GAINESVILLE, Fla. — In the cover of night, an unseen war between bats and moths has been raging for 60 million years—and a new study suggests the insects have evolved long tails as a defense.
The collaborative work between University of Florida and Boise State University researchers is a first step in determining why bats are lured into striking a false target and could have implications on sonar development for the military, said study co-author Akito Kawahara, assistant curator of Lepidoptera at the Florida Museum of Natural History on the UF campus.
“This finding expands our knowledge of anti-predator deflection strategies and the extent of a long-standing evolutionary arms race between bats and moths,” Kawahara said.
The study appearing today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows luna moths spin their long hindtails as they fly, confusing the sonar cries bats use to image prey and other objects. Diversionary tactics, such as false eye spots and (more…)
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The ecosystems of the Adriatic Sea have weathered natural climate shifts for 125,000 years, but humans could be rapidly altering this historically stable biodiversity hot spot, a University of Florida study says.
The study details a major shift in bottom-dwelling species in Italy’s Po Basin, a region south of Venice known for its ecologically and commercially important shellfish as well as its tourism industry.
“The fossil record suggests that human activities can alter even those ecosystems that have been immune to major changes naturally occurring on our planet,” said the study’s lead author, Michal Kowalewski, the Thompson Chair of Invertebrate Paleontology at the Florida Museum of Natural History on the UF campus.
“We may be witnessing a permanent shift,” Kowalewski said. “This restructuring could have lasting consequences for regional biodiversity, including the overall health of the broader marine ecosystems of the Adriatic.”
Mollusks preserve well in the fossil record and (more…)
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Florida Museum of Natural History will host a free presentation with paleontologist Timothy Rowe at 7 p.m. Feb. 16 as part of the 2014-2015 Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholars Program.
Rowe will present a lecture titled “What Happened to the Dinosaurs?” at Powell Hall, 3215 Hull Road, on the University of Florida campus. His talk complements the museum’s current featured exhibition, “A T. rex Named Sue,” which presents the story of the largest, most complete and best-preserved Tyrannosaurus rex ever discovered. A reception will follow the presentation.
The J. Nalle Gregory Regents Professor of Geology at the University of Texas at Austin, Rowe primarily studies the evolution and (more…)
Early sign-up for museum members opens March 1
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Register your child beginning March 15 for adventures and scientific exploration at the Florida Museum of Natural History’s summer and field camps.
Students in grades 1-4 for the 2015-2016 school year can examine fossils, discover ancient cultures, learn about past and present ecosystems and meet some of the most interesting members of the animal kingdom during the weeklong camps that run June 8-July 31. Students in grades 5-6 may register for a field camp focusing on nature photography the week of Aug. 3.
“Museum camps are always an exciting and fun way to learn about everything from insects, collecting, engineering and chemistry to (more…)
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Students will have the opportunity to explore Florida habitats and learn how living things move during the Florida Museum of Natural History’s new series of spring break camps March 23-27.
The camps for students enrolled in grades K-5 for the 2014-2015 school year provide natural history exploration through museum exhibits and hands-on activities.
“Museum camps are a great way to channel your child’s spring fever,” said Florida Museum public programs coordinator Catherine Carey. “Here is a chance to learn about nature and have fun all at the same time.”
Pre-registration is required for all camps and (more…)
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Prepare for a dizzying race around the globe and join the Florida Museum of Natural History for a thrilling quest at the “Passport to: Around the World in 80 Days” gala Feb. 20 from 7 to 11 p.m.
This year’s event features dinner catered by Blue Water Bay, the ultimate voyage created by Keith Watson Productions and dancing with The Savants of Soul. This is the first year the gala is raising funds for children’s educational programming through the museum’s Center for Science Learning.
“We want to offer a variety of engaging opportunities that foster students’ sense of wonder and discovery,” said Betty Dunckel. Florida Museum Center for Science Learning director. “We hope these experiences will generate excitement, expand interests and deepen understanding of science and its importance in our daily lives.”
Proceeds will provide critical funds to support museum projects for pre-K through 12th-grade students, including admission assistance for Title 1 schools, outreach to elementary classrooms and (more…)
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Sharing caves with millions of bats, the Caribbean’s first humans may have driven some species of the winged mammals to extinction.
The new study appearing online today in Scientific Reports rejects previous research that directly connected climate change and the loss of land with the disappearance of bat populations.
Knowing when and how Caribbean bats went extinct could contribute to better understanding biodiversity and how to save modern-day wildlife from meeting the same fate, said co-author David Steadman, a University of Florida ornithologist.
“Ours are the first radiocarbon dates for bat fossils in the whole West Indies,” said Steadman, curator of ornithology at the Florida Museum of Natural History on the UF campus. “The new dates prove that certain bat populations were still in existence much later than previously thought — around the same time humans arrived.”
The new dates demonstrate that at least five species of bats withstood this climate change and (more…)
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Say “primate” and most people wouldn’t think of a tree-dwelling, squirrel-like creature that weighs no more than a deck of playing cards, but a new study suggests that may perfectly describe humans’ earliest primate ancestors.
Found in the same area of Montana that yielded the massive Tyrannosaurus rex, new ankle bones smaller than a penny provide the first fossil evidence that the oldest primates lived in trees.
That’s important because living in trees gave those early primates access to food sources that other species lacked – likely a critical factor in why primates succeeded in evolution where others may have failed.
The study appearing this week in the online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences describes the first bones below the skull of Purgatorius—previously known only by its teeth. The shape of the teeth allowed paleontologists to determine the tree shrew-like animal ate insects and (more…)
‘T. rex Named Sue’ Jan. 24 opening features fossils, family fun with Ronald McDonald, UF mascots Albert & AlbertaJanuary 16th, 2015
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Florida Museum of Natural History will celebrate the opening of its new featured exhibit “A T. rex Named Sue” from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 24 with family fun including a fossil dig and other dinosaur-themed activities.
Visitors will have the opportunity to interact with museum researchers and representatives from fossil clubs, sample McDonald’s iced coffee while meeting Ronald McDonald, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and see University of Florida mascots Albert and Alberta from noon to 1 p.m.
“Because our state was underwater while dinosaurs lived, this is a rare chance for Floridians to glimpse the lost world of Tyrannosaurus rex right here in Gainesville,” said Florida Museum educator Tiffany Ireland. “It’s also important for children to speak with scientists and (more…)
Editors: Press materials are available at www.flmnh.ufl.edu/pressroom/a-t-rex-named-sue/.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The world’s dinosaur “Sue”-perstar returns to the Florida Museum of Natural History on Jan. 24, 2015, in the featured exhibition “A T. rex Named Sue.”
This bilingual exhibit presents the story of “Sue,” the largest, most complete and best-preserved Tyrannosaurus rex ever unearthed. It features a life-size, 42-foot-long cast of the dinosaur and family-friendly interactive components exploring the paleontology that has helped scientists reconstruct Sue’s life and legacy.
In 2002, the Florida Museum was the state’s first venue to host the traveling exhibit, which has been seen by more than 20 million visitors worldwide.
“A whole generation of kids has been born since ‘Sue’ was last here, and (more…)