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. — 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. — 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. — University of Florida students visiting the Florida Museum of Natural History can now save money with free admission and a scooter giveaway.
Sponsored by UF Student Government, students with a valid Gator 1 card receive free admission to the Butterfly Rainforest and other fee-based exhibits year-round.
“Granting students free access to paid exhibits supports the fact that we’re an educational facility,” said Jeff Hansen, Florida Museum coordinator of operations and visitor services “It is our hope that more UF students will learn of our facility and utilize it.”
Additionally, Party 99.5 FM and the Florida Museum are hosting a drawing for a new, fully equipped scooter between Nov. 15 and Dec. 5 courtesy of Southern Scooters and (more…)
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Florida Museum of Natural History recently shipped the jaws of a Megalodon shark to Panama for display in the Biomuseo, a new science museum scheduled to open next year.
The specimen arrived in Panama in October as part of a long-term loan to the new natural history museum, expected to open during the first quarter of 2014. Florida Museum vertebrate paleontology curator Bruce MacFadden said the facility, located along the Panama Canal and designed by architect Frank Gehry, will be a world-class public exhibit space showcasing the country’s biodiversity and natural history. (more…)
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — For some Alachua County students, trash doesn’t equate to garbage, but instead may be morphed into creative works of art. The Florida Museum of Natural History will display these artistic creations during the 15 annual Trashformations showcase Nov. 22 from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
The Trashformations recycled art show and competition is open to middle school, high school and college students. All entries are constructed from 70 percent or more recycled material and judged on the criteria of “most creative expression” and “most innovative use of recycled materials.”
“This event helps you look at recyclables in a new way,” said Florida Museum educator Tiffany Ireland. “It’s always interesting how someone turns milk jugs into an ibis or cans into an owl. This is an opportunity for us to showcase our local, young talent. Every year you always get wowed by something.”
Students in each division compete for cash and other prizes and (more…)
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The University of Florida’s Butterfly Rainforest exhibit may now be viewed worldwide via three streaming content cameras available on the Florida Museum of Natural History website.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida Museum of Natural History researchers have co-authored the first comprehensive study on the evolution of two agricultural pests commonly used as model organisms.
Tobacco and tomato hornworms are among the largest caterpillars, able to individually devastate an entire plant if left unchecked. Despite their use in many fields of biology, the relationships of these hawkmoths have been confused for more than 50 years. The study published online May 3 and scheduled for the September 2013 print edition of Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution shows they are not as closely related as previously believed, providing a new baseline for determining correct classifications within the group, said lead author Akito Kawahara, assistant curator of Lepidoptera at the Florida Museum of Natural History on the University of Florida campus.
“When people make decisions about these species, they can’t assume that they are most closely related – there are other species in between that we (more…)