‘Passport’ gala Feb. 19 to benefit educational programs

February 5th, 2016

16314 Passport FB 1 FNLGAINESVILLE, Fla. — Prepare for an island-hopping adventure and join the Florida Museum of Natural History for its annual “Passport” gala fundraiser Feb. 19 from 7 to 11 p.m. to support pre-K through 12th grade education programs.

Organized by the Florida Museum Associates Board, “Passport to Caribbean Nights” proceeds will help fund education initiatives including admission assistance for Title I schools, outreach to elementary classrooms and after-school programs, and funding for camp scholarships and the junior volunteer program.

“Children who visit the museum discover the excitement and wonder of science and of the natural world,” said Anne Shermyen, Florida Museum Associates Board vice president. “They also can experience history and learn of our diverse cultural heritage.”

Proceeds from last year’s event were used to bring more than 1,800 Alachua County fourth-grade students to the museum as part of a two-hour free program to visit the “First Colony: Our Spanish Origins” exhibit. The grant from the Florida Museum Associates Board covered (more…)

Museum reaches 500,000 digitized mollusks online, largest worldwide

February 5th, 2016
This jeweled topsnail, Calliostoma annulatum, from the San Juan Islands off the coast of Washington, is one of the species found in the Florida Museum’s digital catalog of more than 500,000 mollusk specimen records. The database includes about a third of the world’s 100,000 identified species. Florida Museum of Natural History photo by Gustav Paulay

This jeweled topsnail, Calliostoma annulatum, from the San Juan Islands off the coast of Washington, is one of the species in the Florida Museum’s digital catalog of mollusk specimen records.
Florida Museum of Natural History photo by Gustav Paulay

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Florida Museum of Natural History recently surpassed half a million cataloged mollusk specimen records in its online database, making it the world’s largest digitally accessible collection for the shellfish group.

Museum researchers have been building the online catalog for more than 30 years, and it includes about a third of the word’s approximately 100,000 identified mollusk species, said Florida Museum curator of marine malacology Gustav Paulay.

“Researchers as well as the public may access the database and (more…)

Best-selling author Randy Wayne White to host Randell fundraiser Feb. 11

January 18th, 2016
Author Randy Wayne White will host the fundraiser at Doc Ford's Bar & Grill on Captiva Island.

Randy Wayne White

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Florida Museum of Natural History’s Randell Research Center in Pineland will hold a fundraiser featuring best-selling author Randy Wayne White Feb. 11 from 3 to 6 p.m. for the preservation of Southwest Florida history and culture.

White will host the event at Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille on Captiva Island featuring stories, food, cocktails and a live auction to help the Randell Center reach its 20th anniversary endowment goal of $850,000. Tickets are $200 and limited to 100 guests.

“Many people love Randy White’s “Doc Ford” and “Hannah Smith” novels and this is a rare opportunity to have some fun hanging out with Randy while helping a (more…)

Registration opens Jan. 18 for K-5 spring break camps

January 15th, 2016
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

Stephanie Stocks, a UF department of entomology and nematology doctoral student, shows children an emperor scorpion during a museum 2013 spring break camp.
Florida Museum of Natural History photo by Kristen Grace

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Students will have an opportunity to uncover centuries of history about America’s first European settlement as well as the land and environments protected by the National Park Service during Florida Museum of Natural History spring break camps March 21-25.

Developed for students enrolled in grades K-5 for the 2015-2016 school year, the camps provide natural history exploration through museum exhibits and hands-on activities.

“Museum camp is a superfun way to explore the world without leaving Gainesville,” said Florida Museum public programs coordinator Catherine Carey.

Registration is now open for museum members and will open Jan. 18 for non-members. Pre-registration (more…)

Celebrate 37th Collectors Day Jan. 9

December 17th, 2015

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Collectors can share their personal treasures with Florida Museum of Natural History visitors during the 37th Collectors Day Jan. 9, 2016, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Collectors Day is the museum’s longest-running and one of its most popular public programs.
Photo by Jeff Gage

This free event is the museum’s longest-running public program, allowing visitors to interact with collectors from across the region and learn about the context and historical significance of their collections.

Collectors Day was originally created to recognize collectors’ contributions and donations to the museum’s vast collections. The museum holds one of the nation’s largest collections with more than 40 million specimens, and was visited last year by more than 1,000 scientists and others from around the world last year researching various topics.

“Museum collections are the library of life,” said Florida Museum educator Tiffany Ireland. “They provide (more…)

Researchers discover six new African clawed-frog species

December 16th, 2015
mellotrop_gabon_BLS13506_NCSM78871_IMGP0156

A new study describes six new species of African clawed frogs, including Xenopus mellotropicalis, pictured here in Gabon, Central Africa.
Photo courtesy of Bryan Stuart

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — African clawed frogs have been widely studied, but turns out at least six species fooled researchers for more than a century with their nearly identical appearances.

The discovery of six new African clawed frogs and one redescribed species increases the number of known species in the group from 22 to 29. Now researchers can begin asking questions about the genetics of these species, nearly all of which are the product of hybridization among ancestral species and can have up to six duplicated sets of DNA. The new species are described online today in the journal PLOS ONE.

A better understanding of the species’ genetic variations could improve conservation biology in biodiversity hot spots by helping to define those regions, said study co-author David Blackburn, associate curator of herpetology at the Florida Museum of Natural History.

“While we know a lot about African clawed frogs (more…)

UF employees receive free admission, gift shops discount Saturday

December 3rd, 2015
The museum is featuring a display of multicolored poinsettias in the Butterfly Rainforest through Dec. 31, a nice backdrop for family photographs. Photo by Kate Martin

The museum is featuring a display of multicolored poinsettias in the Butterfly Rainforest through Dec. 31, a nice backdrop for family photographs.
Photo by Kate Martin

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida employees will receive free admission and gift shop and plant sale discounts at the Florida Museum of Natural History from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5, as part of UF Faculty and Staff Appreciation Day.

UF employees must present a valid Gator 1 card for free admission to the “First Colony: Our Spanish Origins” and “Butterfly Rainforest” exhibits. The museum’s other exhibits are free. Employees may also show their Gator 1 card to receive a 10 percent discount in both museum gift shops, including butterfly-friendly plant purchases.

“The staff and faculty represent UF’s most valuable asset,” Florida Museum of Natural History Director Douglas Jones said. “By offering free admission to the ‘First Colony’ and ‘Butterfly Rainforest’ (more…)

Before the Pilgrims, Floridians celebrated the ‘real’ first Thanksgiving

November 18th, 2015
Florida Museum Historical Archaeology Collection Manager Gifford Waters, pictured in the “First Colony” exhibit, is one of the UF experts setting the record straight about the first Thanksgiving, which actually took place in Florida more than 50 years before the Pilgrims’ feast.  UF photo by Bernard Brzezinski

Florida Museum Historical Archaeology Collection Manager Gifford Waters, pictured in the “First Colony” exhibit, is one of the UF experts setting the record straight about the first Thanksgiving, which actually took place in Florida more than 50 years before the Pilgrims’ feast.
UF photo by Bernard Brzezinski

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — It’s that time of year when children make cardboard turkeys and draw the Mayflower, while we prepare to fill our tables with stuffing and pumpkin pie the way most of us imagine the Pilgrims did at the first Thanksgiving in 1621.

But there’s just one catch, according to archaeologists at the Florida Museum of Natural History: The Pilgrims’ Thanksgiving wasn’t the first.

The nation’s real first Thanksgiving took place more than 50 years earlier near the Matanzas River in St. Augustine, Florida, when Spanish explorer Pedro Menéndez de Avilés and 800 soldiers, sailors and settlers joined local Native Americans in a feast that followed a Mass of Thanksgiving, according to Kathleen Deagan, distinguished research curator emerita of historical archaeology at the museum, located on the University of Florida campus.

Instead of flat-top hats and oversized buckles, conquistadors wore armor and (more…)

UF scientific art competition now accepting entries from employees, students

November 13th, 2015

12790-The-Elegance-of-Science-rotatorGAINESVILLE, Fla. — The University of Florida Elegance of Science art competition is now accepting submissions until Dec. 20 for work that emphasizes the connection between artistic and scientific perceptions of reality.

Organized by the Marston Science Library and Florida Museum of Natural History, the contest is open to UF students, staff and faculty who create two-dimensional images as part of their research or incorporate scientific tools or concepts in their artwork.

The contest aims to teach the community about science in a casual way while bridging gaps between people from diverse disciplines across campus, said (more…)

Museum to host 17th ‘Trashformations’ student recycled art competition

November 3rd, 2015
Museum visitor views an entry constructed from recycled materials for the 2014 "Trashformations" student art competition.  Florida Museum of Natural History photo by Kristen Grace

Museum visitor views an entry constructed from recycled materials for the 2014 “Trashformations” student art competition.
Florida Museum of Natural History photo by Kristen Grace

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Alachua County students will learn the value of repurposed waste during the 17th annual “Trashformations” student recycled art competition awards ceremony Nov. 20 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Florida Museum of Natural History.

Participants will transform “waste” into creative works of art to compete for cash and other awards. Middle school, high school and college students are eligible to apply through Nov. 13.

“The museum is committed to providing resources and setting an example for a sustainable society,” said Florida Museum educator Tiffany Ireland. “ ‘Trashformations’ is a unique way to feature area student artists’ interpretation of what ‘trash’ can become.”

To participate in the eco-friendly contest, at least 70 percent of the entry must be constructed from recycled materials. Judges select winners based on creative expression and (more…)

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