GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The University of Florida begins its 20th season of archaeological fieldwork since 1976 this week in St. Augustine at the site of America’s first colony, founded by explorer Pedro Menendez in 1565.
Though the original colony lasted only nine months, researchers have uncovered more than 97,000 artifacts left behind by Spanish immigrants, valued at nearly $3.5 million and recently donated by the Fraser family to the Florida Museum of Natural History on the UF campus. Now researchers will begin unearthing the colony’s fortifications to better understand its defenses, said Kathleen Deagan, retired distinguished curator of historical archaeology at the Florida Museum.
“These artifacts are the only evidence we have as to how people lived in the colony and what objects they used,” Deagan said. “The documents from the period only briefly describe the settlers’ time at the site. There is nothing there about their lives and how people coped with being in a new, strange place. Now that we know more about their lives within the colony, we want to understand how they defended it.”
The Frasers own and operate the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park where the first colony site is located. In February, the family visited the museum’s historical archaeology collections at Dickinson Hall on the UF campus to observe how the donated artifacts are being pieced together and studied to understand where the materials originated and how they were made. Park manager John Fraser said his family donated the artifacts to ensure they would be preserved and (more…)
Editors: A complete list of activities follows this release
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Visitors will have their world rocked with volcanic eruptions and geological discoveries at the Florida Museum of Natural History’s eighth annual “Can You Dig It?” event on Saturday, March 15 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
This free, family-friendly event provides hands-on activities and demonstrations to educate visitors about the many aspects of geology and the Earth.
“At ‘Can You Dig It?’ we try to create things of interest for people of all ages and backgrounds,” said event coordinator Matt Smith, a senior (more…)
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Students ages 12-17 looking for scholarship hours, a great resume builder or hands-on experience may apply beginning Monday for the Florida Museum of Natural History’s summer junior volunteer program.
The museum will accept applications through March 28 for its popular program, which provides students the opportunity to work alongside museum staff in a variety of positions, including discovery cart attendant, Discovery Room assistant and camp teacher’s assistant.
“The Florida Museum’s junior volunteer program is a great way for youth 12 to 17 years old to gain experience working with younger children, interacting with the public and (more…)
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A Florida Museum of Natural History researcher has received $150,000 from the National Science Foundation to study endangered moth species in Hawaii that haven’t been seen for nearly 100 years and were believed to be extinct.
Assistant curator of Lepidoptera Akito Kawahara and his team will travel to Hawaii in July to collect samples of rare leaf-mining moths from the genus Philodoria, which have not been documented since the early 1900s. Researchers believed the moths to be (more…)
Early sign-up for museum members opens March 1
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Register your child beginning March 15 for discovery and exploration at the Florida Museum of Natural History summer and field camps.
Students in grades 1-6 for the 2014-2015 school year can investigate natural history, examine fossils, discover ancient cultures and meet some of the most interesting members of the animal kingdom during the weeklong camps that run June 9 through Aug. 1.
“Museum camps are always educational and fun,” said Florida Museum of Natural History public programs coordinator Catherine Carey. “This summer, campers will learn about everything from great inventions and archaeology to wolves and dogs in our new temporary exhibit, ‘Wolf to Woof: The Story of Dogs.’”
Morning, afternoon and full-day sessions are available for summer camps. Students in grades 5-6 may register for field camps focusing on Florida archaeology and (more…)
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The world experienced the lowest number of shark attacks since 2009, although fatalities in 2013 were above average, according to the University of Florida’s International Shark Attack File report released today.
The U.S. saw a decrease in attacks with 47, lower than the 2012 total of 54, which was the highest yearly total of the current century. There were 10 fatalities worldwide, which is higher than the 10-year average from 2003-2012. Two localities, Western Australia (six deaths in past four years) and Reunion Island (five deaths in three years) in the southwest Indian Ocean, remained shark-attack hot spots, while places where shark activity is typically rare or nonexistent also experienced attacks, said George Burgess, curator of the file (more…)
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — With the goal of promoting life-long learning, University of Florida researchers will use a four-year, $1.97 million National Science Foundation grant to create a nationwide network of amateur and professional paleontologists.
Fossil clubs across the country function independently and do not communicate with each other or professionals as most science-hobbyist groups do, according to research by Bruce MacFadden, vertebrate paleontology curator at the Florida Museum of Natural History on the UF campus.
The FOSSIL Project–Fostering Opportunities for Synergistic STEM in Informal Learners–will cultivate a network for fossil enthusiasts to collaborate in blended learning, the practice of science and educational outreach. To facilitate relationship building, amateur paleontologists have been invited to participate in the North American Paleontology Convention to be held in Gainesville beginning Saturday.
“This is the first time that fossil enthusiasts have been invited, and the grant is paying for them to attend,” said MacFadden, who is partnering (more…)
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — On Feb. 22 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. the Florida Museum of Natural History is answering the age-old question of “Who let the dogs out?” with the celebration of its newest temporary exhibit, “Wolf to Woof: The Story of Dogs.”
The free, family-friendly event includes demonstrations by Pepe Dogs detection dogs and agility demonstrations by the Greater Ocala Dog Club. Visitors also will have the opportunity to speak with representatives from Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Park, Alachua County Animal Services, Patriot PAWS, University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, Florida Museum and more.
“This event is an excellent opportunity for the student (more…)
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Florida Museum of Natural History will host a meeting of nearly 500 scientists from 28 countries for the 10th North American Paleontological Convention Feb. 15-18 at the Hilton University of Florida Conference Center.
Established 45 years ago and held every five years, the conference brings together scholars, students and others interested in paleontology. Attendees from every continent but Antarctica are expected for this year’s meeting.
“This event offers paleontologists from all over the world an opportunity to exchange research ideas and highlight recent scientific discoveries unearthed from the fossil record,” said Florida Museum Thompson Chair of Invertebrate (more…)
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Students will have the opportunity to investigate life on the farm and immerse themselves in theatrical magic with the Florida Museum of Natural History through its newest series of spring break camps March 24-28.
These camps for students enrolled in grades K-5 for the 2013-2014 school year provide natural history exploration through museum exhibits and hands-on activities.
“Parents are always looking for fun and educational activities to do with children over the holidays,” said Florida Museum of Natural History public programs coordinator Catherine Carey. “Spring break camps at the museum are a perfect example of what to do to have happy campers at the house.”
Pre-registration is required for all camps and is available on the Florida Museum website at http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/events/camps/school-holiday/.
In the morning students will get “Down on the Farm” by learning more about domestic animals and (more…)