Posts tagged Science

831 posts tagged Science

Corythosaurus
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Skeleton of Corythosaurus, duck-bill dinosaurs exhibit, Cretaceous Hall, 1956
AMNH/324088
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Corythosaurus is a member of the group of duck-billed dinosaurs called hadrosaurs, which walked and ran on their two hind legs. The species’ strange skull is capped by a crescent-shaped helmet that contains extended tubes, which formed elaborate nasal passages.

Collected in 1912 in Alberta, Canada, this Corythosaurus is among the finest dinosaur specimens ever found. The preservation of fossilized skin impressions and a meshwork of calcified tendons that stiffened the tall vertebrae make it a rare find.

This specimen is located in the Hall of Ornithischian Dinosaurs.

Browsing the collection at the National Museum and Art Gallery, we saw these specimens of Rufous-bellied Kookaburra.
© AMNH/P. Sweet
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Expedition Report: Birding and Batteries in Port Moresby

This fall, a team of vertebrate specialists from the Museum—Brett Benz, Chris RaxworthyPaul Sweet, and Neil Duncan—is heading out to one of the most remote areas in the world in search of new species and specimens on the Explore21 Papua New Guinea expedition. Paul Sweet will be sending dispatches from the field as long as his laptop—and a signal—persist.

In this post, Paul writes about spotting “lifers”:

One of the most conspicuous and vocal birds in the gardens is the Willie Wagtail. One is singing even now in the dark. In all I saw around 20 species before breakfast, including many “lifers.” [Ed. New additions to a birder’s “life list” of observed species.]

Purchasing provisions: 

Our major purchase was batteries, lots of batteries: 144 D, 288 AA and 144 AAA. These are too heavy to bring in our luggage but essential for running headlamps, lanterns, and GPS units during six weeks off the grid.

And the conditions in the highlands: 

Cloud cover will likely obscure the mountains, which will give us an idea of the working conditions below. Only Chris seems excited about this because frogs are most active in the wet—it will not make bird and mammal work easy.

Read the full post on the Museum blog

   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. 

 

Frontiers Lecture: The Copernicus Complex with Caleb Scharf

The concept of “the universe” suggests all that is, but 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. In this lecture, astrophysicist Caleb Scharf, author of The Copernicus Complex, agrees that we do need to update our thinking, and takes us on a cosmic adventure like no other, from tiny microbes within the Earth to distant exoplanets and beyond.

This lecture took place in the Hayden Planetarium on September 8, 2014.

In honor of the Museum’s special exhibition of Lonesome George, the famed Galapagos tortoise that was the last of his species, the Museum last week hosted an in-depth conversation about biodiversity with scientists and conservation experts. 

Moderated by Dr. Eleanor Sterling, chief conservation scientist of the Museum’s Center for Biodiversity and Conservation, the panel featured Johannah Barry and Linda Cayot of the Galapagos Conservancy, James Gibbs of the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, and Arturo Izurieta, director of the Galapagos National Park.

See Lonesome George in the American Museum of Natural History now through January 4, 2015

It’s a fishy #FossilFriday!
Vinctifer comptoni lived around 110 million years ago in the Romualdo Formation, in what is now Brazil. Although most of its close relatives are sharp-toothed predators, Vinctifer comptoni was a filter feeder. One clue it was not a hunter is the lack of teeth, and instead had enlarged gill rakers. These long, comblike bones were apparently used to filter small animals from the water, which were then swallowed.
Want to feel this fish? It is on display in the current exhibition Pterosaurs: Flight in the Age of Dinosaurs, and the public is invited to touch it! 

It’s a fishy #FossilFriday!

Vinctifer comptoni lived around 110 million years ago in the Romualdo Formation, in what is now Brazil. Although most of its close relatives are sharp-toothed predators, Vinctifer comptoni was a filter feeder. One clue it was not a hunter is the lack of teeth, and instead had enlarged gill rakers. These long, comblike bones were apparently used to filter small animals from the water, which were then swallowed.

Want to feel this fish? It is on display in the current exhibition Pterosaurs: Flight in the Age of Dinosaurs, and the public is invited to touch it! 

Our Earth’s Future, An Online Course on the Science of Climate Change

The American Museum of Natural History is proud to offer a free, online course about the science of climate change—and how to talk about it. Running from October 20—December 14, participants will hear from scientists in the fields of climatology, oceanography, Earth science, and anthropology.

Study how climate change is affecting people and their ways of life, and become fluent in the science of climate change. Explore the multiple lines of evidence that human-induced climate change is happening today and consider what that means for the future of our planet. By the end of this course, through understanding key scientific principles, you will be able to confront misconceptions and contribute confidently to conversations about climate change.

Learn more about this class and apply now

Oh boy, the weekend is here! Head to the Museum and explore your world, from the deep sea to outer space. 
Here are some highlights from the past week:
We welcomed autumn to the Northern Hemisphere at 10:29 pm, 9/22.
Four Museum scientists departed on an expedition to Papua New Guinea.
New research focuses on a "hidden gem" in Einstein’s 1916 theory of general relativity.
The New York Times profiled Museum Ornithologist Rocky Rockwell and his insights into the changing diet of polar bears.
Enjoy a video and podcast from the Museum’s recent expedition to Madagascar in search of snakes.
Have a great weekend!
GIF from 1920’s Museum archival footage.

Oh boy, the weekend is here! Head to the Museum and explore your world, from the deep sea to outer space. 

Here are some highlights from the past week:

Have a great weekend!

GIF from 1920’s Museum archival footage.

Papua New Guinea flyover.
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Brett Benz, curatorial associate, Ornithology; Chris Raxworthy, curator of Herpetology; Paul Sweet, collections manager, Ornithology, Neil Duncan, collections manager, Mammalogy.
© AMNH/D. Finnin
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This week, a team of vertebrate specialists from the Museum—Brett Benz, Chris RaxworthyPaul Sweet, and Neil Duncan—are heading out to one of the most remote areas in the world in search of new species and specimens on the Explore21 Papua New Guinea expedition.

They are following in the footsteps of biologist Ernst Mayr, who made the first trip to New Guinea on behalf of the Museum in 1927. The Pacific island, which today consists of Indonesian provinces in the west and the country of Papua New Guinea in the east, has a disproportionately rich flora and fauna: about 7 percent of the world’s species live in an area that is only approximately 0.5 percent of the Earth’s land mass.

Assuming his laptop survives the rain and humidity, team member Paul Sweet will be blogging intrepidly from the field—and finding his way from underneath dense canopy cover to send back posts over a satellite phone. Sweet answered a few questions on the eve of the team’s departure. 

Why Papua New Guinea? What do you hope to find?

We’re undertaking intensive biodiversity surveys in one of the most remote and least studied regions of the globe: the Strickland-Lagaip Divide in Papua New Guinea. We will be collecting birds, mammals, herps [reptiles and amphibians], as well as their parasites and viruses. We’re anticipating discovering new species of reptiles and amphibians, parasites, and viruses. Current estimates are that less than half of the amphibian species in Papua New Guinea have been discovered.

What are some of the more unusual animals you expect to see on this trip?

Perhaps the strangest mammal we may encounter is the long-beaked echidna, a spiny monotreme— a mammal that lays eggs. We may also see some of the many diverse marsupials such as tree kangaroos, bandicoots, quolls, and dunnarts. The fruit bats known as flying foxes that occur in New Guinea are some of the world’s largest.

Read the complete interview on the Museum blog

This week, the New York Times profiled the work of Museum Ornithologist Robert Rockwell. Monitoring the rapidly rising geese population on the west shore of Hudson Bay has been Dr. Rockwell’s job since 1969, but in recent years polar bears have become a factor. 
A warming planet means less ice coverage of the Arctic Sea, leaving polar bears with less time and less ice for hunting seals. They depend on seals for their survival. But the polar bears here have discovered a new menu option. They eat snow geese.
Watch the video and learn more about this fascinating research. 

This week, the New York Times profiled the work of Museum Ornithologist Robert Rockwell. Monitoring the rapidly rising geese population on the west shore of Hudson Bay has been Dr. Rockwell’s job since 1969, but in recent years polar bears have become a factor. 

A warming planet means less ice coverage of the Arctic Sea, leaving polar bears with less time and less ice for hunting seals. They depend on seals for their survival. But the polar bears here have discovered a new menu option. They eat snow geese.

Watch the video and learn more about this fascinating research

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Tupandactylus imperator

Fast Facts

When: It lived around 115 million years ago

Where: Near a freshwater lake in what is now Brazil

Wingspan: About 10 feet (3 m) 

Food: Fish

No other pterosaur had a bigger crest in relation to its body size than Tupandactylus imperator. Its spectacular crest swept from a bone on the front of its snout all the way over its head, and attached to a long rod jutting out from the back of its skull, like a sail. The extremely rare fossil specimen shows signs of the soft tissue between the bones of the crest—probably a substance similar to bird beaks.

See Tupandactylus and much more in Pterosaurs: Flight in the Age of Dinosaurs

New Research: Hints of Gravitational Waves in the Stars
Scientists have shown how gravitational waves—invisible ripples in the fabric of space and time that propagate through the universe—might be “seen” by looking at the stars. The new model, developed in part by researchers at the Museum, proposes that a star that oscillates at the same frequency as a gravitational wave will absorb energy from that wave and brighten, an overlooked prediction of Einstein’s 1916 theory of general relativity. The study, which was published today in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters, contradicts previous assumptions about the behavior of gravitational waves.
Read the full story. 
Image by NASA.

New Research: Hints of Gravitational Waves in the Stars

Scientists have shown how gravitational waves—invisible ripples in the fabric of space and time that propagate through the universe—might be “seen” by looking at the stars. The new model, developed in part by researchers at the Museum, proposes that a star that oscillates at the same frequency as a gravitational wave will absorb energy from that wave and brighten, an overlooked prediction of Einstein’s 1916 theory of general relativity. The study, which was published today in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters, contradicts previous assumptions about the behavior of gravitational waves.

Read the full story

Image by NASA.

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