The Florida Museum of Natural History houses nearly
40 million scientific specimens,
placing it among
the nation’s top five largest museums. While its main
focus is Florida, the southeastern United States and the
Caribbean, the Florida Museum’s many research projects
span the globe—including work in 29 countries and 18
states last year. Museum researchers brought in $3.05
million in new grants and contracts over the past year,
which support collections, education, fieldwork and
laboratory research activities.
Among many others, exciting new projects include
research on the domestication of turkeys by the ancient
Mayas, characterization of marine benthic communities
in the Carolinas, digitization of the Herbarium’s lichens
and bryophytes, as well as collection improvement
grants for vertebrate paleontology, invertebrate zoology
and ichthyology. These projects support and educate
students from the University of Florida and around the
world, as part of the Museum’s commitment to train the
next generation of scientists.
The Museum is also home to two large collaborative
grants. The goal of the NSF-funded Panama PIRE project
is to advance knowledge of the extinct faunas and
floras of the ancient Neotropics based on the new fossil
discoveries along the Panama Canal. This collaborative
grant promotes discovery and advances knowledge
in paleontology, geology and biology while developing
global competency among scientists and students,
in part through international research experiences.
The other collaborative grant is the NSF-funded iDigBio
project. Its mission is to develop a national infrastructure
to support a permanent database of digitized information
from all biological collections in the U.S. This database
will lead to new research discoveries, promote a better
understanding and appreciation of biodiversity through
improved education and outreach, and facilitate better
environmental and economic policies.
Both projects bring hundreds of scientists from around
the globe to campus for workshops, meetings and other
research activities, and bolster UF’s reputation as an
international leader in biodiversity research.
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The Museum’s first exhibits
displayed in Science Hall
included bird and egg
specimens. The exhibits,
including some of the
display cases, were moved
and later opened to the
public in the Seagle
Building downtown in 1939.
Kathleen Deagan and
Gifford Waters work at
the Fountain of Youth
Park site in St. Augustine.
Museum Associate Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology Jonathan
Bloch (center) discusses
during the Titanoboa:
Monster Snake screening event with Paige Cofrin (from left),
David H. Cofrin and Edith Cofrin (second from right). The extinct giant
turtle was named in honor of the Cofrins’ father, Dr. David A. Cofrin (d).