GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Visitors can discover 70 million years of climate change on Earth in a new exhibit now open at the Florida Museum of Natural History.
The “Our Changing Climate: Past and Present” exhibit uses large-format graphs showing major historic events to present the story of Earth’s changing climate over geologic time. The exhibit also highlights how Earth’s climate fluctuates and what global trends are affecting life today.
Opened Wednesday, this free exhibit is the first in a series of exhibits focusing on world issues that influence humans’ daily lives.
“In this series of exhibitions, we hope to engage visitors in a conversation by looking at how science explores the issues and how it can help us navigate ways to correct course or cope with new realities,” said Darcie MacMahon, the museum’s head of exhibits and public programs.
Some of the issues to be presented in future displays are especially important for Floridians, such as sea level rise and (more…)
Editors: A complete list of activities follows this release
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida Museum visitors will have the opportunity to uncover Earth’s geological wonders by observing simulated volcanic eruptions, sifting for minerals and gems and other activities during the ninth annual “Can You Dig It?” event March 14 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
This free, family-friendly event provides visitors an understanding of Earth’s materials and processes through hands-on activities and educational demonstrations.
“It’s not just a walk-by-and-look-see kind of event,” said program organizer Matt Smith, a senior lecturer and undergraduate advisor in the University of Florida department of geological sciences. “People who come tend to spend some time and really engage.”
The latest additions to this year’s list of activities include learning how to identify real meteorites from impostors and (more…)
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The winning artists of images of nanoparticles to a woolly mammoth in the University of Florida Elegance of Science Contest will be recognized in an award ceremony at the Florida Museum of Natural History March 20 at 3:30 p.m.
A committee of six judges from Gainesville’s art and science communities evaluated 94 entries on their scientific and artistic merit.
“I enjoyed seeing the variety of ways you can interpret ‘the elegance of science,’” said judge and professional photographer Kristen Grace, who also works at the Florida Museum. “Some were as simple as a dewdrop on a flower petal and (more…)
New public speaking, leadership opportunities available
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Students ages 12-17 searching for hands-on experience and leadership roles may apply from March 2 through March 27 for the Florida Museum of Natural History’s summer junior volunteer program.
This year, the museum is offering returning junior volunteers the opportunity to speak with visitors in the current featured exhibit, “A T. rex Named Sue,” which tells the story of the largest, most complete and best-preserved Tyrannosaurus rex ever discovered. Volunteers in this new position will give brief talks while standing in front of the fully-articulated cast of Sue, and then answer visitor questions.
With the debut of this summer’s leadership program, the museum will invite a small number of returning applicants to help train their peers, facilitate daily assignments and plan the end-of-summer awards ceremony.
Junior volunteers also will have the opportunity to learn alongside museum staff in a variety of positions that include discovery cart attendant, “Discovery Room” assistant and (more…)
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Tropical turtle fossils discovered in Wyoming by University of Florida scientists reveal that when the earth got warmer, prehistoric turtles headed north. But if today’s turtles try the same technique to cope with warming habitats, they might run into trouble.
While the fossil turtle and its kin could move northward with higher temperatures, human pressures and habitat loss could prevent a modern-day migration, leading to the extinction of some modern species.
The newly discovered genus and species, Gomphochelys (pronounced gom-fo-keel-eez) nanus – provides a clue to how animals might respond to future climate change, said Jason Bourque, a paleontologist at the Florida Museum of Natural History at UF and the lead author of the study, which appears online this week in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.
The wayfaring turtle was among the species that researchers believe migrated 500-600 miles north 56 million years ago, during a temperature peak known as the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum. Lasting about 200,000 years, the temperature peak resulted in significant movement and diversification of plants and animals.
“We knew that some plants and lizards migrated north when the climate warmed, but (more…)
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — In the cover of night, an unseen war between bats and moths has been raging for 60 million years—and a new study suggests the insects have evolved long tails as a defense.
The collaborative work between University of Florida and Boise State University researchers is a first step in determining why bats are lured into striking a false target and could have implications on sonar development for the military, said study co-author Akito Kawahara, assistant curator of Lepidoptera at the Florida Museum of Natural History on the UF campus.
“This finding expands our knowledge of anti-predator deflection strategies and the extent of a long-standing evolutionary arms race between bats and moths,” Kawahara said.
The study appearing today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows luna moths spin their long hindtails as they fly, confusing the sonar cries bats use to image prey and other objects. Diversionary tactics, such as false eye spots and (more…)
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The ecosystems of the Adriatic Sea have weathered natural climate shifts for 125,000 years, but humans could be rapidly altering this historically stable biodiversity hot spot, a University of Florida study says.
The study details a major shift in bottom-dwelling species in Italy’s Po Basin, a region south of Venice known for its ecologically and commercially important shellfish as well as its tourism industry.
“The fossil record suggests that human activities can alter even those ecosystems that have been immune to major changes naturally occurring on our planet,” said the study’s lead author, Michal Kowalewski, the Thompson Chair of Invertebrate Paleontology at the Florida Museum of Natural History on the UF campus.
“We may be witnessing a permanent shift,” Kowalewski said. “This restructuring could have lasting consequences for regional biodiversity, including the overall health of the broader marine ecosystems of the Adriatic.”
Mollusks preserve well in the fossil record and (more…)
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Florida Museum of Natural History will host a free presentation with paleontologist Timothy Rowe at 7 p.m. Feb. 16 as part of the 2014-2015 Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholars Program.
Rowe will present a lecture titled “What Happened to the Dinosaurs?” at Powell Hall, 3215 Hull Road, on the University of Florida campus. His talk complements the museum’s current featured exhibition, “A T. rex Named Sue,” which presents the story of the largest, most complete and best-preserved Tyrannosaurus rex ever discovered. A reception will follow the presentation.
The J. Nalle Gregory Regents Professor of Geology at the University of Texas at Austin, Rowe primarily studies the evolution and (more…)
Early sign-up for museum members opens March 1
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Register your child beginning March 15 for adventures and scientific exploration at the Florida Museum of Natural History’s summer and field camps.
Students in grades 1-4 for the 2015-2016 school year can examine fossils, discover ancient cultures, learn about past and present ecosystems and meet some of the most interesting members of the animal kingdom during the weeklong camps that run June 8-July 31. Students in grades 5-6 may register for a field camp focusing on nature photography the week of Aug. 3.
“Museum camps are always an exciting and fun way to learn about everything from insects, collecting, engineering and chemistry to (more…)
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Students will have the opportunity to explore Florida habitats and learn how living things move during the Florida Museum of Natural History’s new series of spring break camps March 23-27.
The camps for students enrolled in grades K-5 for the 2014-2015 school year provide natural history exploration through museum exhibits and hands-on activities.
“Museum camps are a great way to channel your child’s spring fever,” said Florida Museum public programs coordinator Catherine Carey. “Here is a chance to learn about nature and have fun all at the same time.”
Pre-registration is required for all camps and (more…)