Mollusk graveyards are time machines to oceans’ pristine past

February 28th, 2017

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A Florida Museum of Natural History study shows that mollusk fossils provide a reliable measure of human-driven changes in marine ecosystems and shifts in ocean biodiversity.

collection of mollusk shells

Shells left behind by dead mollusks provide a glimpse into how marine ecosystems looked before human activities altered them.
Photo courtesy of Carrie Tyler

Collecting data from the shells of dead mollusks is a low-impact way of glimpsing how oceans looked before pollution, habitat loss, acidification and explosive algae growth threatened marine life worldwide. Mollusk fossils can inform current and future conservation and restoration efforts, said Michal Kowalewski, the Jon L. and Beverly A. Thompson Chair of Invertebrate Paleontology and the study’s principal investigator.

“You can think of these fossils as marine time machines that can unveil bygone habitats that existed before humans altered them,” he said. “Shells can help us understand past marine life and more precisely gauge recent changes in marine ecosystems. Fossils are the only direct way of learning what these ecosystems looked like before human activities disturbed them.”


Museum to mark 100th anniversary with gala, new exhibits and more

February 14th, 2017

The Florida Museum of Natural History is celebrating its 100-year anniversary as the official state natural history museum with a series of special events this year.

On Earth Day, Saturday, April 22, the museum will host a gala from 6 to 11 p.m. at Powell Hall on the University of Florida campus, with dinner, live entertainment and dancing.

Other anniversary weekend activities include a public presentation featuring National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore, who will speak at the Phillips Center for the Performing Arts on Friday, April 21 at 8 p.m.

An exclusive birthday party for museum members is planned for Tuesday, May 30.

New exhibits include the permanent “Beverly and Jon Thompson Discovery Zone” scheduled to open July 17 (more…)

Global shark attacks drop to annual average in 2016

January 24th, 2017

After 2015’s record-busting 98 shark attacks, calmer waters prevailed in 2016. The University of Florida’s International Shark Attack File reported 81 unprovoked attacks worldwide, in line with the five-year average of about 82 incidents annually.

Four of the attacks were fatal, a drop from six total fatalities the previous year.
While the U.S. had no fatal attacks in 2016, it topped the leaderboard for the most attacks globally, with 53.

Global attacks remain on a slow upward trend as the human population grows and (more…)

New ‘Frogs’ featured exhibit opens Jan. 28

December 22nd, 2016

Guests may examine a live dyeing poison frog, one of an array of poisonous species from the rain forests of the Americas on display in “Frogs!”
© velora

Hop into the musical and multicolored world of anurans, commonly known as frogs and toads, and gain a new appreciation for the beauty of these vocal amphibians this spring at the Florida Museum of Natural History.

Beginning Jan. 28, 2017, Florida Museum visitors will be able to get up-close and personal with big, loud and even poisonous frogs in the museum’s new featured exhibit “Frogs! A Chorus of Colors.”

Showcasing various species of live frogs and toads, “Frogs” is the most advanced traveling frog exhibition in the country. Guests may view tree frogs, bullfrogs, horned frogs, giant toads and dart poison frogs.

“Frogs are important globally for ecosystem health, but are under very serious threats from fungal diseases as well as loss of habitat and climate change,” said Darcie MacMahon, Florida Museum exhibits and public programs director. “This exhibit will help all of us learn more about their value in nature and challenges they face to survive.”

The Florida Museum is also supplementing the exhibit with updated material from its researchers, including what the fossil record reveals about frogs’ evolutionary history and the diversity, (more…)

‘Museums for All’ program strives to increase access for low-income visitors

October 3rd, 2016

museums-for-all-logo_rgbGAINESVILLE, Fla. — Beginning today, the Florida Museum of Natural History is offering reduced admission to low-income guests as part of a nationwide program to encourage museum visitation and accessibility for families from all socioeconomic groups.

Guests who present a valid electronic benefits transfer card may enter the “Butterfly Rainforest” and featured exhibition for a reduced fee of $3 per adult as part of “Museums for All,” an initiative of the Association of Children’s Museums and Institute of Museum and Library Services.

“We hope this program will expand access and provide meaningful connections to science in our community,” said Darcie MacMahon, (more…)

Curator Bruce MacFadden named president-elect of Paleontological Society

September 21st, 2016
Bruce MacFadden is a curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Florida Museum. Florida Museum photo by Jeff Gage

Bruce MacFadden is a curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Florida Museum.
Florida Museum photo by Jeff Gage

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A Florida Museum of Natural History curator has been selected to serve as president-elect of the Paleontological Society, the largest professional organization devoted to advancing the study of fossil animals and plants.

Bruce MacFadden, distinguished University of Florida professor and Florida Museum curator of vertebrate paleontology, will take office Sept. 25 during the society’s annual meeting in Denver. He will serve two years as president-elect and then a two-year term as president.

“It is an honor to lead the Paleontological Society,” MacFadden said. “I am interested in reaching out to anyone who wants to be involved with fossils and paleontology, whether they are professionals, students, teachers, hobbyists or other members of the general public.”

MacFadden was a geology instructor at Yale University before he began working at the Florida Museum in 1977. His research focuses on the evolution, (more…)

‘Butterfly Rainforest’ exhibit to close at 4 p.m. through Oct. 6

August 16th, 2016
Florida Museum of Natural History photo by Kristen Grace

Florida Museum of Natural History photo by Kristen Grace

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The “Butterfly Rainforest” exhibit at the Florida Museum of Natural History will close early at 4 p.m., with last admission at 3:30 p.m., beginning Wednesday through Oct. 6 for scheduled maintenance.

The exhibit also will be closed all day on Wednesday, Sept. 7, and Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2016, for installation and removal of scaffolding.

Chase Permann, Florida Museum facility coordinator for exhibits and public programs, said the work includes pressure washing, sanding, (more…)

Map of Life named among 2016 best teaching, learning apps

July 14th, 2016

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The American Association of School Libraries recently announced its 2016 list of the Best Apps for Teaching & Learning, including the interactive data-gathering application Map of Life created by a partnership between the University of Florida and Yale University.

Built on 100 years of knowledge, users can log, track and identify species from anywhere in the world thanks to a recording feature on the mobile app. Citizen scientists contribute to the biodiversity data available to scientists by (more…)

Free ‘Creative B’ movie series kicks off with ‘Mothra’ July 8

June 17th, 2016

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Florida Museum of Natural History will offer extended hours and free film screenings with panel discussions during July as part of the University of Florida Creative B program.

CreativeB_wordmark_sub_lrThe museum is also hosting an opening reception at 6 p.m. July 8 where attendees can meet and greet Creative B featured artist Nobuho Nagasawa prior to the discussion and viewing of “Mothra” (1961) at 7 p.m.

“Creative B is a unique opportunity to speak to experts in the fields of special effects, science and science fiction,” said Tiffany Ireland, Florida Museum educator. “It’s the main event of the summer.”

The museum also will show “Little Shop of Horrors” (1960) on July 15, “The (more…)

Director Doug Jones elected as American Alliance of Museums board chair

June 7th, 2016
Florida Museum Director Doug Jones. Florida Museum of Natural History photo by Kristen Grace

Florida Museum Director Doug Jones
Florida Museum of Natural History photo by Kristen Grace

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida Museum of Natural History Director Douglas Jones has been elected chair of the board for the American Alliance of Museums. His two-year term began at the conclusion of the organization’s 2016 annual meeting last week in Washington, D.C.

In his new role, Jones will help lead the organization’s programs related to museum accreditation, monitoring the fiscal health of AAM and implementing the group’s 2016-2020 strategic plan. He also will chair two annual meetings and participate in federal advocacy efforts around the country.

An AAM board member since 2012, Jones previously served as vice chair for 2015-2016.

“I’m honored to have been elected to serve in (more…)