1. 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.

    Read about the changes Inner Mongolia has gone in the past century, and what it means for paleontologists

  2. 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. 
Learn more about the process of building the 94-foot, 21,000-pound model on the Museum blog. 
AMNH/314185

    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. 

    Learn more about the process of building the 94-foot, 21,000-pound model on the Museum blog. 

    AMNH/314185

  3. 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.

    Learn more about this information.

  4. Expedition Report: Susan Perkins in Saba

    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.

    Listen to more in our Expedition Report series.

  5. 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.
Get tickets today. 

    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.

    Get tickets today. 

  6. 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.
They spit: 
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.
Learn more spider hunting techniques on our blog. 

    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.

    They spit: 

    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.

    Learn more spider hunting techniques on our blog

  7. In 1906, the seismologist Henry Reid developed the “elastic rebound theory” to explain earthquakes. When rocks begin to press against each other, they initially bend, like a spring, to accommodate the opposing forces. Eventually, when the rocks reach a point where they cannot bend further, they break. The bent rocks snap back, or rebound, to their original shape. The break is the fault itself, and the shock waves emanating from the rebound are the earthquake. The shock waves vibrate through the Earth, making it “ring” like a bell.

    A fault is a rock fracture along which movement occurs. Normal faults develop where the crust stretches apart, as in the East African Rift Valley. In thrust faults, which are found at subduction zones, the rocks on one side of the fault are pushed up and over those on the other side. A third type of fault is the strike-slip fault, where the rocks on either side of the fault slip by each other horizontally. The San Andreas Fault is a strike-slip fault.

    Learn more about earthquakes in the Gottesman Hall of Planet Earth

  8. In partnership with Khan Academy, the American Natural History Museum is excited to present two online educational series.
Khan Academy provides a free world-class education for anyone anywhere. After working together for several months, we have developed engaging learning experiences around topics that everyone can get excited about: Dinosaurs and The Universe!
Get started learning.

    In partnership with Khan Academy, the American Natural History Museum is excited to present two online educational series.

    Khan Academy provides a free world-class education for anyone anywhere. After working together for several months, we have developed engaging learning experiences around topics that everyone can get excited about: Dinosaurs and The Universe!

    Get started learning.

  9. The material of stars is recycled over billions of years. Interstellar gas clouds collapse to make stars. Stars forge heavy elements and return their gas to space. This material enriches gas clouds from which new stars are formed, and the cycle continues. Each generation of stars is made in part from the ashes of previous generations.
Click to enlarge this diagram, and learn more about stars on our website.

    The material of stars is recycled over billions of years. Interstellar gas clouds collapse to make stars. Stars forge heavy elements and return their gas to space. This material enriches gas clouds from which new stars are formed, and the cycle continues. Each generation of stars is made in part from the ashes of previous generations.

    Click to enlarge this diagram, and learn more about stars on our website.

  10. Curious about what a day in the life of a paleontologist is really like? Jack Tseng, a postdoctoral fellow in the Division of Paleontology at the Museum, is blogging from a fossil-finding expedition in Inner Mongolia. In his most recent post he covers many topics. 

    Breakfast:

    "A typical day in Inner Mongolia begins with a hearty breakfast…a feast of freshly boiled sheep parts at the crack of dawn, usually accompanied by sheep cheese and milk tea."

    Water:

    "We also make sure we have enough water (both potable and non-potable) to drink and to make plaster casings with, in case we find something worth excavating."

    Revisiting old dig sites:

    "Even at the most surveyed fossil sites, nature works its wonder through wind, rain, snow, and tectonic activities. Existing rock layers at the surface (where most of previous fossil discoveries are located) are slowly weathered away each year, exposing fresh surfaces that have not been studied before."

    The necessity of binoculars:

    "For surveying rock outcrops in the distance, or for bird-watching when no other paleontologists are around!"

    Read much more in his Fieldwork Journal on the Museum blog

  11. Headed to the beach this weekend? You might spot a Tiger Cowrie! 
See archival images of the Museum’s Shell Hall in the Digital Special Collections. 

    Headed to the beach this weekend? You might spot a Tiger Cowrie! 

    See archival images of the Museum’s Shell Hall in the Digital Special Collections. 

  12. The weekend has arrived! Arachnophobes and ’philes alike will get a kick out the live animal exhibition Spiders Alive! See 20 species of live arachnids, get a close up view in the live spider presentations, and hop up on the climbable trapdoor spider. Learn more. 

    This week you may have missed:

    Have a great weekend!

  13. Look, #FossilFriday is smiling at you!
This fossil is Diadectes phaseolinus, and it lived in the Early Permian, about 280 million years ago. The anthracosaurs that gave rise to the amniotes—true land animals with watertight eggs—probably looked something like Diadectes. Diadectes shows the general form of early amniote relatives: well developed limbs clearly capable of terrestrial locomotion, but a posture that is sprawling, not erect, like that of many later amniotes. What Diadectes ate is unknown, but it had complex, molarlike teeth and may have been a plant-eater. 
This fossil is located in the Museum’s Hall of Vertebrate Origins. 

    Look, #FossilFriday is smiling at you!

    This fossil is Diadectes phaseolinus, and it lived in the Early Permian, about 280 million years ago. The anthracosaurs that gave rise to the amniotes—true land animals with watertight eggs—probably looked something like Diadectes. Diadectes shows the general form of early amniote relatives: well developed limbs clearly capable of terrestrial locomotion, but a posture that is sprawling, not erect, like that of many later amniotes. What Diadectes ate is unknown, but it had complex, molarlike teeth and may have been a plant-eater. 

    This fossil is located in the Museum’s Hall of Vertebrate Origins

  14. 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.

  15. Fieldwork Journal: Reporting from Inner Mongolia

    Jack Tseng and Camille Grohe, postdoctoral fellows in the Division of Paleontology at the American Museum of Natural History, are blogging from the field during an expedition to Inner Mongolia. Their expedition aims to find fossils of extinct mammals that lived between 20 and 6 million years ago.

    In Jack’s first blog post, he discusses the area of Inner Mongolia (not to be confused with Mongolia) where the expedition is taking place and Museum’s historic Central Asiatic Expeditions of the 1920’s. 

    Read the full Fieldwork Journal on the Museum blog.