1. Two-toed Sloth
Albert Seba’s (1665-1736) four volume Thesaurus (Locupletissimi rerum naturalium thesauri accurata descriptio…) illustrated the Dutch apothecary’s enormous collection of animal and plant specimens amassed over the years. Using preserved specimens, Seba’s artists could depict anatomy accurately—but not behavior. For example, this two-toed sloth is shown climbing upright, even though in nature, sloths hang upside down.
See this and other illustrations from the Museum’s Rare Book Collection in Natural Histories: 400 Years of Scientific Illustration from the Museum’s Library.

    Two-toed Sloth

    Albert Seba’s (1665-1736) four volume Thesaurus (Locupletissimi rerum naturalium thesauri accurata descriptio…) illustrated the Dutch apothecary’s enormous collection of animal and plant specimens amassed over the years. Using preserved specimens, Seba’s artists could depict anatomy accurately—but not behavior. For example, this two-toed sloth is shown climbing upright, even though in nature, sloths hang upside down.

    See this and other illustrations from the Museum’s Rare Book Collection in Natural Histories: 400 Years of Scientific Illustration from the Museum’s Library.

  2. Today’s peek into the archives takes us back to the Museum in 1910. “Sigurd Neandross painting figure in Haida ceremonial canoe, North Pacific Hall” was photographed by Thomas Lunt. 
The Great Canoe has since been moved to the Museum’s Grand Gallery. At 63 feet long, the seaworthy Great Canoe is one of the Museum’s most popular artifacts. It was carved in the 1870s from the trunk of a single cedar tree, and features design elements from different Native American peoples of the Northwest Coast, notably Haida and Heiltsuk. 
Learn more about the history of the Great Canoe.
AMNH/33006

    Today’s peek into the archives takes us back to the Museum in 1910. “Sigurd Neandross painting figure in Haida ceremonial canoe, North Pacific Hall” was photographed by Thomas Lunt.

    The Great Canoe has since been moved to the Museum’s Grand Gallery. At 63 feet long, the seaworthy Great Canoe is one of the Museum’s most popular artifacts. It was carved in the 1870s from the trunk of a single cedar tree, and features design elements from different Native American peoples of the Northwest Coast, notably Haida and Heiltsuk.

    Learn more about the history of the Great Canoe.

    AMNH/33006

  3. Sewellel (Mountain Beaver) - August Morning, Mount Rainier, Washington
Neither a beaver nor a high-mountain dweller, the sewellel is a rather singular animal. It’s the last living member of a once-successful family of rodents called the Aplodontiidae. The sewellel is a “living fossil,” showing primitive skeletal features that other rodents have lost. Its kidneys are also unusual: they are inefficient at maintaining the body’s water balance. Thus the sewellel needs to live close to water so it can drink a lot—a third of its weight in water per day. 
This diorama is located in the Bernard Family Hall of North American Mammals.

    Sewellel (Mountain Beaver)August Morning, Mount Rainier, Washington

    Neither a beaver nor a high-mountain dweller, the sewellel is a rather singular animal. It’s the last living member of a once-successful family of rodents called the Aplodontiidae. The sewellel is a “living fossil,” showing primitive skeletal features that other rodents have lost. Its kidneys are also unusual: they are inefficient at maintaining the body’s water balance. Thus the sewellel needs to live close to water so it can drink a lot—a third of its weight in water per day. 

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

  4. Today’s peek into the archives shows us “Mr. and Mrs. Bruce Horsfall working on background of Wild Turkey Habitat Group, North American Bird Hall.” Photographed by Otis J. Wheelock in 1907. 
For more images of diorama construction and more than 7,000 other archival images, head to our new online database Digital Special Collections.
AMNH/31655

    Today’s peek into the archives shows us “Mr. and Mrs. Bruce Horsfall working on background of Wild Turkey Habitat Group, North American Bird Hall.” Photographed by Otis J. Wheelock in 1907. 

    For more images of diorama construction and more than 7,000 other archival images, head to our new online database Digital Special Collections.

    AMNH/31655

  5. On this #MuseumMonday we’re taking a look at the inlay representing the face of the Aztec Sun Stone. Visitors who enter through the Weston Pavilion Entrance (Columbus Ave. and 79th St.) are greeted by this beautiful piece set in the floor. The Aztec Sun Stone was a centerpiece of the Hall of the Sun in the original Hayden Planetarium, built in 1935 (pictured above). 

    The original stone is a 25-ton monolith, which represents the fifth sun, or age, which began with the accession of King Itzcoatl (1427-1440). It is on view at the Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City, and a full-size cast stands in the Hall of Mexico and Central America.

    The central image depicts Tonatiuh, the Aztec sun god and principal deity during the fifth sun, and Aztec cycle that relates to time and politics. Four icons - jaguar, wind, rain, and water - represent the four previous suns, or ages, when the world was repeatedly created and destroyed. The twenty central signs belong to the 13 cycles in the 260-day Aztec ritual calendar. Two fire serpents encircle the mosaic, their heads face each other at the bottom and tails meet at the top.

    Learn more about the Inlay Aztec Sun Stone.

    Archival image: AMNH/327132

  6. Mountain Goat - August, Tongass National Forest, Southern Alaska
No mammal is more sure-footed on steep peaks than the mountain goat. Its agility and traction surpasses even that of wild sheep. Among the goat’s advantages are muscular forelimbs to help brake on downhills and race upslope.  This climber can gain 75 feet (23 meters) of altitude in only a minute. 
In fact, a young mountain goat can climb anywhere its mother can within a week after birth.   The kid in this scene is about three months old  and was probably born on a high cliff.  

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

    Mountain GoatAugust, Tongass National Forest, Southern Alaska

    No mammal is more sure-footed on steep peaks than the mountain goat. Its agility and traction surpasses even that of wild sheep. Among the goat’s advantages are muscular forelimbs to help brake on downhills and race upslope.  This climber can gain 75 feet (23 meters) of altitude in only a minute. 

    In fact, a young mountain goat can climb anywhere its mother can within a week after birth.   The kid in this scene is about three months old  and was probably born on a high cliff.  

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

  7. In the past, people could be poisoned from seemingly innocuous products. Lead was in sweetened wine, cosmetics, hair dye—and paint.
The famous Spanish artist Francisco Goya (1746–1828) suffered a mysterious illness with symptoms including partial paralysis, mood changes and blindness. Some researchers think lead poisoning was the cause, perhaps brought on by ingesting toxic dust when preparing his lead-based paints or by wetting his brushes with his tongue. Pictured is the painting “Saturn devouring one of his sons” by Goya, 1821-23, via Wikimedia. 
Learn more in the exhibition The Power of Poison, closing August 10!

    In the past, people could be poisoned from seemingly innocuous products. Lead was in sweetened wine, cosmetics, hair dye—and paint.

    The famous Spanish artist Francisco Goya (1746–1828) suffered a mysterious illness with symptoms including partial paralysis, mood changes and blindness. Some researchers think lead poisoning was the cause, perhaps brought on by ingesting toxic dust when preparing his lead-based paints or by wetting his brushes with his tongue. Pictured is the painting “Saturn devouring one of his sons” by Goya, 1821-23, via Wikimedia

    Learn more in the exhibition The Power of Poison, closing August 10!

  8. Hey science enthusiasts! Hey art lovers!
Check out this new Vertebrate Zoology Anatomy Illustration Pinboard, compiled from various Museum archives, including the Rare Book Collection and diorama preparation materials. 

    Hey science enthusiasts! Hey art lovers!

    Check out this new Vertebrate Zoology Anatomy Illustration Pinboard, compiled from various Museum archives, including the Rare Book Collection and diorama preparation materials. 

  9. Happy #MuseumCats day from the Canada Lynx! 
In this diorama, a snowshoe hare has captured the attention of a Canada lynx. If the hare acts quickly, it may escape. Lynxes specialize in hunting rabbits. They have broad, well-furred paws and fast reflexes. Lynx hearing and vision are also excellent for tracking rabbits on the run. 
Watch a video about the recent restoration of this diorama. 

    Happy #MuseumCats day from the Canada Lynx! 

    In this diorama, a snowshoe hare has captured the attention of a Canada lynx. If the hare acts quickly, it may escape. Lynxes specialize in hunting rabbits. They have broad, well-furred paws and fast reflexes. Lynx hearing and vision are also excellent for tracking rabbits on the run. 

    Watch a video about the recent restoration of this diorama

  10. The Peregrine Falcon, the swiftest of all birds of prey, is one of the most widely distributed species of birds, nesting on every continent except Antarctica. The world’s largest urban population of nesting Peregrine Falcons is in New York City.
The display in this hall was conceived by the Museum’s great ornithologist Frank M. Chapman. Under Chapman, the Museum’s bird collection grew to one of the greatest in the world. It holds over 95 percent of all known species of birds, or about 9,100 different kinds.
More in the Leonard C. Sanford Hall of North American Birds.

    The Peregrine Falcon, the swiftest of all birds of prey, is one of the most widely distributed species of birds, nesting on every continent except Antarctica. The world’s largest urban population of nesting Peregrine Falcons is in New York City.

    The display in this hall was conceived by the Museum’s great ornithologist Frank M. Chapman. Under Chapman, the Museum’s bird collection grew to one of the greatest in the world. It holds over 95 percent of all known species of birds, or about 9,100 different kinds.

    More in the Leonard C. Sanford Hall of North American Birds.

  11. Johann Friederich Wilhelm Herbst (1743-1807), a German churchman, naturalist, and superb artist, drew this illustration of the crab Cancer reticulatus for his book series Versuch einer Naturgeschichte der Krabben und Krebse… (Attempt at a natural history of crabs and crayfish…). In this three-volume work, Herbst illustrated and described crabs and crayfish. Thanks to their meticulous detail and coloring, the beautiful images endure as a useful scientific resource. 
See this and other illustrations from the Museum’s Rare Book Collection in Natural Histories: 400 Years of Scientific Illustration from the Museum’s Library.

    Johann Friederich Wilhelm Herbst (1743-1807), a German churchman, naturalist, and superb artist, drew this illustration of the crab Cancer reticulatus for his book series Versuch einer Naturgeschichte der Krabben und Krebse… (Attempt at a natural history of crabs and crayfish…). In this three-volume work, Herbst illustrated and described crabs and crayfish. Thanks to their meticulous detail and coloring, the beautiful images endure as a useful scientific resource. 

    See this and other illustrations from the Museum’s Rare Book Collection in Natural Histories: 400 Years of Scientific Illustration from the Museum’s Library.

  12. North American Beaver - July evening, Central Michigan
The beaver is not your typical rodent. It’s the largest one on the continent, and the only one that can cut down mature trees. As semiaquatic rodents, beavers have closeable ears and nostrils, webbed hind feet and very dense fur coats. Their paddlelike tails appear to be covered in scales like a fish, but they aren’t. Rather, the skin is grooved in a scaly pattern, which makes the thick tail more flexible.
Beavers can drastically alter landscapes. Working  in family groups of four to eight, a beaver colony can cut down more than a ton of trees per year. This colony has dammed a stream with logs, mud and stones to make a pond. The land is so newly flooded that some trees have not yet drowned. 
By altering streams, beavers expand wetlands , offering rich habitat for other species. Beaver ponds can also control runoff and reduce erosion. Eventually, this pond will clog with sediment. At that point, or when all accessible trees are cut, the colony will abandon its effort and begin again elsewhere.
This diorama is located in the Bernard Family Hall of North American Mammals. 

    North American Beaver - July evening, Central Michigan

    The beaver is not your typical rodent. It’s the largest one on the continent, and the only one that can cut down mature trees. As semiaquatic rodents, beavers have closeable ears and nostrils, webbed hind feet and very dense fur coats. Their paddlelike tails appear to be covered in scales like a fish, but they aren’t. Rather, the skin is grooved in a scaly pattern, which makes the thick tail more flexible.

    Beavers can drastically alter landscapes. Working  in family groups of four to eight, a beaver colony can cut down more than a ton of trees per year. This colony has dammed a stream with logs, mud and stones to make a pond. The land is so newly flooded that some trees have not yet drowned. 

    By altering streams, beavers expand wetlands , offering rich habitat for other species. Beaver ponds can also control runoff and reduce erosion. Eventually, this pond will clog with sediment. At that point, or when all accessible trees are cut, the colony will abandon its effort and begin again elsewhere.

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

  13. Our celebration of National Moth Week continues with the Hornet moth! Yesterday we featured the Madagascan sunset moth, and if you’re looking for more moth facts, head over to the Museum blog. 

    Our celebration of National Moth Week continues with the Hornet moth! Yesterday we featured the Madagascan sunset moth, and if you’re looking for more moth facts, head over to the Museum blog

  14. The opening of the Akeley Hall of African Mammals in 1936 marked the birth of the golden age of the diorama. Named for Carl Akeley—the naturalist, explorer, and Museum taxidermist—the hall showcases large mammals of Africa.
At the center is a freestanding group of eight elephants, poised as if to charge, surrounded by 28 vivid habitat dioramas. These provide a glimpse of the diverse topography of Africa and its wildlife, from the Serengeti Plain to the waters of the Upper Nile to the volcanic mountains of what was once the Belgian Congo. 
Learn more about the Akeley Hall of African Mammals.
AMNH/K. Regan

    The opening of the Akeley Hall of African Mammals in 1936 marked the birth of the golden age of the diorama. Named for Carl Akeleythe naturalist, explorer, and Museum taxidermistthe hall showcases large mammals of Africa.

    At the center is a freestanding group of eight elephants, poised as if to charge, surrounded by 28 vivid habitat dioramas. These provide a glimpse of the diverse topography of Africa and its wildlife, from the Serengeti Plain to the waters of the Upper Nile to the volcanic mountains of what was once the Belgian Congo. 

    Learn more about the Akeley Hall of African Mammals.

    AMNH/K. Regan

  15. Considered the most social of cats, lions live in prides that consist of one or more males, several females, and cubs. While a male lion consumes an average of 5,500 pounds of meat a year—mostly wildebeest, zebra, and antelopes—females do most of the actual hunting.
African lions breed at 3½ years old, and the cubs are born spotted at birth. Male lions weigh about 375 pounds while females average 265 pounds. In captivity, lions have lived up to 25 years, but in the wild they usually survive only half as long.
Find this diorama in the Akeley Hall of African Mammals.

    Considered the most social of cats, lions live in prides that consist of one or more males, several females, and cubs. While a male lion consumes an average of 5,500 pounds of meat a year—mostly wildebeest, zebra, and antelopes—females do most of the actual hunting.

    African lions breed at 3½ years old, and the cubs are born spotted at birth. Male lions weigh about 375 pounds while females average 265 pounds. In captivity, lions have lived up to 25 years, but in the wild they usually survive only half as long.

    Find this diorama in the Akeley Hall of African Mammals.