GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Florida Museum of Natural History is seeking students ages 12-17 for its junior volunteer program. Applications are available starting Monday and must be returned by April 5.
Junior volunteers participate in various activities with different museum departments, including sorting and preserving specimens in the McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity collections, interacting with the public in the Butterfly Rainforest and others exhibits and working as a camp education assistant
The program’s popularity has increased its competitiveness and interested youth are encouraged to apply early. New applicants are selected based on their interview, experience and availability. Preference is given to experienced junior volunteers invited to return.
New applicants are required to interview April 27-28 and all junior volunteers must attend a mandatory training session June 2. Volunteers are required to work morning or afternoon shifts for two consecutive weeks. (more…)
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Spend a day watching volcanic eruptions and sifting for gems, minerals and other treasures at the Florida Museum of Natural History and University of Florida Department of Geological Sciences’ seventh annual “Can You Dig It?” event from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, March 16.
This free, family-friendly event is sponsored by the University of Florida’s Department of Geological Sciences and the Florida Museum in collaboration with Geohazards Inc., Creative Environmental Solutions Inc. and Kimley-Horn and Associates Inc. and features many hands-on activities.
Attendees will learn many different aspects of geology, from why some volcanoes erupt explosively, while others do not, to how scientists study the ocean floor.
“We’ve once again added some new activities this year,” said Matt Smith, lecturer for the UF department of geological sciences. “We really want to get people–especially kids– out to see what geology is all about. Lots of kids don’t know what geologists actually do, so every year we try to mix it up and make the event better.”
New activities this year include investigating how groundwater flows and shapes the earth’s surface, discovering how increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere can threaten the ocean’s coral reefs and using a computer and 3-D camera to create real-time images of landscapes made in a sandbox. (more…)
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida paleontologists have discovered remarkably well-preserved fossils of two crocodilians and a mammal previously unknown to science during recent Panama Canal excavations that began in 2009.
The two new ancient extinct alligator-like animals and an extinct hippo-like species inhabited Central America during the Miocene about 20 million years ago. The research expands the range of ancient animals in the subtropics — some of the most diverse areas today about which little is known historically because lush vegetation prevents paleontological excavations — and may be used to better understand how climate change affects species dispersal today. The two studies appear online today in the same issue of the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.
The fossils shed new light on scientists’ understanding of species distribution because they represent a time before the formation of the Isthmus of Panama, when the continents of North and South America were separated by oceanic waters. (more…)
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Discover Juan Ponce de Leon’s life and times as a Spanish explorer and his 1513 arrival in the state at the Florida Museum of Natural History’s “Science Café” March 12.
The event from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at Chef Brothers Custom Catering, 5240 NW 34th St. (across from the YMCA), includes a limited, Florida-themed menu for participants. Kathleen Deagan, Florida Museum distinguished research curator of historical archaeology, will describe the daily life and times of Ponce de Leon before he came to Florida, and how he became governor of Puerto Rico and Florida.
“I hope people will come away with a better understanding of the origins of the Spanish settlement in the Americas,” Deagan said. “I also hope they leave with a better understanding of the conditions of life for the earliest settlers as well as the reality of being a ‘conquistador.’ ” (more…)
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A University of Florida study on louse evolution shows the parasite’s genetic structure differs based on geographic region, information essential for developing more effective insecticides.
Hundreds of millions of head louse infestations affect children worldwide every year and numbers continue to rise, partly due to resistance to insecticidal shampoos. The study appearing online in the journal PLOS One today is the first to analyze nuclear genetic variation of head lice, providing a more complete evolutionary history of the parasite. Understanding genetic structure worldwide allows researchers to make insecticides tailored to a particular population, because control methods effective in one region may not be successful in others.
“Insect populations will develop resistance to insecticides in different ways and to create an effective management plan, you need to take into consideration the genetic profiles of these populations (more…)
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Florida Museum of Natural History and UF Office of Sustainability will present a free screening of the award-winning documentary “The Clean Bin Project” Feb. 27 at 7 p.m. at the museum.
Filmmakers Grant Baldwin Jen Rustemeyer will answer questions after the film, which chronicles their yearlong competition to buy no material goods and produce as little waste as possible while examining the larger issue of garbage in North America.
“There are very few family friendly events that deal with important issues in our society like waste and the environment in a way that is insightful, entertaining and empowering for all ages,” said Florida Museum education assistant Tiffany Ireland. (more…)
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Turn your time circuits on and travel “Back to the Future” at the Florida Museum of Natural History’s annual “Passport” gala Feb. 22 Gala. Proceeds will help construct a permanent Discovery Room at the museum.
Admission is $100 for the event, part of a three-year campaign to raise $1 million to create a 2,000-square-foot innovative, permanent Discovery Room where families can engage in hands-on science activities. The museum raised more than $400,000 during the first year of the campaign.
“It is very important to the Florida Museum to create a place for children that fosters critical thinking, collaboration and creativity, and the Discovery Room does that,” said Leslie Ladendorf, museum assistant director of development and membership. “We want to develop a space for families to interact and learn together.”
“The Discovery Room provides a safe, fun and engaging place for families to explore and learn together about the natural world and more intimately connect to the museum’s collections,” said Jaret Daniels, Florida Museum assistant director for exhibits and public programs. (more…)
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A new study co-authored by University of Florida researchers shows cloud forests in southern Mexico and northern Central America – among the most threatened habitats worldwide – require more specialized conservation than previously believed.
Cloud forests occur in mountainous regions and provide water downstream to towns and regions for healthy functioning of surrounding ecosystems. In northern Mesoamerica, which includes southern Mexico and Guatemala, 50 percent of original cloud forest habitat has been destroyed and it occupies less than 1 percent of the total geographic area today. Using DNA markers and computer programs designed to reconstruct the past, an international team of scientists determined that while populations of plant and animal species endemic to these forests have similar geographic distributions today, they show diverse patterns of genetic differentiation among their populations, reflecting differing past evolutionary histories. (more…)
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Shark attacks in the U.S. reached a decade high in 2012, while worldwide fatalities remained average, according to the University of Florida’s International Shark Attack File report released today.
The U.S. saw an upturn in attacks with 53, the most since 2000. There were seven fatalities worldwide, which is lower than 2011 but higher than the yearly average of 4.4 from 2001 to 2010. It is the second consecutive year for multiple shark attacks in Western Australia (5) and Reunion Island (3) in the southwest Indian Ocean, which indicates the localities have developed problematic situations, said George Burgess, director of the file housed at the Florida Museum of Natural History on the UF campus.
“Those two areas are sort of hot spots in the world – Western Australia is a function of white shark incidents and Reunion is a function most likely of bull shark incidents,” Burgess said. “What I’ve seen in all situations when there’s been a sudden upswing in an area is that human-causative factors are involved, such as changes in our behavior, changes in our abundance, or an overt shark-attracting product of something that we’re doing.” (more…)
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — An international team of scientists including University of Florida researchers has generated the most comprehensive tree of life to date on placental mammals, which are those bearing live young, including bats, rodents, whales and humans.
Appearing Thursday in the journal Science, the study details how researchers used both genetic and physical traits to reconstruct the common ancestor of placental mammals, the creature that gave rise to many mammals alive today. The data show that contrary to a commonly held theory, the group diversified after the extinction of dinosaurs 65 million years ago. The research may help scientists better understand how mammals survived past climate change and how they may be impacted by future environmental conditions. (more…)