Tour the cosmos during Starry Night event Nov. 14

October 30th, 2014
Stargazing

Visitors stargaze using professional-quality telescopes during the 2011 Starry Night event.
Florida Museum of Natural History photo by Kristen Grace

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — It’s written in the stars that Florida Museum of Natural History visitors will have an opportunity to observe the universe with astronomy experts during the eighth annual Starry Night from 6 to 10 p.m. Nov. 14.

Visitors can stargaze during a planetarium show and with professional-quality telescopes provided by area astronomists at this free, family-friendly event. A 3-D “AstroWall” will also allow visitors to view the cosmos in another dimension.

Representatives from the Alachua Astronomy Club, Santa Fe College natural sciences department’s astronomy program, the Kika Silva Pla Planetarium and UF astronomy department will help visitors uncover the mysteries of the night sky.

“I think people love space because it is something we are completely surrounded by but also (more…)

New study shows megalodon shark became extinct 2.6 million years ago

October 22nd, 2014
Pimiento in lab

Lead researcher Catalina Pimiento measures a megalodon tooth at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.
Florida Museum of Natural History photo by Jeff Gage

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A new University of Florida study dismisses claims that megalodon is still alive by determining a date of extinction for the largest predatory shark to ever live.

Researchers from UF and the University of Zurich hope the study appearing online today in the journal PLOS ONE showing the species became extinct 2.6 million years ago will clarify public confusion. The study may also one day help scientists better understand the potential widespread effects of losing the planet’s top predators, said lead author Catalina Pimiento.

“I was drawn to the study of Carcharocles megalodon’s extinction because it is fundamental to know when species became extinct to then begin to understand the causes and consequences of such an event,” said Pimiento, a doctoral candidate at the Florida Museum of Natural History on the UF campus. “I also think people who are interested in this animal deserve to know what the scientific evidence shows, especially following Discovery Channel specials that (more…)

Scouting programs offer badges, nature exploration

October 16th, 2014
Members of various girl scout troops attend a workshop to earn a special badge.

Members of various Girl Scout troops attend a workshop to earn a special badge.
Florida Museum of Natural History photo by Kristen Grace

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts are invited to get a closer look at the natural world by participating in their next adventure at the Florida Museum of Natural History.

On Nov. 9, Girl Scouts will have the opportunity to practice scientific investigation at the Florida Museum’s “She’s A Scientist: A Girl Scout Exploration” program.

The program from 1 to 4 p.m. allows Brownie or Junior Girl Scouts to experience hands-on activities and experiments while meeting local scientists. The Scouts can earn a museum patch created for the event.

“I am very excited for this new program,” said Florida Museum educator Amanda Harvey. “The Scouts will have a unique opportunity to meet with many of our local scientists and to learn what kind of research is being done right here in Gainesville.”

The program is $5 per Scout including the patch. Girls may attend with their guardians or with a troop. Pre-registration is available but not required.

On May 1, 2015, the museum will host “Girl Scouts Explore: Lepidoptera” from 6 to 9 p.m., during which Scouts may explore the “Butterfly Rainforest,” learn how to pin butterfly specimens with researchers from the McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity and (more…)

‘Megalodon’ celebration activities set for Oct. 26

October 15th, 2014

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Florida Museum of Natural History is planning a “fintastic” celebration for the “Megalodon: Largest Shark that Ever Lived” exhibit from 1 to 4 p.m. Oct. 26.

The free, family-friendly event celebrates the prehistoric shark and its connections to modern-day species, including conservation efforts needed to protect sharks.

“I hope visitors are inspired to learn about their environment’s past and protect their environment’s future,” said Florida Museum educator Tiffany Ireland.

Employees and students from the museum’s departments of ichthyology, invertebrate paleontology and paleobotany, as well as the FOSSIL program, will have displays on sharks and fossils. Visitors may also speak with representatives from the Florida Paleontological Society, Florida Fossil Hunters and other area fossil clubs about their discoveries and research, including prehistoric sharks that swam over and (more…)

Answer to restoring lost island biodiversity found in fossils

September 22nd, 2014
Croc skull

A new study shows scientists are only beginning to understand the roles of native species in prehistoric island ecosystems. Researchers discovered this 3,000-year-old fossil skull of a Cuban Crocodile, Crocodylus rhombifer, in the Bahamas. Florida Museum of Natural History photo by Kristen Grace

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Many native species have vanished from tropical islands because of human impact, but University of Florida scientists have discovered how fossils can be used to restore lost biodiversity.

The key lies in organic materials found in fossil bones, which contain evidence for how ancient ecosystems functioned, according to a new study available online and in the September issue of the Journal of Herpetology. Pre-human island ecosystems provide vital clues for saving endangered island species and re-establishing native species, said lead author Alex Hastings, who conducted work for the study as graduate student at the Florida Museum of Natural History and (more…)

Celebrate ninth annual ButterflyFest Oct. 4

September 18th, 2014

12694 BFest Digital Material_FB2GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Visitors are invited to flutter, flap and frolic at the Florida Museum of Natural History’s ninth annual ButterflyFest from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 4.

The free event features live butterfly releases, butterfly gardening workshops and one of the museum’s largest plant sales of the year. The three-day sale from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 3-5 includes more than 150 species and 2,500 plants.

“ButterflyFest is one of the museum’s signature events and fun for everyone,” said Florida Museum public programs coordinator Catherine Carey. “There is something for the serious and casual gardener, as well as families, scouts and students.”

The event celebrates the importance of backyard wildlife with an emphasis on pollinators like butterflies, bees and (more…)

Register now for K-5 school holiday camps Nov. 24-25

September 17th, 2014
Stephanie Stocks, a doctoral student in the UF Department of Entomology and Nematology, shows children an emperor scorpion, Pandinus imperator, during the museum's Spring Break Camp in 2013. Florida Museum of Natural History photo by Kristen Grace

UF doctoral candidate Stephanie Stocks shows children an emperor scorpion, Pandinus imperator, during a 2013 spring break camp.
Florida Museum of Natural History photo by Kristen Grace

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Students will have the opportunity to investigate monster myths and explore celebrations from around the world with the Florida Museum of Natural History during school holiday camps Nov. 24-25.

Pre-registration for students enrolled in grades K-5 for the 2014-2015 school year is required for all camps and is available online at http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/events/camps/school-holiday/. The camps provide natural history exploration through museum exhibits and hands-on activities.

“Museum camps are all about having fun while learning,” said Florida Museum public programs coordinator Catherine Carey.

On Nov. 24, students will explore the “Monster Myths” behind (more…)

NSF grant introduces K-12 teachers to museum’s Panama fieldwork

September 11th, 2014
Fossil extraction

Florida Museum Panama Canal Project assistant Robyn Hendrek and California teacher Jason Tovani extract a fossil at Alajuela Lake in Panama during a July field trip.‬‬‬
‪Photo courtesy of Megan Higbee‬ Hendrickson‬‬‬‬

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Over the past 4 million years, North American fauna migrated to South America via the Isthmus of Panama. University of Florida scientists and K-12 educators recently made the same trek to dig up the past.

A new $350,000 National Science Foundation grant is engaging Florida Museum of Natural History researchers with K-12 science educators in the real world of science through fieldwork and collaboration, including a two-week trip to Panama last month.

Florida teachers, including three from Gainesville area schools and one from Tampa, joined educators from California and New Mexico in Panama to work with scientists discovering fossils that tell the story of the Great American Interchange—the dispersal of plants and animals from North America to South America and (more…)

Museum begins year of giant fossils with ‘Megalodon’ exhibit opening Oct. 4

September 3rd, 2014

MegLogo_CMYK_FNL.jpgEditors: Exhibit press materials are available here.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — After six years of touring the country to more than 1 million visitors, the Florida Museum of Natural History welcomes “Megalodon: Largest Shark that Ever Lived” home beginning Oct. 4.

Produced by the Florida Museum, the exhibit tells the story of the largest shark that ever lived. It features a 60-foot-long walk-through sculpture of Megalodon and describes the evolution, biology and legends of giant prehistoric sharks. Though this dominant marine predator vanished 2 million years ago, its fascinating story inspires lessons for science and (more…)

Fall Science Café series begins Sept. 15

August 27th, 2014
Kawahara

Assistant curator of Lepidoptera Akito Kawahara led the yearlong study that revealed monumental discoveries about the evolutionary history of butterflies and moths.
Florida Museum of Natural History photo by Kristen Grace

Media contact: Paul Ramey, 352-273-2054, pramey@flmnh.ufl.edu
Source: Betty Dunckel, bdunckel@flmnh.ufl.edu, 352-273-2088

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Florida Museum of Natural History begins its fall “Science Café” series Sept. 15 with lepidopterist Akito Kawahara discussing “Discovering How Insects Jam Bat Sonar: A Story About Nocturnal Fieldwork in the Depths of the Amazon, Borneo and Central Africa.”

The program at Saboré, 13005 SW First Road, Suite 129 in Town of Tioga begins at 6:30 and reservations are required. For more information or to RSVP, email aerickson@flmnh.ufl.edu or call Amanda Erickson Harvey, 352-273-2062.

Now in its fourth year, the Science Café program brings guest speakers and community members together at local establishments to discuss contemporary science over food. Seating and food orders begin at 6 p.m. with the program starting at 6:30 p.m.

“Our fall Science Café series begins with a program that celebrates the 10th anniversary of the museum’s McGuire (more…)

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