Museum hosts four school holiday camps Dec. 23-Jan. 17

December 2nd, 2013

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — This winter break students can ring in the holiday season with scientific exploration and natural history investigation during the Florida Museum of Natural History’s school holiday camps beginning Dec. 23 through Jan. 17, 2014.

The 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.

“Holiday camps are always an opportunity to have fun while learning about something new – whether it’s engineering feats or how prehistoric people managed day-to-day living,” said Florida Museum of Natural History public programs coordinator Catherine Carey. “Museum camps are hands-on and sometimes messy, but always fun.”

“Float My Boat” on Dec. 23 will dive into engineering principles while students learn to construct a plane, float a boat and (more…)

UF students get free admission, chance to win a scooter at Florida Museum

November 20th, 2013

Florida Museum of Natural History photo by Jeff Gage

Florida Museum of Natural History photo by Jeff Gage

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida students visiting the Florida Museum of Natural History can now save money with free admission and a scooter giveaway.

Sponsored by UF Student Government, students with a valid Gator 1 card receive free admission to the Butterfly Rainforest and other fee-based exhibits year-round.

“Granting students free access to paid exhibits supports the fact that we’re an educational facility,” said Jeff Hansen, Florida Museum coordinator of operations and visitor services “It is our hope that more UF students will learn of our facility and utilize it.”

Additionally, Party 99.5 FM and the Florida Museum are hosting a drawing for a new, fully equipped scooter between Nov. 15 and Dec. 5 courtesy of Southern Scooters and (more…)

Museum Megalodon jaw to be displayed in new Panama Biomuseo

November 15th, 2013
Florida Museum of Natural History staff prepare the jaw of a Megalodon shark for shipment to the Biomuseo in Panama. Florida Museum of Natural History photo by Jeff Gage

Florida Museum of Natural History staff prepare the jaw of a Megalodon shark for shipment to the Biomuseo in Panama.
Florida Museum of Natural History photo by Jeff Gage

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Florida Museum of Natural History recently shipped the jaws of a Megalodon shark to Panama for display in the Biomuseo, a new science museum scheduled to open next year.

The specimen arrived in Panama in October as part of a long-term loan to the new natural history museum, expected to open during the first quarter of 2014. Florida Museum vertebrate paleontology curator Bruce MacFadden said the facility, located along the Panama Canal and designed by architect Frank Gehry, will be a world-class public exhibit space showcasing the country’s biodiversity and natural history. (more…)

15th annual Trashformations showcase to be held Nov. 22

November 1st, 2013

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — For some Alachua County students, trash doesn’t equate to garbage, but instead may be morphed into creative works of art. The Florida Museum of Natural History will display these artistic creations during the 15 annual Trashformations showcase Nov. 22 from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.

The Trashformations recycled art show and competition is open to middle school, high school and college students. All entries are constructed from 70 percent or more recycled material and judged on the criteria of “most creative expression” and “most innovative use of recycled materials.”

“This event helps you look at recyclables in a new way,” said Florida Museum educator Tiffany Ireland. “It’s always interesting how someone turns milk jugs into an ibis or cans into an owl. This is an opportunity for us to showcase our local, young talent. Every year you always get wowed by something.”

Students in each division compete for cash and other prizes and (more…)

Murdering, tyrant plants topic of final fall ‘Science Café’ Nov. 11

October 30th, 2013

Grant Godden preparing an RNA extraction from a species of mint. Photo by Angelica Cibrian-Jaramillo, National Laboratory of Genomics for Biodiversity in Mexico.

Grant Godden prepares an RNA extraction from a species of mint.
Photo by Angelica Cibrian-Jaramillo, Mexico National Laboratory of Genomics for Biodiversity.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Liars, crooks, murderers and tyrants­ find out more about plants and how they evolve to compete for resources at the Florida Museum of Natural History’s next “Science Café” on Monday, Nov. 11.

The final “Science Café” of the fall series will be held at 6:30 p.m. at Saboré, 13005 SW First Road, Suite 129 in Town of Tioga. University of Florida department of biology and Florida Museum of Natural History doctoral candidate Grant Godden will discuss “Despicable Plants: A Botanical World of Liars, Crooks, Murderers and Tyrants.”

“My ‘Science Café’ explores the origins and evolution of seemingly sinister strategies such as fraud, theft, murder and oppression,” Godden said. “It draws from numerous botanical examples of despicable plants. These include deceptive orchids, parasitic witchweeds, and carnivorous and allelopathic plants.”

The program format provides a comfortable setting for community members and (more…)

Observe night sky during free ‘Starry Night’ program Nov. 15

October 16th, 2013

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida Museum of Natural History visitors will have an opportunity to tour the universe with astronomy experts during the seventh annual Starry Night event, from 6 to 10 p.m. Nov. 15.

Starry Night

Astronomers lead visitors in stargazing during a past event.
Florida Museum of Natural History photo by Jeff Gage

Free, space-themed activities include a portable planetarium show and the opportunity to view the universe in 3D as well as rocks from space including a 70-pound meteorite.

Outside, visitors may gaze at the moon, planets and stars through professional quality telescopes and learn about the night sky with members of the Alachua Astronomy Club and UF astronomy department. (more…)

Museum ‘Science Café’ Oct. 28 to focus on shellfish aquaculture industry

October 15th, 2013
Leslie Sturmer examines Sunray Venus Clams. UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones

Leslie Sturmer examines Sunray Venus Clams.
UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Cedar Key shellfish aquaculture industry is the topic for discussion at the Florida Museum of Natural History’s next “Science Café” program Oct. 28 at Blue Gill Quality Foods, 1310 SW 13th St. in Gainesville.

State shellfish extension agent Leslie Sturmer will discuss “Farming the Sea: The Cedar Key Story” beginning at 6:30 p.m.

“When Florida’s commercial fishing businesses were declining, University of Florida and Florida Sea Grant collaborated with other entities to build a new hard clam aquaculture industry near Cedar Key, where about 80 percent of Florida’s clam farming now occurs,” Sturmer said. “The industry has a statewide economic impact of over $50 million, supporting more than 550 jobs in Cedar Key alone.” (more…)

New study of Panama shark, ray fossils sheds light on ancient ocean connections

October 14th, 2013
Pimiento measuring tooth

Lead researcher Catalina Pimiento measures a shark tooth at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.
Florida Museum of Natural History photo by Jeff Gage

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A new study led by University of Florida researchers provides evidence of an interchange between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans nine to 11 million years ago despite the ongoing formation of the Isthmus of Panama.

Seeking to provide the most complete description to date of 10-million-year-old shark and ray fossils in an outcrop on the Caribbean side of Panama, the researchers identified species that today are restricted to the Pacific Ocean, suggesting the oceans were connected at the time. The study appears in the current issue of the Journal of Paleontology.

The research has significant implications for the evolutionary history of sharks and possibly other marine animals, said lead researcher Catalina Pimiento, a doctoral candidate at the Florida Museum of Natural History on the UF campus. (more…)

Three streaming webcams added to Butterfly Rainforest

October 9th, 2013
This still image was taken from the feeding station webcam in the Butterfly Rainforest exhibit.

This still image was taken from the feeding station webcam in the Butterfly Rainforest exhibit.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The University of Florida’s Butterfly Rainforest exhibit may now be viewed worldwide via three streaming content cameras available on the Florida Museum of Natural History website.

Visitors may view links to all camera feeds at http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/critter-cams/. The feeds include the overall exhibit on the overhead canopy camera as well as up-close views of a (more…)

Swallow-tailed Kite exhibit opens Oct. 12

September 27th, 2013
Photo by Jim Gray

Photo by jimgrayimages.com

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The story and beauty of the Swallow-tailed Kites’ annual 10,000-mile round-trip migration from Florida to South America is the subject of a new Florida Museum of Natural History exhibit opening Oct. 12.

Through paint, pictures and poetry, artist Margo McKnight and Ken Meyer of the Avian Research and Conservation Institute tell the tale of the fascinating journey and complex lives of these rare and beautiful birds of prey in the exhibit “A Swallow-tailed Kite’s 10,000-mile Journey: A Black and White Odyssey.”

“I undertook this project to simply introduce this amazing bird to a new audience,” McKnight said. “Awareness is the very first step and can turn into intention, which in turn can move people to action. Just one step can make a difference.”

Due to a sharp decline in the number of Swallow-tailed Kites over the last century, the (more…)

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