Austin, Bullen 2016 student research award winners named

March 24th, 2016
Biology graduate student Andrew Crowl received the Austin Award for 2016. Florida Museum of Natural History photo by Jeff Gage

Biology graduate student Andrew Crowl received the 2016 Austin Award.
Florida Museum of Natural History photo by Jeff Gage

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…)

Science photo contest winners to be honored March 30

March 21st, 2016
Bowfin (Amia calva), UF 18751

Zachary Randall’s image of a Bowfin won first place.

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…)

Is Alaska’s first new butterfly species in decades an ancient hybrid?

March 16th, 2016
Oeneis tanana female, dorsal (top) and ventral views.

This female Tanana Arctic butterfly, Oeneis tanana, showing the dorsal (top) and ventral wing patterns, was misidentified as a close relative for years before being recognized as a separate species. Florida Museum of Natural History photos by Andy Warren

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Some might say it takes a rare breed to survive the Alaska wilderness. The discovery of a possible new species of hybrid butterfly from the state’s interior is proving that theory correct.

Belonging to a group known as the Arctics, the Tanana Arctic, Oeneis tanana, is the first new butterfly species described from the Last Frontier in 28 years and may be its only endemic butterfly.

University of Florida lepidopterist Andrew Warren suggests the butterfly could be the result of a rare and unlikely hybridization between two related species, both specially adapted for the harsh arctic climate, perhaps before the last ice age. Details of the finding are available online today in the Journal of Research on the Lepidoptera. Digging deeper into the Tanana Arctic’s origins may reveal secrets about the geological history of arctic North America and (more…)

TEDxUF Club, museum to display portion of ‘Tree of Life’ March 11 from Century Tower

March 9th, 2016

Media Advisory

WHEN: Friday, March 11, 4 p.m.

WHO: The Florida Museum of Natural History and TEDxUF Club will lower a 140-foot-long printed portion of the ‘Tree of Life’ from the top of the University of Florida Century Tower. The complete tree including all 2.3 million named species on the planet would be 400 times longer. The display is a small representation of the tree and includes about 5,500 flowering plant species.

WHERE: University of Florida Century Tower, Corner of Newell Drive and Stadium Road east of Turlington Plaza, Gainesville, FL 32611

WHAT: The “Tree of Life” project is the key to understanding and recording all of Earth’s biodiversity. Scientists use the tree to monitor diseases, discover new medicines, improve and conserve field crops and measure the effect of climate change based on the interconnections between plants, animals and other organisms. Doug Soltis, a distinguished professor with appointments in the Florida Museum and UF’s biology department and Genetics Institute, and his team will discuss the work behind creating a map of Earth’s species to fuel future investigations and discoveries.

The Florida Museum will also present a pop-up station with different activities allowing visitors to explore the topic in greater detail from 3 to 6 p.m.

DETAILS: To browse the current “Tree of Life” online, visit www.etreeoflife.com or www.opentreeoflife.org.

-30-

Writer: Maria Espinoza, PRintern@flmnh.ufl.edu
Source: Douglas Soltis, dsoltis@botany.ufl.edu
Media contact: Paul Ramey, pramey@flmnh.ufl.edu, 352-273-2054

World’s oldest chameleon found trapped in amber fossil

March 4th, 2016
These ancient amber fossils from Myanmar in Southeast Asia provide a look at “missing links” in the evolutionary history of lizards. Photo courtesy of David Grimaldi

These ancient amber fossils from Myanmar in Southeast Asia provide a look at “missing links” in the evolutionary history of lizards. The chameleon is located in the far-right lower corner.
Photo courtesy of David Grimaldi

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…)

Celebrate geology during 10th ‘Can You Dig It?’ March 12

February 29th, 2016

Editors note: A complete list of activities follows this release

Florida Museum of Natural History visitors observe a simulated volcanic eruption. Florida Museum of Natural History photo by Kristen Grace

Florida Museum visitors observe a simulated volcanic eruption.
Florida Museum of Natural History photo by Kristen Grace

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Florida Museum of Natural History is celebrating its 10th year of volcanic eruptions and geological discoveries at “Can You Dig It?” March 12 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

This free, fun-for-all-ages event provides visitors an opportunity to uncover Earth’s geological wonders through hands-on activities and educational demonstrations.

Those who haven’t attended in recent years can look forward to new additions and changes. University of Florida geology professor Thomas Bianchi, who worked on the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, will lead an activity allowing participants to discover how chemistry is used to clean up these environmental accidents.

“As we continue to drill in deeper waters, it is important for people to look at some of the problems with deep sea drilling and challenges with cleanup,” Bianchi said.

Other returning favorites include the augmented reality sandbox, make your own earthquake and deep ocean drilling, where participants can sample their own “drill core.” (more…)

Summer, field camp registration begins March 15

February 29th, 2016
Catherine Carey, museum public programs coordinator, right, observes campers learning to distinguish a species belonging to the spiny lobster family during a 2013 summer camp. Florida Museum of Natural History photo by Kristen Grace

Students handle a species belonging to the spiny lobster family during a 2013 summer camp.
Florida Museum of Natural History photo by Kristen Grace

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Registration for Florida Museum of Natural History summer and field camps opens March 15, and includes a new “Lep Camp” this year for students in grades 5-8 to experience field collection, specimen preparation and the conservation of butterfly and moth specimens with museum scientists Aug. 1-5.

Pre-registration is required for all camps and is available online at www.flmnh.ufl.edu/summer-camps. Florida Museum members may register early beginning March 1.

With “Wicked Plants: The Exhibit” opening this summer, students enrolled in grades 1-4 for the 2016-2017 school year will have the opportunity to learn about some of Mother Nature’s most appalling creations during a “Botany Gone Bad” camp. Participants also can examine fossils, discover ancient cultures, learn about past and (more…)

Shark attacks hit all-time high in 2015

February 9th, 2016

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…)

‘Passport’ gala Feb. 19 to benefit educational programs

February 5th, 2016

16314 Passport FB 1 FNLGAINESVILLE, Fla. — Prepare for an island-hopping adventure and join the Florida Museum of Natural History for its annual “Passport” gala fundraiser Feb. 19 from 7 to 11 p.m. to support pre-K through 12th grade education programs.

Organized by the Florida Museum Associates Board, “Passport to Caribbean Nights” proceeds will help fund education initiatives including admission assistance for Title I schools, outreach to elementary classrooms and after-school programs, and funding for camp scholarships and the junior volunteer program.

“Children who visit the museum discover the excitement and wonder of science and of the natural world,” said Anne Shermyen, Florida Museum Associates Board vice president. “They also can experience history and learn of our diverse cultural heritage.”

Proceeds from last year’s event were used to bring more than 1,800 Alachua County fourth-grade students to the museum as part of a two-hour free program to visit the “First Colony: Our Spanish Origins” exhibit. The grant from the Florida Museum Associates Board covered (more…)

Museum reaches 500,000 digitized mollusks online, largest worldwide

February 5th, 2016
This jeweled topsnail, Calliostoma annulatum, from the San Juan Islands off the coast of Washington, is one of the species found in the Florida Museum’s digital catalog of more than 500,000 mollusk specimen records. The database includes about a third of the world’s 100,000 identified species. Florida Museum of Natural History photo by Gustav Paulay

This jeweled topsnail, Calliostoma annulatum, from the San Juan Islands off the coast of Washington, is one of the species in the Florida Museum’s digital catalog of mollusk specimen records.
Florida Museum of Natural History photo by Gustav Paulay

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.

“Researchers as well as the public may access the database and (more…)

Older Posts
Newer Posts