Summer, field camp registration begins March 15

February 19th, 2014

Early sign-up for museum members opens March 1

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A summer camp participant uses clay to create a leaf imprint.
Florida Museum photo by Kristen Grace

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Register your child beginning March 15 for discovery and exploration at the Florida Museum of Natural History summer and field camps.

Students in grades 1-6 for the 2014-2015 school year can investigate natural history, examine fossils, discover ancient cultures and meet some of the most interesting members of the animal kingdom during the weeklong camps that run June 9 through Aug. 1.

“Museum camps are always educational and fun,” said Florida Museum of Natural History public programs coordinator Catherine Carey. “This summer, campers will learn about everything from great inventions and archaeology to wolves and dogs in our new temporary exhibit, ‘Wolf to Woof: The Story of Dogs.’”

Morning, afternoon and full-day sessions are available for summer camps. Students in grades 5-6 may register for field camps focusing on Florida archaeology and (more…)

UF reports fewer shark attacks in 2013, above-average fatalities worldwide

February 17th, 2014

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The world experienced the lowest number of shark attacks since 2009, although fatalities in 2013 were above average, according to the University of Florida’s International Shark Attack File report released today.

The U.S. saw a decrease in attacks with 47, lower than the 2012 total of 54, which was the highest yearly total of the current century. There were 10 fatalities worldwide, which is higher than the 10-year average from 2003-2012. Two localities, Western Australia (six deaths in past four years) and Reunion Island (five deaths in three years) in the southwest Indian Ocean, remained shark-attack hot spots, while places where shark activity is typically rare or nonexistent also experienced attacks, said George Burgess, curator of the file (more…)

UF receives $1.97 million NSF grant to develop paleontology network

February 10th, 2014

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…)

Museum to celebrate new ‘Wolf to Woof’ dog exhibit Feb. 22

February 6th, 2014

0e1632871_wolf-2-woof-logo.jpgGAINESVILLE, Fla. — On Feb. 22 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. the Florida Museum of Natural History is answering the age-old question of “Who let the dogs out?” with the celebration of its newest temporary exhibit, “Wolf to Woof: The Story of Dogs.”

The free, family-friendly event includes demonstrations by Pepe Dogs detection dogs and agility demonstrations by the Greater Ocala Dog Club. Visitors also will have the opportunity to speak with representatives from Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Park, Alachua County Animal Services, Patriot PAWS, University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, Florida Museum and more.

“This event is an excellent opportunity for the student (more…)

Nearly 500 paleontologists to attend international meeting Feb. 15-18

January 30th, 2014

500x226xNAPC_logo_large.png.pagespeed.icGAINESVILLE, 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…)

Register now for K-5 spring break camps March 24-28

January 29th, 2014

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Students will have the opportunity to investigate life on the farm and immerse themselves in theatrical magic with the Florida Museum of Natural History through its newest series of spring break camps March 24-28.

These camps for students enrolled in grades K-5 for the 2013-2014 school year provide natural history exploration through museum exhibits and hands-on activities.

“Parents are always looking for fun and educational activities to do with children over the holidays,” said Florida Museum of Natural History public programs coordinator Catherine Carey. “Spring break camps at the museum are a perfect example of what to do to have happy campers at the house.”

Pre-registration is required for all camps and is available on the Florida Museum website at

In the morning students will get “Down on the Farm” by learning more about domestic animals and (more…)

Feb. 9 film tells life story of nature, conservation advocate ‘Ding’ Darling

January 13th, 2014
Autographed portrait of Darling with his pipe.  Beloit College Archives.

This autographed portrait of Darling with his pipe is used courtesy of the Beloit College Archives.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Visitors will have the opportunity to discover the great American story of an artist who changed the face of conservation education and preservation in the screening of “America’s Darling: The Story of Jay N. ‘Ding’ Darling” at the Florida Museum of Natural History Feb. 9 at 2 p.m.

The movie depicts the life of Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist and wildlife advocate Jay Norwood Darling (1876-1962), who was appointed by President Franklin Roosevelt as the head of what would later become the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Darling later helped found the National Wildlife Federation.

Though Darling took on national issues, his story touches Florida in a special way. The “J.N. ‘Ding’ Darling National Wildlife Refuge” on Sanibel Island was named in his honor and (more…)

Study: Seashell loss due to tourism increase may have global impact

January 8th, 2014
These Donax trueloides shells from the Florida Museum collections are the same type of seashells found on the Mediterranean coast of Spain where researchers surveyed a small stretch of shoreline.  Florida Museum photo by Jeff Gage

These Donax trueloides shells from the Florida Museum collections are the same type of seashells found on the Mediterranean coast of Spain where researchers surveyed a small stretch of shoreline.
Florida Museum photo by Jeff Gage

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Global tourism has increased fourfold over the last 30 years, resulting in human-induced seashell loss that may harm natural habitats worldwide, according to a University of Florida scientist.

Appearing in the journal PLOS ONE today, the new study by researchers from the Florida Museum of Natural History on the UF campus and the University of Barcelona demonstrates that increased tourism on the Mediterranean coast of Spain correlated with a 70 percent decrease in mollusk shells during the tourist season in July and August and a 60 percent decrease in other months. Scientists fear shell removal could cause significant damage to natural ecosystems and organisms that rely on shells, said lead author Michal Kowalewski, the Thompson Chair of Invertebrate Paleontology at the Florida Museum.

“This research is best described as a case study that evaluates shell loss due to tourism and (more…)

Museum of Natural History to hold volunteer orientation Jan. 22

December 24th, 2013

Charlie Hall

Museum docent Charles Hall answers a visitor’s question in the Central Gallery.
Florida Museum photo by Kristen Grace

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Whether needing hours for a scholarship, wanting to spend time serving others, or having an interest in lifelong learning, the Florida Museum of Natural History has volunteer opportunities for everyone.

The museum will hold an orientation session Jan. 22 from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. where prospective adult volunteers ages 18 and older may learn about the different opportunities available.

“Volunteering is a great way to interact with the public, expand your knowledge and use experiences you already have,” said Florida Museum volunteer coordinator Amy Hester.

Florida Museum docent Charles Hall describes volunteering as a great way to spend his time with a rewarding return.

Hall started volunteering at the museum two years ago after his wife of 62 years died. He volunteers five days a week giving visitor tours and (more…)

Museum announces 2014 spring ‘Science Café’ programs

December 23rd, 2013

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Florida Museum of Natural History will continue its “Science Café” series Jan. 13, 2014, with University of Florida anthropology professor Connie Mulligan discussing “The First Settlers of the New World: Who, Where, When and How.”

This is the third year of the program in which guest speakers and community members gather at local establishments and discuss contemporary science over food. Seating and food orders begin at 6 p.m. with the program starting at 6:30 p.m.

“Our spring series features a variety of topics from the first settlers in the New World to bird intelligence and fossils of Panama,” said Betty Dunckel, director of the Florida Museum’s Center for Science Learning.

The Jan. 13 program at Saboré, 13005 SW First Road, Suite 129 in Town of Tioga, features Mulligan, who will describe how her work on human genetic variation is used to reconstruct who the first settlers in the New World were, and (more…)

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