecture: Unraveling the Mystery of Continental Crust Formation -
For years, Oliver Jagoutz, assistant professor of geology at MIT, and Max Schmidt, professor of geology at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, have searched the Himalayan Mountains for clues about the formation of the Earth’s continental crust. Their work has led to discoveries that put the material of the Earth’s molten mantle on par with that of meteorites. In this podcast, Jagoutz and Schmidt discuss the implications of this discovery, and other aspects of the Earth’s formation, for understanding our planet’s evolution.
Listen to the full lecture.
Living harvestmen—a group of arachnids more commonly known as daddy longlegs—have a single pair of eyes that help them navigate habitats in every continent except Antarctica. But a newly described 305-million-year-old fossil found in eastern France shows that wasn’t always the case. New research published today indicates that primitive harvestmen had two pairs of eyes.
Learn more about this discovery.