This week, the American Museum of Natural History launched #InsideAMNH a collaboration featuring some of Instagram’s most popular photographers. The participants, djkrugman jnsilva, @jmsuarez_, kmustafa, and samthecobra, were given access to the Museum’s iconic halls after-hours and a tour behind the scenes—sights rarely seen by most Museum visitors.
Calling all teachers! Seminars on Science offers online graduate courses for educators, and fall courses start on September 22nd. This session includes courses on evolution, climate change, the Earth, and more. To register, visit amnh.org/learn, and use code AMNHSOS to save $50!
One hundred years ago today, on September 1, 1914, Martha, the last-known living Passenger Pigeon died at the Cincinnati Zoo. Her death, at 29 after a lifetime in captivity, marked the disappearance of her once-abundant species from the world.
Difficult as it is to comprehend, there was a time when the Passenger Pigeon (Ectopistes migratorius) was the most common bird in the United States, numbering in the billions. But victim to overhunting and habitat destruction, Passenger Pigeon populations began to decline in the second half of the 19th century and the species was considered extinct in the wild by the turn of the century.
Cougar - Summer, Grand Canyon, Arizona
Arizona’s Grand Canyon National Park offers ideal habitat for cougars: shade to escape the heat, rugged terrain in which to ambush prey and nooks to eat carcasses in private. Typically solitary, males and females travel together only during the few days out of the year when they are mating.
Cougars are sometimes called mountain lions, although they are not closely related to lions in Africa. They are also called pumas, Florida panthers, catamounts and painters.
How did the moon form? The leading theory is that the Moon resulted from a glancing collision between the young Earth and an object the size of Mars. The above image series is based on several mathematical simulations of the Moon’s origin:
The Moon’s history begins with a collision between a young Earth (larger object) and a Mars-sized planet.
10 minutes: The now-molten mantle layers (gray) of the two planets are mixing together.
1 hour: The iron cores (orange) are melding together – Most of this iron will remain with Earth.
2 hours: Parts of the mantle are spinning off into a swarm of debris.
22 hours: Pieces of debris revolve around Earth, slowly gathering together.
1 week: The growing Moon’s gravity pulls in the remaining debris.
More shells for your summer Saturday! These Atlantic Moon Snails are carnivorous and have a great sense of smell.
Mollusks are generally characterized as having a soft body, and their exoskeletons, commonly known as shells, have evolved into countless forms, sizes, shapes, and colors—many of which wash up on shores around the globe.
If you head to the beach this Labor Day weekend look for these Angel Wing Clams, and learn about many more!
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:
- 5 cool ways spiders hunt their prey.
- Two paleontologists are blogging from a fossil-finding trip in Inner Mongolia. Read about a day in the life in the field, and about Inner Mongolia now versus the 1920’s.
- A new Expedition Report Podcast: Susan Perkins on her work in Saba.
- This image shows how stars are recycled.
- The Keeling Curve tells the story of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere.
- We celebrated National Dog Day.
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.
Camille Grohé, a postdoctoral fellow in the Division of Paleontology at the American Museum of Natural History, is blogging from the field during an expedition to Inner Mongolia.
In her first Fieldwork Journal, Grohé compares the 21st century fossil-finding expedition to the famous Central Asiatic Expeditions, led by Museum paleontologist Roy Chapman Andrews in the 1920’s, which yielded amazing discoveries such as dinosaur nests, and gigantic fossil mammals such as Andrewsarchus mongoliensis.
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.
As the leading greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide is one of the atmosphere’s most closely watched ingredients. The scrutiny began in 1958, when a young geochemist named Charles Keeling began regularly measuring CO2 atop a massive Hawaiian volcano—and discovered some intriguing patterns.
In this episode, Associate Curator Susan Perkins describes her long-term study of malarial parasites and their host lizards, work that draws her back again and again to Saba Island—a relatively unspoiled paradise in the Caribbean.
Dr. Perkins is a microbiologist who studies malarial parasites, symbiotic bacteria, and even RNA viruses. Her research includes multiple ways of approaching questions about these microbes, from their evolutionary histories to their genomics.
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.
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.