Posts tagged Art

174 posts tagged Art

Gray fox and opossum - October Afternoon, Eastern Tennessee
A gray fox (ground)and a Virginia opossum (tree) are feeding upon ripe persimmons in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Both animals are omnivores—they eat plants and animals. 
Both species are nimble tree climbers as well, yet have different adaptations for the task. Gray foxes shinny up trunks by gripping with their forelimbs while pushing with their hind paws. Opossums climb with the help of an opposable toe on each hind foot, as well as a prehensile or “grasping” tail.
The gray fox and Virginia opossum may look similar, but they represent two fundamentally distinct groups of mammals.
Foxes are placentals, like humans and most mammals today. Mothers have long pregnancies, nourishing their fetuses through a placenta. Newborns are relatively large and robust, sometimes walking within hours.
Opossums are marsupials, a group that also includes kangaroos and koalas. Pregnancies are so short that newborns are barely more than embryos. The tiny babies crawl to a teat using strong forelimbs and nurse for many weeks to complete development. Like many marsupials, Virginia opossums protect their young with a pouch, or marsupium.
This diorama is located in the Bernard Family Hall of North American Mammals. 

Gray fox and opossum - October Afternoon, Eastern Tennessee

A gray fox (ground)and a Virginia opossum (tree) are feeding upon ripe persimmons in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Both animals are omnivores—they eat plants and animals. 

Both species are nimble tree climbers as well, yet have different adaptations for the task. Gray foxes shinny up trunks by gripping with their forelimbs while pushing with their hind paws. Opossums climb with the help of an opposable toe on each hind foot, as well as a prehensile or “grasping” tail.

The gray fox and Virginia opossum may look similar, but they represent two fundamentally distinct groups of mammals.

Foxes are placentals, like humans and most mammals today. Mothers have long pregnancies, nourishing their fetuses through a placenta. Newborns are relatively large and robust, sometimes walking within hours.

Opossums are marsupials, a group that also includes kangaroos and koalas. Pregnancies are so short that newborns are barely more than embryos. The tiny babies crawl to a teat using strong forelimbs and nurse for many weeks to complete development. Like many marsupials, Virginia opossums protect their young with a pouch, or marsupium.

This diorama is located in the Bernard Family Hall of North American Mammals

This month marks the publication of Opulent Oceans: Extraordinary Rare Book Selections from the American Museum of Natural History Library (Sterling Signature, 2014), the third in a series showcasing the spectacular holdings of the Rare Book Collection in the Museum Library.
Written by Curator Melanie L. J. Stiassny, the book includes essays about pioneering biologists who studied marine life, and showcases a variety of scientific illustrations that brought new discoveries to a growing audience of experts and laypeople alike.
We recently spoke with Dr. Stiassny, who is Axelrod Research Curator in the Department of Ichthyology, about her experiences researching the book.
Q: Are there any particular favorites among the scientists you feature?
A: One of my favorites is Johann David Schöpf (1752–1800) who was an iconic example of a polymath, adventurer, and humanitarian. He was a medical doctor, as so many of them were, fascinated by natural history, paleontology, weather patterns, botany, geology—everything. His travels through post-Revolutionary America were an amazing feat of courage and discovery.
Q: What surprised you in preparing the book?
A: I could not find a single volume in the Museum’s Rare Book Collection containing the work of a female marine naturalist. I did manage to find a few women doing great stuff but unacknowledged by the scientific community of their time. There was one botanist, William Henry Harvey (1811–1866), who went to great pains to single out and thank the women who had contributed to his work. He is a favorite too!
Q: What was your personal take-away?
A: Tremendous respect for the extraordinary courage and commitment of these early marine explorers. When I am in the Congo, we have satellite phones. We go to a cybercafe once a month. They were out there for years with no communications, suffering diseases, shipwrecks—and think what they did. They traveled, wrote, did so much, and then died at 30 or 40. Schöpf was 48! I’m in awe of what they accomplished. I also felt a camaraderie with their excitement in discovery and drive to understand the natural world. That mission and excitement is very much the same for curators today. The great majority were with big museums. Their names are on the specimen jars; our names are on the jars. There’s remarkable continuity, despite our advanced technology. They had the same driving force. The same camping out under the stars.
Read the full Q&A on the Museum blog, and pick up your own copy of Opulent Oceans!

This month marks the publication of Opulent Oceans: Extraordinary Rare Book Selections from the American Museum of Natural History Library (Sterling Signature, 2014), the third in a series showcasing the spectacular holdings of the Rare Book Collection in the Museum Library.

Written by Curator Melanie L. J. Stiassny, the book includes essays about pioneering biologists who studied marine life, and showcases a variety of scientific illustrations that brought new discoveries to a growing audience of experts and laypeople alike.

We recently spoke with Dr. Stiassny, who is Axelrod Research Curator in the Department of Ichthyology, about her experiences researching the book.

Q: Are there any particular favorites among the scientists you feature?

A: One of my favorites is Johann David Schöpf (1752–1800) who was an iconic example of a polymath, adventurer, and humanitarian. He was a medical doctor, as so many of them were, fascinated by natural history, paleontology, weather patterns, botany, geology—everything. His travels through post-Revolutionary America were an amazing feat of courage and discovery.

Q: What surprised you in preparing the book?

A: I could not find a single volume in the Museum’s Rare Book Collection containing the work of a female marine naturalist. I did manage to find a few women doing great stuff but unacknowledged by the scientific community of their time. There was one botanist, William Henry Harvey (1811–1866), who went to great pains to single out and thank the women who had contributed to his work. He is a favorite too!

Q: What was your personal take-away?

A: Tremendous respect for the extraordinary courage and commitment of these early marine explorers. When I am in the Congo, we have satellite phones. We go to a cybercafe once a month. They were out there for years with no communications, suffering diseases, shipwrecks—and think what they did. They traveled, wrote, did so much, and then died at 30 or 40. Schöpf was 48! I’m in awe of what they accomplished. I also felt a camaraderie with their excitement in discovery and drive to understand the natural world. That mission and excitement is very much the same for curators today. The great majority were with big museums. Their names are on the specimen jars; our names are on the jars. There’s remarkable continuity, despite our advanced technology. They had the same driving force. The same camping out under the stars.

Read the full Q&A on the Museum blog, and pick up your own copy of Opulent Oceans!

Autumn is in full swing, and the Northeast US is a riot of colors. What causes this seasonal change? We’ve got the answers to all of your fall foliage questions here:
WHERE DO LEAF COLORS COME FROM?
Leaves are green in the summer because they contain a great deal of the pigment chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is necessary for the process of photosynthesis, which plants use to make food.
Chlorophyll is not the only pigment in leaves, but during the summer there’s so much of it that no other colors can be seen. Leaves also contain carotenoids—yellow, orange and brown pigments that give color to such foods as carrots and bananas. In the fall, some leaves produce red pigments called anthocyanins, which are also found in fruits like cranberries and blueberries. 
WHAT TRIGGERS A LEAF TO CHANGE COLOR?
As autumn approaches, days become shorter and nights grow longer. Trees respond to the decrease in sunlight by slowing down production of the green pigment chlorophyll. As the amount of chlorophyll drops, yellow, orange and brown pigments (carotenoids) become visible. In some trees, dwindling light levels cause other changes inside the leaf. For instance, the concentration of sugars often goes up, which causes the formation of red pigments (anthocyanins).
DOES WEATHER AFFECT AUTUMN COLORS?
Only a little bit. Although some people assume that leaves change color in response to cooler weather, it’s really the shorter days of fall that signal to trees that it’s time to prepare for winter. But weather does affect the intensity of leaf color. Seasonably warm and sunny fall days combined with cool (but not freezing) nights seem to produce the most stunning autumn colors. In addition, fall colors can be delayed by a severe summer drought.
DO LEAVES ON ALL TREES CHANGE COLOR?
No. Trees like pines, spruces and firs are “evergreens”—their leaves are always green. These trees generally have tough needle-shaped leaves that can withstand cold weather. In fact, individual leaves on evergreens can stay on the tree for several years.
ARE CERTAIN COLORS ASSOCIATED WITH A PARTICULAR KIND OF TREE?
Yes. The chart below lists some common trees and their typical fall leaf colors.
 ASPEN:                Golds
BEECH:               Yellows and Tans
DOGWOOD:        Deep Reds
ELM:                    Browns
HICKORY:            Golds
OAK:                   Reds and Browns
RED MAPLE:        Bright Reds
SOURWOOD:       Deep Reds
SUGAR MAPLE:    Orangish Reds
Can’t get enough fall foliage? Check out our Pinterest board Autumn at the Museum. 

Autumn is in full swing, and the Northeast US is a riot of colors. What causes this seasonal change? We’ve got the answers to all of your fall foliage questions here:

WHERE DO LEAF COLORS COME FROM?

Leaves are green in the summer because they contain a great deal of the pigment chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is necessary for the process of photosynthesis, which plants use to make food.

Chlorophyll is not the only pigment in leaves, but during the summer there’s so much of it that no other colors can be seen. Leaves also contain carotenoids—yellow, orange and brown pigments that give color to such foods as carrots and bananas. In the fall, some leaves produce red pigments called anthocyanins, which are also found in fruits like cranberries and blueberries. 

WHAT TRIGGERS A LEAF TO CHANGE COLOR?

As autumn approaches, days become shorter and nights grow longer. Trees respond to the decrease in sunlight by slowing down production of the green pigment chlorophyll. As the amount of chlorophyll drops, yellow, orange and brown pigments (carotenoids) become visible. In some trees, dwindling light levels cause other changes inside the leaf. For instance, the concentration of sugars often goes up, which causes the formation of red pigments (anthocyanins).

DOES WEATHER AFFECT AUTUMN COLORS?

Only a little bit. Although some people assume that leaves change color in response to cooler weather, it’s really the shorter days of fall that signal to trees that it’s time to prepare for winter. But weather does affect the intensity of leaf color. Seasonably warm and sunny fall days combined with cool (but not freezing) nights seem to produce the most stunning autumn colors. In addition, fall colors can be delayed by a severe summer drought.

DO LEAVES ON ALL TREES CHANGE COLOR?

No. Trees like pines, spruces and firs are “evergreens”—their leaves are always green. These trees generally have tough needle-shaped leaves that can withstand cold weather. In fact, individual leaves on evergreens can stay on the tree for several years.

ARE CERTAIN COLORS ASSOCIATED WITH A PARTICULAR KIND OF TREE?

Yes. The chart below lists some common trees and their typical fall leaf colors.

 ASPEN:                Golds

BEECH:               Yellows and Tans

DOGWOOD:        Deep Reds

ELM:                    Browns

HICKORY:            Golds

OAK:                   Reds and Browns

RED MAPLE:        Bright Reds

SOURWOOD:       Deep Reds

SUGAR MAPLE:    Orangish Reds

Can’t get enough fall foliage? Check out our Pinterest board Autumn at the Museum

Join the Museum and co-presenter HBO Documentary Films on the opening night of the Margaret Mead Film Festival for The Last Patrol, followed by a Q&A with director Sebastian Junger and cultural anthropologist Alisse Waterston. 

Whether fighting or documenting the realities on the ground as a journalist, how does the context of war transform a person’s identity? What happens to that identity when soldiers return home? Sebastian Junger, war journalist and author of The Perfect Storm, explores these questions on a soul-searching journey with three comrades-in-arms.

Learn more about this film and get tickets for opening night

Beans at the CIAT gene bank in Colombia, which has just sent its latest consignments of seeds for conservation at the Global Seed Vault in Svalbard, Norway. 
Wikimedia/Neil Palmer (CIAT)
ZoomInfo
Cary Fowler in front of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault being built on Spitsbergen, showing the kind of containers used for the seeds.
Wikimedia/Bair175
ZoomInfo

Many documentaries at this year’s Maragret Mead Film Festival feature stories of climate change from around the world. One of these is The Seeds of Time, which details the mission of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault.

Set deep inside a mountain on the island of Svalbard, Norway, this vault has achieved a kind of celebrity status both for its sleek, spy-novel-worthy, modernist design—and for the contents frozen within. Stored in this remote location high in the Arctic Circle are the seeds of numerous varieties of the world’s food plants and related wild species. 

Watch the trailer for this film, screening October 26 at the Museum, and read more about this documentary and others that grapple with the issues of climate change

Wapiti (Elk) - Early October at sunset by the White River, Colorado
This handsome deer is known by many names. “Wapiti” is one. Wapi means “white” in some native Algonquian languages,  which may refer to the deer’s large white rump patch. It is also known as an elk in North America. 
As the October sun sets in this Rocky Mountain valley, a few wapiti nibble on chokecherry and quaking aspen. The male in the foreground is bugling—a call during the fall mating season that sounds like a screeching trumpet. A bull’s bugle can carry a half-mile or more to attract females to his harem. 
This diorama is located in the Bernard Family Hall of North American Mammals. 

Wapiti (Elk)Early October at sunset by the White River, Colorado

This handsome deer is known by many names. “Wapiti” is one. Wapi means “white” in some native Algonquian languages,  which may refer to the deer’s large white rump patch. It is also known as an elk in North America. 

As the October sun sets in this Rocky Mountain valley, a few wapiti nibble on chokecherry and quaking aspen. The male in the foreground is bugling—a call during the fall mating season that sounds like a screeching trumpet. A bull’s bugle can carry a half-mile or more to attract females to his harem. 

This diorama is located in the Bernard Family Hall of North American Mammals

   Osborn Caribou - September, Level Mountain, British Columbia, Canada
Caribou, also known as reindeer, flourish in some of the world’s harshest places. Their principal home is tundra—land that is too cold for trees to grow. Massive herds of caribou migrate across the vast tundra plains of the Arctic. Smaller herds dwell in alpine tundra, which is found on top of high mountains.
In September, the mating season for caribou, called the rut, has begun. Herd members  are gathering in the open so they can find and compete for mates. At any other time of year, these two females and the juvenile (left) would probably avoid males (right). 

Two caribou here have not yet shed their antlers’ velvet. This fuzzy, blood-rich sheath of skin nourishes growth of the bone beneath. Caribou drop their antlers after the rut, but if these two females become pregnant, they will probably keep their antlers all winter. Antlered mothers can better defend themselves when competing for winter food—an advantage for their developing young. 
Caribou are the only species of deer in which both sexes have antlers. This characteristic may have evolved because caribou live in open areas with few places to hide. Antlers offer good defense against predators and aggressive herd-mates.
See this diorama in the Bernard Family Hall of North American Mammals. 
 

Osborn CaribouSeptember, Level MountainBritish Columbia, Canada

Caribou, also known as reindeer, flourish in some of the world’s harshest places. Their principal home is tundra—land that is too cold for trees to grow. Massive herds of caribou migrate across the vast tundra plains of the Arctic. Smaller herds dwell in alpine tundra, which is found on top of high mountains.

In September, the mating season for caribou, called the rut, has begun. Herd members  are gathering in the open so they can find and compete for mates. At any other time of year, these two females and the juvenile (left) would probably avoid males (right). 

Two caribou here have not yet shed their antlers’ velvet. This fuzzy, blood-rich sheath of skin nourishes growth of the bone beneath. Caribou drop their antlers after the rut, but if these two females become pregnant, they will probably keep their antlers all winter. Antlered mothers can better defend themselves when competing for winter food—an advantage for their developing young. 

Caribou are the only species of deer in which both sexes have antlers. This characteristic may have evolved because caribou live in open areas with few places to hide. Antlers offer good defense against predators and aggressive herd-mates.

See this diorama in the Bernard Family Hall of North American Mammals. 

 

This weather calls for a rainy #tbt! “Hauling canoe in rain, The Everglades, Florida" was was taken by Julian A. Dimock in 1910. 
Dimock, who donated over 3,400 photographic negatives to the Museum in 1920, traveled the Southern states over many years during Museum funded trips. Carrying heavy and cumbersome photographic equipment over challenging terrain, Dimock trained his lens on the people and landscape of the South. 
See more of the beautiful Julian Dimock Collection in our Digital Special Collections. 
AMNH/48131

This weather calls for a rainy #tbt! “Hauling canoe in rain, The Everglades, Florida" was was taken by Julian A. Dimock in 1910. 

Dimock, who donated over 3,400 photographic negatives to the Museum in 1920, traveled the Southern states over many years during Museum funded trips. Carrying heavy and cumbersome photographic equipment over challenging terrain, Dimock trained his lens on the people and landscape of the South. 

See more of the beautiful Julian Dimock Collection in our Digital Special Collections

AMNH/48131

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