Pictured is the view from inside the Museum’s Rose Center for Earth and Space, at sunset.
On July 20, 1969, with 600 million people watching on TV, an American crew landed on the Moon—the first people ever to walk on another world. The Apollo 11 mission had three crew members: Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, who piloted the craft that would return them to Earth, while the others became the first two men ever to walk its surface.
Venomous animals have evolved a variety of mechanisms that deliver toxins to would-be predators and prey. In this video, Museum Curator Mark Siddall discusses some of the anatomical features you’ll want to avoid!
The exhibition The Power of Poison closes August 10, plan your visit now!
Astronomers have long pondered the origins of enormous elliptical galaxies in the young Universe. An object 11 billion light-years away spotted by the Herschel mission may help unravel the mystery.
Two massive spiral galaxies merged to create a giant elliptical galaxy, which were previously believed to form through the absorption of dwarf galaxies over time.
This image from Giuseppe Poli’s Testacea utriusque Siciliae…(1791-1827) depicts the internal and external structures of a Mediterranean scallop (Pecten jacobaeus), with a degree of detail that had not previously been seen in a published work.
This illustration is on view now at the Museum in the exhibition, Natural Histories: 400 Years of Scientific Illustration from the Museum’s Library.
Huge asteroids and comets don’t collide with our planet very often, so scientists can’t easily observe the effects of a major impact.
But 20 years ago this month, in July of 1994, researchers got a glimpse of what can happen when a sizeable comet crashes into a planet—in this case, Jupiter. The fiery results offered clues to how devastating the ancient impact on Earth might have been.
The comet named Shoemaker-Levy 9, already shattered into many pieces, slammed into Jupiter in a series of impacts. Many of the fragments were between one and three kilometers (0.6 and 1.9 miles) across in size. The multiple impacts sent fireballs high above Jupiter’s atmosphere and left dark scars so large our own planet would have fit inside.
Learn more about planetary impacts in the Cullman Hall of the Universe.
Spending the weekend in the great outdoors? Here are some tips for identifying poison ivy:
POISON IVY (Toxicodendron radicans)
- Compound leaves with three leaflets (leading to the saying “leaves of three, let it be”)
- The stalk of the middle leaflet is much longer than the stalks of the two side leaflets
- The edges can be smooth or coarsely toothed
- Surface can be glossy or dull
- Climbing or straggling vine (poison ivy)
- Sprawling shrub (western poison ivy)
Anyone that thinks they might have touched poison ivy should wash thoroughly with soap and water. Any clothes that have been in direct contact with poison ivy should be carefully removed and laundered. The unpleasant itching of poison ivy can be relieved by applying calamine lotion or a paste made of baking soda.
#FossilFriday returns with mene rhombeus, also known as a “moonfish.” This beautiful, deep-bodied fossil may be related to modern carangids, which first appeared in the Eocene, along with many other reef fishes that have survived to the present. Collected in Italy, this mene rhombeus fish lived 40 million years ago.
You can find this and a whole collection of beautiful fossil fishes in the Museum’s Hall of Vertebrate Origins.
Here are our favorite posts from the past week:
- Don’t worry if you missed the Museum’s #WhaleWash, we posted the footage!
- A study led by indigenous people uncovered a grizzly bear ‘highway.’
- A diagram that shows our cosmic address at a glance.
- Often mistaken for a dinosaur, Dimetrodon was one of the earliest relatives of mammals.
- How trapdoor spiders got their name.
- A peek into the archives shows the arrival of the Willamette Meteorite to the Museum in 1906!
American badger - July Morning, Jackson Hole, Wyoming
After a fruitless night of hunting, a badger has discovered a fresh target: the burrow entrance of a Wyoming ground squirrel. Badgers will dig furiously to excavate underground prey and their own dens. They can quickly tunnel themselves out of sight using powerful forelimbs and long claws. When attacked themselves—cougars and eagles will try —badgers fight back with ferocity.
This beautiful diorama is located in the Bernard Family Hall of North American Mammals.
Check out our new podcast: The Universe and Beyond with Alexander Vilenkin
Recent developments in cosmology suggest that the Big Bang was not a unique event in the cosmic history, and that other Big Bangs constantly erupt in remote parts of the universe, producing new worlds with a great variety of physical properties. Cosmologist Alexander Vilenkin discusses the origin of this new worldview, how we can test its possibility, and its implications for the beginning and the end of the universe.
Observing this spider is a bit like looking back in time. Members of the family Liphistiidae—the group to which this animal belongs—retain details of anatomy that appear in fossils 300 million years old. Getting a look at this living fossil can be a challenge, though. Trapdoor spiders spend most of their time in underground burrows, emerging mainly to grab prey. They grow very slowly; mature male specimens are hard for even experts to find.
Species Range: Eastern Thailand, along the border with Laos and Cambodia
Habitat: Terrestrial; often burrows in the forest floor or on the banks of streams
Should you worry? No. Though it does have venom glands, its rarity and underground lifestyle mean you’re unlikely to meet it—or its venom.
See this species in person in the exhibition Spiders Alive! open now.
Weighing 15.5 tons, this iron meteorite is the largest ever found in the United States and the sixth-largest in the world. The smooth surface melted during its blazing entry into the atmosphere, while the pits formed on the Earth’s surface.
The Willamette Meteorite was originally located within the Upper Willamette Valley of Oregon. It was revered as a spiritual being that has healed and empowered the people of the valley by the Clackamas Indians who occupied the region.
Happy birthday to Roald Amundsen, leader of the first expedition to reach the South Pole.
Born to a family of Norwegian shipowners on July 16, 1872, Amundsen knew by the age of 15 that he would one day be an explorer.
In one of the most stirring tales in the annals of Antarctic exploration, the contest to reach the South Pole was between two leaders—Roald Amundsen on the Norwegian side and Robert Falcon Scott on the British—and the challenges they faced as they undertook their separate 1,800-mile journeys from the edge of the Ross Ice Shelf to the South Pole and back.
Amundsen was a meticulous planner; he realized that success was sure only if he correctly estimated the risks he would face, leaving little to chance. On the afternoon of December 14, 1911, Roald Amundsen and his team reached the geographical South Pole, had had won the race.
Learn more about Amundsen and Scott’s expeditions in the exhibition Race to the End of the Earth, currently traveling.
A novel, First Nations-led research collaboration has revealed a previously undocumented grizzly bear aggregation in coastal British Columbia, one of the most southerly aggregations of salmon-feeding grizzlies in North America. Using non-invasive DNA analysis, the authors describe a grizzly bear “highway,” identifying nearly 60 individual bears, many who travelled hundreds of miles from surrounding areas to feed on autumn-spawning salmon in the Koeye River.
During the survey, grizzly bear hair was collected as the animals walked by scented wire snares set up in the area during salmon-spawning season. As part of the non-invasive aspect of the work, the “baits” did not provide rewards to the bears visiting the snares.
At the same time, the team calculated the accessibility of salmon to bears with an index based on the number of salmon that return to the Koeye each year; water flow; and water visibility. Over the three-year survey, they found a decreasing population of bears in the Koeye, likely tied to declining salmon accessibility.