ATHENS, Ga. — Centuries before modern countries such as Dubai and China started building islands, the Calusa Indians living in southwest Florida were piling shells into massive heaps to construct their own water-bound towns.
One island in particular, Mound Key, was the capital of the Calusa kingdom when Spanish explorers first set foot in the area. Supported in part by a grant from National Geographic, a new interdisciplinary study led by University of Georgia anthropologist Victor Thompson and (more…)
GAINESVILLE, Fla. —While the effects of marijuana, mushrooms and poison ivy are fairly well-known, many people may be surprised to learn about the potential danger of common plants in and around their homes.
And beginning May 14, Florida Museum of Natural History visitors will learn about the power that plants hold in its newest featured exhibit, “Wicked Plants: The Exhibit.”
The exhibit features more than 100 plants and is designed to educate guests about botanicals that are harmful to humans and animals, including evildoers lurking in the home and backyard. The story is brought to life inside an old home, where visitors will encounter a deadly dinner in the dining room, terrible toxins in the parlor, social misfits in the bathroom and (more…)
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — There is new hope for kids who spend their free time digging in their backyards in search of dinosaur bones, wishing they could be like the paleontologists from “Jurassic Park,” but maybe with a tamer outcome.
Florida Museum of Natural History and University of Florida researchers at the College of Education recently received a $1.2 million grant to provide 3-D scanners and printers, new laptop computers, and curriculum focused on science, technology, engineering and math for students in grades 6-12 in Florida and California.
“I don’t think this project would be successful without the collaboration of the College of Education and the museum,” said UF associate professor of educational technology and (more…)
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida Museum of Natural History curators emeritus Kathleen Deagan and Jerald Milanich were recently honored with 2015 lifetime achievement awards from the Southeastern Archaeological Conference for their many years of research on early American and Caribbean societies.
Deagan, Florida Museum distinguished curator emerita of historical archaeology, has discovered multiple archaeological sites in the St. Augustine area and uncovered new information about the role women played in early Spanish American and Caribbean societies.
As archaeology curator at the Florida Museum for 35 years, Milanich explored many sites throughout Florida, uncovering ancient artifacts that detail the everyday lives and (more…)
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Miami residents dodging sea-water spewing manhole covers take note: You’re not the first Floridians to deal with climate change.
That honor belongs to the state’s earliest residents, some of whom faced the problem 2,000 years ago and quickly learned how to adapt, a new University of Florida study shows.
The remains of Florida’s first climate-change resettlements offer important lessons from the past, just as rising seas again threaten the peninsula’s coastal populations, says a University of Florida scientist.
Targeting areas affected by rising seas after the last ice age, (more…)
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Florida Museum of Natural History recently announced the winners of the 2016 Austin Award and Bullen Award for student research and significant contributions to the development of museum collections and programs.
Biology graduate student Andrew Crowl received the Austin Award for his research on the evolution and biogeography of plants, particularly a group of rare Bellflowers restricted to the Mediterranean Basin called the Roucela complex.
Anthropology graduate student Meggan Blessing received the Bullen Award for her research on past human practices using modified bones from Stallings Island, Georgia, a shell-bearing site from the Late Archaic period, about 5,800 to 3,800 years ago.
Crowl collected Bellflower specimens throughout the Greek islands and (more…)
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The winning artists’ images ranging from nanoparticles to a Florida Harvester Ant will be recognized in an award ceremony at the University of Florida Marston Science Library on March 30 at 4:30 p.m.
The Elegance of Science contest was judged by a six-member committee from Gainesville’s art and science communities that evaluated 58 entries on their scientific and artistic merit.
“I look for the same things I would look for in art: appealing composition and color, visual interest and movement in the work, and intellectual intrigue,” said judge Ellen Knudson, (more…)
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — About 100 million years ago an infant lizard’s life was cut short when it crawled into a sticky situation.
The early chameleon was creeping through the ancient tropics of present-day Myanmar when it succumbed to the resin of a coniferous tree. Over time, the resin fossilized into amber, leaving the lizard remarkably preserved. Seventy-eight million years older than the previous oldest specimen on record, the dime-size chameleon along with 11 more ancient fossil lizards were pulled—encased in amber—from a mine decades ago, but it wasn’t until recently that scientists had the opportunity to analyze them.
In “Jurassic Park,” fictional scientists cloned dinosaurs with blood extracted from amber, but these real-life fossils hold snapshots of “missing links” in the evolutionary history of lizards that will allow scientists to gain a better understanding of where they fit on the tree of life, said Edward Stanley, a University of Florida postdoctoral researcher in herpetology at the Florida Museum of Natural History. (more…)
Editors note: An infographic follows this release.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — It’s the kind of record no one wants to break: the most shark attacks in a single year. But 2015 did just that, with 98 unprovoked attacks worldwide, beating the previous record of 88 set in 2000, according to the International Shark Attack File housed at the University of Florida.
Six of the attacks were fatal.
The all-time high came as no surprise to George Burgess, curator of the world’s clearinghouse of shark-attack data housed at the Florida Museum of Natural History on the UF campus. With shark populations rebounding and more and more people in the ocean, bites are inevitable, he says.
“Sharks plus humans equals attacks. As our population (more…)
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.