The long weekend is here and we’re jumping for joy!
If it gets too hot on the New York City streets, come cool off in the Museum, where there is always so much to see. Find out what is going from August 29—September 1.
Stories from the past week:
Have a wonderful weekend!
Celebrate #FossilFriday with Pachycephalosaurus wyomingensis!
Pachycephalosaurus, meaning “thick-headed reptile,” lived 66 million years ago during the Late Cretaceous Period and was the largest bone-headed dinosaur ever found, with 10 inches of bone crowning its rather small brain. This specimen was found in 1940 in Carter County, Montana.
This fossil is located in the Museum’s Hall of Ornithischian Dinosaurs.
Today’s peek into the archives shows us the Hall of Ocean Life, before the iconic blue whale was added.
Photographed by Julius Kirschner, “Hall of Ocean Life, looking west from entrance, Coral Reef Group in center, 1933" predates the construction of the whale by about thirty years.
Learn more about the process of building the 94-foot, 21,000-pound model on the Museum blog.
Hey New Yorkers! The Frontiers Lecture Series kicks off September 8 with Caleb Scharf and the Copernicus Complex.
Though the concept of “the universe” suggests the containment of everything, the latest ideas in cosmology hint that our universe may be just one of a multitude of others—a single slice of an infinity of parallel realities. Renowned astrophysicist and author Caleb Scharf takes us on a cosmic adventure like no other, from tiny microbes within the Earth to distant exoplanets and beyond, asserting that the age-old Copernican principle is in need of updating.
As Scharf argues, when Copernicus proposed that the Earth was not the fixed point at the center of the known universe (and therefore we are not unique), he set in motion a colossal scientific juggernaut, forever changing our vision of nature. But the principle has never been entirely true—we do live at a particular time, in a particular location, under particular circumstances. To solve this conundrum we must put aside our Copernican worldview and embrace the possibility that we are in a delicate balance between mediocrity and significance, order and chaos.
Scharf will sign copies of The Copernicus Complex: Our Cosmic Significance in a Universe of Planets and Probabilities after the lecture.
Get tickets today.
Spiders are important predators. By one estimate, the spiders on one acre of woodland alone consume more than 80 pounds (36 kg) of insects a year. (Those insect populations would explode without the predators.)
Spiders employ an amazing array of techniques to capture prey.
They play tricks:
Some pirate spiders of the family Mimetidae fool their prey: other spiders. They vibrate the spiders’ webs the same way a struggling insect might. Then, when the host spiders come close, the pirates grab them.
Spiders of the genus Scytodes catch prey by ejecting a glue from their chelicerae (spider mouthparts that end in fangs and inject venom into prey). Once it hits, the gooey substance shrinks, trapping the prey in place.
They use a home field advantage:
Lynx spiders of the family Oxyopidae hunt on plants. They are agile, jumping from stem to stem, and have better vision than many other spiders.
Learn more spider hunting techniques on our blog.
#MuseumMonday is dazzling!
At 563 carats, the Star of India is the world’s largest gem-quality blue star sapphire. Some 2 billion years old, it is also one of the most well-known objects in the world.
Rutile, a mineral in the Star of India, gives the gem its milky quality and star effect. Tiny fibers of rutile in a three-fold pattern reflect incoming light in the star pattern. This effect, called asterism, makes this gem a true star.
The Star of India is located in the Morgan Memorial Hall of Gems.
In partnership with Khan Academy, the American Natural History Museum is excited to present two online educational series.
Khan Academy provides a free world-class education for anyone anywhere. After working together for several months, we have developed engaging learning experiences around topics that everyone can get excited about: Dinosaurs and The Universe!
Get started learning.
The material of stars is recycled over billions of years. Interstellar gas clouds collapse to make stars. Stars forge heavy elements and return their gas to space. This material enriches gas clouds from which new stars are formed, and the cycle continues. Each generation of stars is made in part from the ashes of previous generations.
Click to enlarge this diagram, and learn more about stars on our website.
Headed to the beach this weekend? You might spot a Tiger Cowrie!
See archival images of the Museum’s Shell Hall in the Digital Special Collections.