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 http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/events/camps/school-holiday/.

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…)

Study: Some plants may not adapt quickly to future climate change

December 23rd, 2013
Pam and Doug Soltis, co-authors in new study published in the journal Nature are pictured with various flowering plants. Florida Museum of Natural History photo by Eric Zamora

Florida Museum researchers Pam and Doug Soltis, co-authors in a new study published in the journal Nature are pictured with various flowering plants.
Florida Museum of Natural History photo by Eric Zamora

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Using the largest dated evolutionary tree of flowering plants ever assembled, a new study suggests how plants developed traits to withstand low temperatures, with implications that human-induced climate change may pose a bigger threat than initially thought to plants and global agriculture.

The study appearing Sunday (Dec. 22) in the journal Nature and co-authored by University of Florida scientists shows many angiosperms, or flowering plants, evolved mechanisms to cope with freezing temperatures as they radiated into nearly every climate during pre-historic times. Researchers found the plants likely acquired many of these adaptive traits prior to their movement into colder regions. The study also suggests some modern angiosperms, including most flowering plants, trees and agricultural crops, may not have the traits needed to rapidly respond to human-induced climate change, said study co-author Pam Soltis, a distinguished professor and curator of molecular systematics and evolutionary genetics at the Florida Museum on the UF campus. (more…)

Museum lets the dogs out in ‘Wolf to Woof’ exhibit opening Feb. 15

December 23rd, 2013

W2W logoGAINESVILLE, Fla. — Visitors will soon be able to uncover the mysteries of man’s best friend at the Florida Museum of Natural History’s new temporary exhibit, “Wolf to Woof: The Story of Dogs,” opening Feb. 15, 2014.

“Wolf to Woof” is the largest and most comprehensive traveling exhibit on the history, biology and evolution of dogs. It shows how dogs have secured a special place in human society as an incredibly diverse and versatile species that serves as hunters, herders, guards and companions.

“The canine/human relationship is something so special and unique in nature,” said Tina Choe, Florida Museum exhibit developer. “As a dog owner, I am thrilled to share this experience with our visitors.”

The exhibit reveals an in-depth history of dogs and (more…)

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