Into the Darkness: Research and Conservation of Cave Organisms Across the Globe

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On Saturday, September 28, the MSNH hosted a presentation series on research and conservation of cave organisms at the Richard Gilder Graduate School of the American Museum of Natural History. Dr. Ariadna Morales, a postdoctoral researcher from the American Museum of Natural History, discussed her research on bats and how bats play an important role in regulating insects. Callie Crawford, a Ph.D. student from the New Jersey Institute of Technology, talked about her research on cave fish in Thailand and how these fish use specialized structures to walk up waterfalls. Han Vo and Lam Ngo, members of the Vietnamese organization, Save Son Doong, talked about the fascinating geology, biological diversity and history of Son Doong Cave. Son Doong Cave is located at the center of Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park in Quang Binh Province, Vietnam and is listed as a UNESCO's world heritage site. The cave is the world's largest and has remained untouched since its formation 5 million years ago. However, for the past 5 years, the cave has been threatened by a mass tourism cable car project which would bring more than 1 million visitors annually into the cave and severely impact its biological diversity. Save Son Doong is a grass-roots organization trying to protect the cave by raising the public awareness.

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A special thank you to Ariadna, Callie, Han and Lam for the great presentations and to the Richard Gilder Graduate School for providing space for us to host this event.

To view more photos from this event, please visit our gallery. All photo credit goes to Harald Parzer.

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Dr. Ariadna Morales is a Gerstner Postdoctoral Scholar at the American Museum of Natural History in the Department of Mammalogy studying speciation and convergent evolution of bats. Dr. Morales received her Ph.D. in Evolution, Ecology and Organismal Biology from The Ohio State University in 2018. She studies the bat genus Myotis, the only group of bats that has colonized all five continents and repeatedly evolved three foraging strategies. Her research integrates cutting-edge genomic tools and morphometric and environmental approaches to study the evolutionary mechanism that promote species diversity and morphological convergence.

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Callie Crawford is a Ph.D. candidate in the Brooke Flammang Lab in the Department of Biological Sciences at the New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark, New Jersey. She is studying the biomechanics of terrestrial walking in hillstream loache fish in an evolutionary context. Loache fishes have a pelvic morphology which converge on some features of tetrapods (the group of animals with four limbs) allowing for tetrapod-like walking. Using muscular and skeletal morphology, biomechanics (EMG, Kinematics, and force transmission), and biorobotics, her research will inform our understanding of mechanisms underlying the convergent evolution of morphological innovation. Her work is part of the NSF funded Rules of Life initiative, Phylogenomically-Based Bioinspired Robotic Model Approach to Address the Evolution of Terrestrial Locomotion.

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Save Son Doong (SSD) organization started as a grassroots initiative that has tried to protect the world’s largest cave, Son Doong cave, in central Vietnam when it was subjected to corporate exploitation. Their approaches to save the cave are to raise awareness and educate the public about the cave's scientific values, its sensitive ecosystem, and the potential harm of mass tourism on this place and to advocate among Vietnamese citizens as well as the international communities (UNESCO & other iNGO's, foreign embassies in Vietnam, etc.) to push for regulations against mass tourism into the core zone of this World Natural Heritage site. Two representatives from SSD, Han Vo and Lam Ngo, will discuss the efforts of their organization. Vo is among 7 founding members of SSD. He holds a bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering from the National University of Singapore. In 2018, he was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship from the US government to pursue a Master’s Degree in International Development at Clark University, Massachusetts. His work involves nature conservation and monitoring and evaluation of foreign-aid programs. Ngo is the youngest member of SSD and has been an active member since its founding. She is currently enrolled as an undergraduate studying Mathematics at Sewanee: The University of The South. Recently, she also completed a 6-month intensive internship at the American Museum of Natural History in NYC. Her professional interests include cave biology, nature conservation, and biodiversity informatics.

Resources

To learn more about Ariadna Morales and her research, visit her website or follow her on Twitter: @_AriadnaMorales.

You can also follow Callie Crawford @CallieHCrawford.

To follow Son Doong Cave, support their cause, and find further information: please follow their official page on Facebook or their website (only available in Vietnamese). If your are interested in purchasing t-shirts, please contact Lam Ngo directly (ngol0@sewanee.edu).






Guided Arthropod Night Hike to Mt. Beacon with arachnologist, Dr. Stephanie Loria

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On Saturday, September 24, the MSNH joined arachnologist, Dr. Stephanie Loria on a guided night hike to Mount Beacon in the Hudson Valley. The evening began at the base of Mount Beacon where Stephanie explained to us the four major groups of arthropods (Insecta, Chelicerata, Myripoda and Crustacea) and showed us specific characteristics on how to identify them. She also demonstrated different collecting techniques that biologists use to collect arthropods including vegetation beating, sifting and hand collecting, which participants were able to try. We then slowly hiked up to the overlook on the mountain, making stops along the way to look for arthropods. Once there, Stephanie showed us some spider and millipede specimens from her teaching collection and discussed how to sex them and recognize characteristics of specific groups. Just after sunset, we slowly trekked back down the mountain to observe some of the arthropod night activity including spider web spinning and insect foraging.

To view more photos from this event, please visit our gallery. All photo credit goes to Lam Ngo.

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Dr. Stephanie Loria is president and co-founder of the MSNH and postdoctoral researcher in the Scorpion Systematics Research Group at the American Museum of Natural History. She received her B.S. in 2011 at Sewanee: The University of the South and completed her Ph.D. in 2015 at the Richard Gilder Graduate School of the American Museum of Natural History. Since completing her Ph.D., she served as an adjunct instructor at SUNY: College at Old Westbury, a postdoc in the Arachnology Lab at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco and a visiting researcher at the Centrum für Naturkunde at the Universität Hamburg in Hamburg, Germany. Dr. Loria's research focuses on the diversity and evolution of scorpions and millipedes and she has traveled across the globe for fieldwork and to work with historic collections in natural history museums.

Resources

Arachnology Lab Group at the American Museum of Natural History

A helpful user-based identification tool for identifying critters in your house: Bug Guide

Great website for amateurs and student resources for learning how to identify millipedes: Milli-PEET

Spring Birding in Central Park with Luke Musher

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On Sunday, May 19, in the early morning hours, Luke Musher, ornithologist and Ph.D. student from the Richard Gilder Graduate School of the American Museum of Natural History, led the MSNH on a free guided bird walk through Central Park to see spring migrants. Using our eyes and ears, we observed 39 species during the walk. Some notable birds spotted include a female Scarlet Tanager, Blackpoll Warbler, and Swainson’s Thrush. Below is a complete list of birds sighted or heard during the walk.

Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)  8
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon) (Columba livia (Feral Pigeon))  8
Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)  4
Spotted Sandpiper (Actitis macularius)  1
Herring Gull (Larus argentatus)  2
Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus)  1
Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus)  4
Downy Woodpecker (Dryobates pubescens)  1
Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)  2
Great Crested Flycatcher (Myiarchus crinitus)  4
Red-eyed Vireo (Vireo olivaceus)  1
Gray-cheeked Thrush (Catharus minimus)  1
Swainson's Thrush (Catharus ustulatus)  8
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  35
Gray Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis)  15
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  20
Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum)  15
American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis)  2
White-throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis)  1
Baltimore Oriole (Icterus galbula)  5
Common Grackle (Quiscalus quiscula)  10
Ovenbird (Seiurus aurocapilla)  3
Worm-eating Warbler (Helmitheros vermivorum)  1
Black-and-white Warbler (Mniotilta varia)  2
Tennessee Warbler (Oreothlypis peregrina)  1
Common Yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas)  5
American Redstart (Setophaga ruticilla)  8
Cape May Warbler (Setophaga tigrina)  1
Northern Parula (Setophaga americana)  5
Magnolia Warbler (Setophaga magnolia)  2
Bay-breasted Warbler (Setophaga castanea)  3
Yellow Warbler (Setophaga petechia)  1
Chestnut-sided Warbler (Setophaga pensylvanica)  1
Blackpoll Warbler (Setophaga striata)  8
Black-throated Blue Warbler (Setophaga caerulescens)  2
Scarlet Tanager (Piranga olivacea)  3
Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis)  6
Indigo Bunting (Passerina cyanea)  1
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)  25

View this checklist online at https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S56485389

This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (https://ebird.org/home)

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To view more photos from this event, please visit our gallery. All photo credit goes to Stephanie Loria.

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Luke Musher is a Ph.D. candidate at the American Museum of Natural History studying how biodiversity originates in the tropics. He specifically focuses his research on the evolutionary history of birds in the Amazon rainforest, which is the most biodiverse ecosystem on the planet. Musher has been birding for more than fifteen years, and during that time he has travelled all over the United States and Latin America for both research and bird watching. Still, he loves birding in New York, and no place compares to the numbers seen in Central Park during migration season.


Horseshoe Crab Monitoring with NYC Audubon

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In the evening of Saturday, May 18, the MSNH joined NYC Audubon again in their annual survey of horseshoe crab breeding in Jamaica Bay. Although a bit chilly on this full moon night, we had an excellent time watching horseshoe crabs mate! Over the last five years, we have been joining NYC Audubon annually for this event, but this was by far the busiest night for breeding that we ever witnessed with hundreds of crabs coming to the shore. We started in two teams running a transect and performing quadrant sampling every 10 m. After this was complete, we tagged roughly 80 horseshoe crabs so that researchers can track their movements and assess the stability of the Jamaica Bay population. We also discovered some horseshoe crabs who had old tags from past years, and it was great to see our old friends again! NYC Audubon's annual horseshoe crab survey is crucial for monitoring the population of these magnificent ancient arthropods, which are in decline due to overharvesting for medical and fishing purposes. A special thank you to Dottie, NYC Audubon and to all participants for such a wonderful event!

To view more photos from this event, check out here. All photo credit goes to Harald Parzer.

Useful Information/Links

NY Horseshoe Crab Monitoring Network

To learn more about horseshoe crab breeding, check out research by Dr. H. Jane Brockmann at the University of Florida.  

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Horseshoe crabs, despite their name and superficial resemblance, are not crabs. They actually belong to their own class Xiphosura in Chelicerata, an arthropod group that also includes the classes Arachnida (spiders, scorpions, ticks, etc), Eurypterida (the extinct sea scorpions and also MSNH's logo taxon), and Pycnogonida (sea spiders) and some researchers even consider them within Arachnida. Worldwide only four extant species of horseshoe crabs exist and all species except the Atlantic horseshoe crab, Limulus polyphemus, are found in the Indo-Pacific Ocean. Extinct horseshoe crab species have also been described and the oldest fossil, found in Canada, dates to the Upper Ordovician, 445 million years ago! Despite their remarkable old age, horseshoe crabs have changed little morphologically since their first appearance and are therefore often referred to as 'living fossils' in the scientific literature. To learn more about horseshoe crabs, check out this article on them from our Taxon of the Month page.

Botany Walk in Central Park with NYBG Botanist Daniel Atha

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On Saturday, April 13, the MSNH joined botanist Daniel Atha from the New York Botanical Garden, for a guided botany walk in Central Park. The walk began at the corner of 81 street and Central Park West near the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH). Daniel started by pulling out a poster of a too-often neglected map of Manhattan, made by Edgar Viele in 1865. Looking at the Viele map, we were able to see what the area we were standing on looked like more than 150 years ago, and he noted how studying that map is still critical to architectural changes all across Manhattan today. Daniel pointed out how the AMNH's campus was once a park called Manhattan Square; it had been quite swampy and had a creek running through it. Landowners not wanting to build on the park due to the creek was, coincidentally, what made the land affordable and accessible enough to the founders of the AMNH. By showing us the Viele map, Daniel also emphasized how knowledge of the history of NYC's landscape helps us understand the present, including the current flora and fauna.

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After explaining what Central Park would have looked like when the first settlers arrived, Daniel began to point out native plants that would have grown in the same area prior to the park's construction but which often go unnoticed by many a New Yorker who are often distracted by the many colorful exotic species surrounding them. To help us with our plant identification skills, Daniel showed us a neat citizen science, free and user friendly app called iNaturalist. By taking a photo of a plant (or any organism for that matter) and uploading it to the website, one can get an identification in an instant! We tested it on a few species and were able to get 100% accurate identifications as confirmed by our expert botanist! (Although he wasn't too thrilled at the prospect of being replaced by a machine!)

The walk ended with a visit to an ash tree which, according to Daniel, is one of the most poorly studied species in the world. Ash trees are dioecious, meaning that they have separate male and female trees. Daniel pointed out how the particular ash tree we were under had not been documented in New York City until he and a colleague stumbled across it during a walk in the park only a few years prior, although the tree was clearly much older than that. After bumping into this particular tree, they were able to locate several other trees in the city including a few males that are found in the park. The walk, though it did not cover much geographic ground, revealed an enormous landscape and story just beyond the path's edge. While experts like Daniel will always be indispensable resources for education and scientific research, we also learned how we have the power to better educate ourselves and appreciate the flora and fauna around us, even in the oft-manicured "concrete jungle" of New York City.

To view more photos from this event, please visit our gallery. All photo credit goes to Glenn Doherty.

Useful Resources

iNaturalist - An app used for identifying plants an animals.

NYC Street Tree Map - Website which includes a map with species names for every tree in New York City!

Edgar Viele Map - Biography of Edgar Viele and map of Manhattan in 1865

New York Botanical Garden - Home of the New York Botanical Garden

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Daniel Atha is a botanist and the Director of Conservation Outreach in the Center for Conservation Strategy at the New York Botanical Garden. He has conducted fieldwork in all 50 states of the US as well as Vietnam, Bolivia, Mexico, Belize, and several states of the former Soviet Union, and has collected over 15,000 plants, including two species new to science. With his colleagues, Regina Alvarez and Ken Chaya, he will soon publish a complete catalog of the Central Park flora. He manages the New York City EcoFlora, a community science project to document the wild plants of New York City.

7th Annual Symposium

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On Sunday, March 3, The Metropolitan Society of Natural Historians hosted its 7th Annual Symposium in conjunction with the Science Research Mentoring Program (SRMP) of the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in the Linder Theater of the AMNH. The symposium included eight 10-minute talks by scientists from prestigious institutions across across the tri-state area including the American Museum of Natural History, New York Botanical Garden, Princeton University, City University of New York, New York University and Columbia University. More than 80 people attended the event including high school students from SRMP. Presentations focused on ongoing research in a variety of subjects including the evolution of feather iridescence in birds, origins of reptiles and amphibians, forensic entomology, the physiology of coniferous plants in Vietnam, nematode reproduction, nautilus evolution, volcano flow, and sea anemones.

A big thank you to Dr. Maria Strangas, Manager of SRMP and her AMNH Education Department team, including Dr. Alexandria Moore, Crystal Schneider, and Sofia Schembari, for co-hosting the event with us! Funding for conference participation of students in the Science Research Mentoring Program of the American Museum of Natural History is supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

To view more photos from this event, visit our gallery. All photo credit goes to Harald Parzer. 

A complete list of presenters, talk titles and additional readings/resources recommended by presenters can be found below. To view the full program from this event with talk summaries and bios of presenters, visit here.

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The Evolution and Origins of Reptiles and Amphibians

Dr. Phillip Skipwith, Postdoctoral Research Scientist, Richard Gilder Graduate School, American Museum of Natural History, New York, NY

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What Worm Tails May Tell Us About Puberty

Dr. Karin Kiontke, Senior Researcher, Department of Biology, New York University, New York, NY

Additional Resources:

About Nematodes

Developmental timing in the male tail of C. elegans

Fitch Nematode Lab at NYU

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Coniferous Conundrums: The Curious Case of a Tropical Conifer

Stephanie Schmiege, Ph.D. Candidate, Columbia University, New York, NY and New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, NY

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Nautilus on the Brink of Extinction?: What are they? Where are they born?

Dr. Amane Tajika, Postdoctoral Research Scientist, Division of Paleontology, American Museum of Natural History, New York, NY

Additional Resources:

Nautilus

Ammonoid extinction and nautiloid survival

Nautilus conservation

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Crime Scene Inhabitants: Investigating the Use of Dermestid Beetles in Forensic Entomology

Sarah Aliahmad, Master’s Student, City University of New York: John Jay College of Criminal Justice

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Studying Volcanic Processes with Crystal Clocks: How Single Crystals Record Magmatic Conditions Deep in the Earth in the Months and Minutes Before Eruption

Henry Towbin, Graduate Student, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University, New York, NY

Additional Resources:

Methods used to measure processes occurring deep in volcanic systems

Inclusions trapped within volcanic crystals

Student Research in Dr. Terry Plank’s Lab at The Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory

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Diversity of Iridescent Structural Colors in Modern and Fossil Birds

Klara Norden, Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Biology, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ

Additional Resources:

 The Stoddard Lab

Melanosome diversity in iridescent feathers (open-access article)

Reconstruction of Microraptor and the evolution of iridescent plumage

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Anything But Simple: The Evolution of Burrowing Sea Anemones

Dr. Luciana Gusmão, Postdoctoral Research Scientist, Division of Invertebrate Zoology, American Museum of Natural History, New York, NY

Additional Resources:

Deep Sea News - Website featuring latest resarch on life in the deep sea

Venus Fly Trap Anemone

Dinosaur Hall Tour with paleontologist James Napoli

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On January 26, James Napoli, a Ph.D. student in the Richard Gilder Graduate School and Department of Paleontology of the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH), met with us to discuss recent findings in the world of paleobiology, while showing off the wonderful specimens the AMNH houses in its Dinosaur Halls on the 4th floor. We started in the Hall of Saurischians, in which we learned about theropods, two-legged, meat-eating, three-toed dinosaurs, which included terrifying creatures such as Allosaurus and Tyrannosaurus rex, the king of all Hollywood terror. We started small, though, with a beautifully preserved skeleton of Coelophysis, found at a famous dig site at Ghost Ranch, New Mexico. Coelophysis was an early theropod with recurved flat teeth, which indicate a low bit force, and would kill prey by bleeding them to death.

James pointed out that most dinosaurs are big. Real big! However, during the reign of dinosaurs, oxygen levels were on average lower than they are today (about 16%, compared to 21% in today’s atmosphere). So, the question is, how did they get so big? It is assumed that airsacs, still found in birds, allowed for more effective respiration. Thus, dinosaurs were able to maximize the amount of oxygen available with each breath, which is at least a partial explanation on how they could reach such astonishing sizes, much larger than any mammals at that time. However, an asteroid put an end to nearly all dinosaurs, and increasing oxygen levels allowed large mammals to dominate the scene. Birds, the only surviving lineage of dinosaurs, retained these airsacs, and were able to fly at higher altitudes (= lower oxygen concentrations), which had more oxygen demands due to their locomotion. James also informed us about the various skull openings (and we are not talking about ears, mouth and nose!), including an opening in front of the eye (called the antorbital fenestra), which allowed dinosaurs to retain moisture that they would lose otherwise when breathing.

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Next we visited some oscar-winning dinos that probably deserve their own footprints on Hollwyood Boulevard! First was the star of the Jurassic Park movies, T. rex., which like a hyena, ate whole animals, including bones and everything (nothing got wasted here). Next were Deionychus, also seen in Jurassic Park, which scientists believe kicked their lovely legs, only to cut big piercing wounds into their prey, which they would then devour. They? Yes, as most specimens have been found in groups, scientists believe that these cuties were pack hunters.

Sweating, we then moved onto sauropods. James pointed out they possess an expanded ribcage, which was possibly an adaption for digesting the large quantities of plants that these sauropods ate. We also learned that some of the specimens in AMNH were mounted before we understood how their fingers were pointed. Unlike other vertebrates, saurapod fingers are pointed towards each other, as the radia cannot rotate around the ulna (both of which are the two lower arm bones). Sauropods have a famously small head, and their teeth indicate that their jaw was mainly an entry way for food: they probably did not chew, just swallowed (and thus did not follow the common advice to chew before swallowing: in fact, they could not do so!). Instead, a gizzard, an organ in the gut, did the chewing, “down there”.  

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The last stop was the Hall of Ornithiscians. These dinosaurs are vegetarians and are defined by their special arrangements of hip bones and a predentary bone on their lower mandibles, which was attached to a keratin beak. We started right away with one of the most famous of all, the Stegosaurus. Again, this specimen was mounted a long ago…before paleontologists knew that the spikes should point sideways instead of upwards as they do in this museum specimen. Either way, Stegaosaurus probably defended itself well. The function of the large dorsal triangles found on the back is still unclear. They may have served as a defense mechanism? They may have helped with thermoregulation? Choose your own hypothesis! Either way, the Stegosaurus is not only famous for spikes and triangles, but also for its small brain size. Sorry, not just small: we are talking very small. But is it really size that matters? Researchers pointed out the closest living relatives, birds, also have unusually small brains for their body size. However, birds compensate for this by having a much higher neuron density when compared to mammals. So, maybe Stegosaurus and other relatives were actually smart! After admiring Triceratops, Styracosaurus, and the ubiquitous duck-billed dinosaurs (in fact, given their large size it is unclear how they could be so abundant), we stopped at the cute Psittacosaurus, which reminded some of us of very large guinea pigs. Spontaneous applause erupted: James Napoli described a new species in this group, and he had just started his Ph.D.! We wish him luck and many more dinosaur species on his journey for his Ph.D. and certainly hope he can update us on the many new findings made in the world of dinosaurs.

To view more photos from this event, please visit our gallery. All photo credit goes to Glenn Doherty.

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James Napoli is a Ph.D. student at the Richard Gilder Graduate School of the American Museum of Natural History. He grew up in Setauket, New York, and spent his formative years in the halls of the museum where he is now a student. He holds a Bachelor of Science from Brown University in Geology and Biology, and a Master of Science from Stony Brook University in Physiology and Biophysics. His research focuses on the evolutionary biology of vertebrates, especially extinct species like dinosaurs. He is particularly interested in developing new methods to identify species of extinct animals, and in studying the evolutionary importance of individual variation among members of a species.

Finding Fossils in Big Brook, N.J. with AMNH paleontologist Carl Mehling

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On Saturday, October 13, the MSNH joined Carl Mehling on a hunt to look for fossils in a stream in Big Brook, N.J. Although the weather was chilly and rainy, hard-core naturalists braved the weather early in the morning to see what remnants they could discover from a lost 72-million Cretaceous Jersey marine fauna. Enthusiastic naturalists got down in the stream (although quite cold!) and used their sifters to see what they could find buried among the rocks at the bottom. Notable finds included a bunch of sharks teeth, bony fish vertebrae, cephalopods, brachiopods and oysters bits.

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Carl Mehling has been at the American Museum of Natural History since 1990 and currently cares for the world's largest collection of dinosaur fossils, plus other reptiles, early synapsids, and early tetrapods. He is interested in all aspects of paleontology, especially fringe areas like bizarre modes of preservation, anomalous discoveries, and oddities within the history of paleontology. Carl collects fossils of all kinds, globally, and writes about scholarly and popular pieces of fossils. 

To view more photos from this event, visit our gallery. All photo credit goes to Glenn Doherty.

For additional information on New Jersey fossils, Carl recommends this website. When identifying you Big Book sharks teeth, be sure to look at only Cretaceous sharks teeth on the site to confirm identifications.

Ecology and Biological Inventory Project of Van Cortlandt Park

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On Saturday, October 6, the MSNH joined Christian Liriano and Dr. Pío Colemanares for a walk in Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx as part of a biological inventory project to document all species and understand the ecology of the park. Pío provided us with an overview on how ecological studies work, highlighting his experience studying harvestmen communities in the Brazilian Amazon. Christian told us more about the ongoing collaborative research happening specifically in Van Cortlandt, including using pitfall traps to see what arthropods inhabit the park.

To view more photos from this event, visit our gallery. All photo credit goes to Stephanie Loria.

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Christian Liriano is an independent field biologist and volunteer/researcher at the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH). At AMNH, he helps care for the arachnid collection and is involved with several projects including, comparative morphology of weevils and the taxonomy of tropical American harvestmen. His other interests include habitat ecology and the taxonomy of understudied organisms from northeastern North America (e.g, beetles, bryophytes) and comparative community and ecosystem ecology of rural and urban systems. Christian will continue with his studies at the College of Staten Island in the spring of 2019.

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Dr. Pío Colmenares is an arachnologist at the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) with experience in taxonomy and ecology. His main research interests are the taxonomy, systematics, ecology, conservation and biogeography of Opiliones. He also has experience with other arachnid orders, such as Amblypygi, Schizomida and Solifugae. Pío joined the AMNH staff in 2016 and is currently in charge of the Arachnid (non-Araneae) and Myriapod Collections.
 Pío received his undergraduate degree in biology in 2008, from the University of Zulia in Maracaibo, Venezuela. Upon graduating, he also worked in the Biodiversity Unit at the Instituto Venezolano de Investigaciones Científicas in Caracas, Venezuela. In 2009, he studied at the National Museum of Natural History of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., where he received training in curatorial techniques and management of various natural history collections. In 2015, Pío defended his doctoral thesis on Amazonian Harvestmen communities at the Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia in Manaus, Brazil.

Microscopic Life in NYC Waters with Dr. Sally Warring

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On September 15, the MSNH joined Dr. Sally Warring, a postdoctoral researcher from the American Museum of Natural History, to check out the diversity of microscopic life in the waters of Turtle Pond in Central Park. We had a bright, sunny day and went straight to the pond to scoop water out. Dr. Warring was able to show the various of types of microbes inhabiting the pond water by using small, portable microscopic lenses (Uhandy) that could be attached to phones. She identified the various groups for us and discussed their ecological role. As one participant put it, "We spent 2 hours looking at 1 drop of water!" 

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To view more photos from this event, visit here. Photo credit goes to Harald Parzer and Stephanie Loria.

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Dr. Sally Warring is a biologist and a science communicator based in New York City. Sally has a B.Sc. with Honors in botany from the University of Melbourne in Australia (although she's from New Zealand), and a Ph.D. in genomics and molecular biology from New York University. She's currently a postdoctoral research scholar at the American Museum of Natural History in New York where she studies microscopic organisms. She operates Pondlife, an educational website for understanding the diversity of microscopic organisms.

Additional Links and Resources
For Viewing Microbes: Uhandy Microscopes

For Identification:

http://www.microscopy-uk.org.uk

http://cfb.unh.edu/phycokey/phycokey.htm




Guided Night Hike to Mount Beacon with Arachnologist Dr. Stephanie Loria

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On Saturday, August 25, The Metropolitan Society of Natural Historians embarked on a guided evening hike to Mount Beacon led by arachnologist, Dr. Stephanie Loria. We learned about the various arthropod groups, particularly arachnids and myriapods and discussed their diversity and evolution. To start the hike, Loria showed us some collecting techniques that arachnologists use to capture specimens including leaf litter sifting and beat sheets and allowed participants to try these techniques to observe the diversity of small arthropods arounds us. After a vigorous hike up the mountain, we arrived at the summit. While enjoying the beautiful sunset, Stephanie showed us some exciting North American arachnid and myriapod specimens from her teaching collecting and explained how biologists capture and preserve specimens in the field to document biodiversity and use them for research studies. She also shared some of her favorite books on arachnids that have excellent pictures and are easy reads. We then descended down in the dark and spotted some millipedes with fluorescent feet, a fishing spider, wolf spiders, jumping spiders, orb weaving spiders, lots of harvestmen, centipedes and one vertebrate (a toad).

To view more photos from this event, visit here. A special thank you to Patrick Paglen and Mitchell Bernstein for taking photos of our event! All photo credit in our gallery goes to Patrick. Mitchell's photos and video can be viewed in our Facebook Group.

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To learn more about arachnids, check out the Arachnids book by arachnologist Jan Beccaloni from the Natural History Museum in London.

To learn more about the fossil record for Arachnida, check out this Fossil Arachnids, by arachnologist Jason Dunlop.

A great resource for insect identification is Bug Guide.

For millipede identification, great resources are available on Milli-PEET.

To see a fun video on scorpion sensory hairs, check out Tricho Bells.

To see an interview with Stephanie and some specimens from the American Museum of Natural History, check out her AMNH interview or watch her featured in a field trip to Malaysia with the California Academy of Sciences arachnid curator, Lauren Esposito. 

For any other inquires, feel free to email Stephanie at stephaniefrancesloria@gmail.com.

About the Trip Leader: Dr. Stephanie Loria is president and co-founder of the MSNH and postdoctoral researcher in the Scorpion Systematics Research Group at the American Museum of Natural History. She received her B.S. at Sewanee: The University of the South, where she studied population genetics of cave millipedes and completed her Ph.D. at the Richard Gilder Graduate School of the American Museum of Natural History. Since completing her Ph.D., she served as an adjunct instructor at SUNY: College at Old Westbury and a postdoc in the Arachnology Lab at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. Loria's research focuses on the diversity and evolution of Southeast Asian scorpions and millipedes. She has traveled across the globe for her research collecting scorpions and studying specimens in natural history museums. 

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Monitoring Horseshoe Crab Breeding with NYC Audubon

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On Sunday, May 27, the MSNH joined NYC Audubon again in their annual survey of horseshoe crab breeding in Jamaica Bay. The weather was perfect on this full moon night and as the sky darkened we saw many male horseshoe crabs come in with the tide searching the shallow waters for females. We witnessed several males trying to latch onto a single female hoping to externally fertilize her eggs. We also tagged 75 horseshoe crabs so that researchers can track their movements and assess the stability of the population. NYC Audubon's annual horseshoe crab survey is crucial for monitoring the population of these magnificent ancient arthropods, which are in decline due to overharvesting for medical and fishing purposes. A special thank you to Dottie, NYC Audubon and Dennis and to all participants for such a wonderful event!

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Horseshoe crabs, despite their name and superficial resemblance, are not crabs. They actually belong to their own class Xiphosura in Chelicerata, an arthropod group that also includes the classes Arachnida (spiders, scorpions, ticks, etc), Eurypterida (the extinct sea scorpions and also MSNH's logo taxon), and Pycnogonida (sea spiders). Worldwide only four extant species of horseshoe crabs exist and all species except the Atlantic horseshoe crab, Limulus polyphemus, are found in the Indo-Pacific Ocean. Extinct horseshoe crab species have also been described and the oldest fossil, found in Canada, dates to the Upper Ordovician, 445 million years ago! Despite their remarkable old age, horseshoe crabs have changed little morphologically since their first appearance and are therefore often referred to as 'living fossils' in the scientific literature. To learn more about horseshoe crabs, check out this article on them from our Taxon of the Month page.

To view more photos from this event, check out here. All photo credit goes to Glenn Doherty.

Useful Information/Links

NY Horseshoe Crab Monitoring Network

To learn more about horseshoe crab breeding, check out research by Dr. H. Jane Brockmann at the University of Florida.  

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Monitoring the American Eel

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On Saturday, May 12th, members of the MSNH ventured to the Center for the Urban River at Beczak, Yonkers (CURB; Sarah Lawrence College) to experience first-hand the annual migration of tiny American Eels in the Hudson River (Anguilla rostrata). Upon our arrival, Jason Muller from CURB gave us a presentation of the intricate life cycle of these fascinating fish which are considered catadromous, as they migrate as adults from freshwater bodies, like the tributaries of the Hudson River, into the ocean, in this case the Saragossa sea south of Bermuda, to lay their eggs (other fish, like salmon do it the other way around). Once hatched in the Saragossa sea, the larvae will passively follow the Gulf Stream current to reach the continental shelf as "glass eels," tiny transparent eels, which eventually will enter the Hudson and its tributaries, and other fresh water bodies found at the East Coast. Here, they mature, and this can take anywhere from 15 to 20 years in the wild.

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The Center for the Urban River catches and releases glass eels with a complex funnel net system every spring to estimate changes in population size. While most of the migration usually happens in March and April, this year has proven to be an unusual year as glass eels were still caught in May! During our visit to CURB, the MSNH was able to participate in this survey. We  put on waders provided by CURB, and recorded various water measurements (e.g. water temperature) and checked the funnel nets. The tide was low, so we could walk right through the mud (all but some of us successfully avoided to fall into the mud!) and sift whatever was caught in the net. Sure enough, among many amphipods there it was: a small wiggly glass eel! After recording the late arriver, it was released, all of us wishing it a long and successful life. Once our recording was finished, a few MSNHers stayed behind to join an annual spring celebration of CURB, while the rest of us returned back to NYC, with a better understanding of how important the Hudson River is for the growth and development of many animals, including eels. Who would have known!

To view more photos from this event, visit here. All photo credit goes to Harald Parzer.

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Jason Muller is the Outreach Coordinator, at Center for the Urban River at Beczak (CURB), Sarah Lawrence College (SLC). He has a B.A. in Environmental Studies, and an M.S. in Educational Technology from Ramapo College, New Jersey. Muller joined Beczak Environmental Education Center, now the SLC CURB, as an educator in 2008 and since then has also taken on the role of Outreach Coordinator. His duties include developing and teaching hands-on Hudson River themed youth programs. When Muller isn't in the classroom, he is working in the field with CURB’s dedicated team of volunteers. For the past 5 years he has headed up the Yonkers site for the NYSDEC’s American Eel Migration Study. This program tracks migrating glass eels from the Atlantic Ocean into the Hudson River Watershed. Muller has also previously held positions at New Jersey Meadowlands Commission’s Meadowlands Environment Center, Brookdale Community College’s Ocean Institute at Sandy Hook, and served as Park Ranger/Education Specialist for the National Park Service's Gateway National Recreation Area.

Useful Links/Information

Center for Urban River Beczak

The American Eel Project

American Eels

Spring Birding with Spencer Galen

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On Saturday, April 28, in the early morning hours, Spencer Galen, an evolutionary biologist who is finishing up his Ph.D. at the Richard Gilder Graduate School of the American Museum of Natural History, led 14 MSNH participants on a free guided bird walk through Central Park to see spring migrants. Using our eyes and ears, we observed 35 species during the walk. Some notable birds spotted include a male American Redstart, Prairie Warbler, and a Yellow-Crowned Night Heron. Below is a complete list of birds sighted or heard during the walk. A special thank you to Elizabeth Norman for helping us keep track!

Canada Goose (2)

Mallard (4)

Double-Crested Cormorant (2)

Yellow-Crowned Night-Heron (1)

Rock Pigeon (>50)

Mourning Dove (6)

Red-Bellied Woodpecker (1)

Downy Woodpecker (1)

Northern Flicker (2)

Blue-Headed Vireo (8)

Blue-Jay (6)

White-Breasted Nuthatch (1)

Ruby-Crowned Kinglet (16)

Hermit Thrush (8)

American Robin (12)

Gray Catbird (1)

European Starling (>50)

Ovenbird (1)

Northern Waterthrush (Heard Only)

Blue-Winged Warbler (1)

Black-and-White Warbler (1)

American Redstart (2)

Yellow Warbler (3)

Palm Warbler (4)

Yellow-Rumped Warbler (10)

Prairie Warbler (1)

White-Throated Sparrow (>50)

Eastern Towhee (1)

Northern Cardinal (6)

Baltimore Oriole (1)

Red-Winged Blackbird (2)

Common Grackle (4)

House Finch (4)

American Goldfinch (2)

House Sparrow (>50)

The full list posted to ebird can be viewed here.

Two Cormorants observed during the walk.

Two Cormorants observed during the walk.

To view more photos from this event, visit here. All photo credit goes to Stephanie Loria.

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Spencer Galen is a Ph.D. candidate in the Richard Gilder Graduate School at the American Museum of Natural History. He received his B.S. from the University of Delaware and an M.S. from the University of New Mexico where he studied the evolution of birds in the Peruvian Andes. Galen has spent time studying birds throughout North and South America, including Costa Rica, Ecuador, Peru, and most recently Cuba. He is originally from New Jersey where he found a passion for studying birds as a child while observing the amazing spring migration that takes place across the eastern United States every year. To learn more about Galen and his research visit his website

For great guides and apps for birding, the following resources are recommend by Galen and other birders:

The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Eastern North America: Second Edition (good prices on Amazon)

The Sibley eGuide to Birds App

All About Birds, The Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Merlin (Free bird ID App)

New York Audubon's D-bird (Site to Report Dead Birds)

Herpetology Behind-the-Scenes and Exhibit Tour at AMNH

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On Saturday, March 24, a small group of participants from the MSNH joined graduate student Arianna Kuhn and postdoctoral researcher Dr. Edward Myers on a behind-the-scenes tour of the herpetology collection at the American Museum of Natural History. There we saw Galapagos tortoises, Komodo dragons, large crocodile skulls, pythons and much more. We learned about Kuhn's work on snakes in Madagascar and heard about Dr. Myers research on rattlesnake venom evolution in the American Southwest. The tour concluded in the Hall of Reptiles and Amphibians in the American Museum of Natural History. A special thank you to Arianna and Ed for leading the tour for us!

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Arianna Kuhn is a joint Ph.D. candidate in Ecology, Evolutionary Biology & Behavior at the City University of New York, Graduate Center and Richard Gilder Graduate School at the American Museum of Natural History. Broadly, she is interested in population genomics, diversification and community ecology. Currently, she is exploring these evolutionary topics using reptiles from Africa and adjacent islands.

Links

Arianna L. Kuhn's Research Website

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Edward Myers is a Gerstner Scholar and Theodore Roosevelt Postdoctoral Fellow at the American Museum of Natural History and Richard Gilder Graduate School. He completed his Ph.D. from the City University of New York in 2016, which investigated the population genomics of snakes across arid North America. His research focuses on the process of speciation, molecular adaptation, and the evolution of venom. While his research interests span the fields of genomics and computational biology, he is fundamentally interested in the biology of snakes. He has considerable field experience and has lead several expeditions throughout the Western Hemisphere, including across the southwestern United States, Mexico, Panama, and Brazil.

Links

Edward Myers, Staff Profiles AMNH

6th Annual Symposium

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On Sunday, February 25th, The Metropolitan Society of Natural Historians hosted its 6th Annual Symposium in conjunction with the Science Research Mentoring Program (SRMP) of the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in the Linder Theater of the AMNH. The symposium included eight 10-minute talks by scientists from prestigious institutions across across the tri-state area including the American Museum of Natural History, New York Botanical Garden, Rutgers University, City University of New York, New York University and Columbia University. More than 120 people attended the event including 50 high school students from SRMP. Presentations focused on ongoing research in a variety of subjects including symbiotic relationships between parasites and hosts, hop diversity in the American southwest, dragonfly evolution in Neartic, volcanic lava flow in Indonesia, dolphin communication in New York sound, bird behavior and diversification, harvestmen diversity in the Amazon and dinosaurs in Wyoming.

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A big thank you to Dr. Mark Weckel, Assistant Director of Youth Initiatives and his SRMP team for co-hosting the event with us! Funding for conference participation of students in the Science Research Mentoring Program of the American Museum of Natural History is supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

To view more photos from this event, visit our gallery. All photo credit goes to Harald Parzer. 

A complete list of presenters, talk titles and additional readings/resources recommended by presenters can be found below. To view the full program from this event with talk summaries and bios of presenters, visit here.

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Genomic differentiation in Northern Cardinals of the North American warm deserts is maintained by behavioral isolation
Kaiya Provost, Ph.D. Candidate, Richard Gilder Graduate School, American Museum of Natural History

Additional Resources:
Dr. Brian Smith's Lab Website

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A brief look at the diversity and distribution of harvestmen in the Central Amazon, Brazil
Dr. Pio Colmenares, Museum Specialist, American Museum of Natural History

Additional Resources:
Harvestmen
Amazonian Harvestmen
Harvestmen Classification

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Aquatic urbanites and where to find them: Examining the presence of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) in the Western New York Bight
Kristi Collom, Masters Student, Hunter College and American Museum of Natural History

Additional Resources:
Dr. Diana Reiss' Lab Website
Northeast Chapter for the Society for Marine Mammalogy led by K. Collom. To join please contact: smmnortheastchapter@gmail.com.
American Princess Cruises for Whale, Seal and Dolphin  

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The real Dragon(fly)s of the past and present
Manpreet Kohli, Ph.D. Candidate, Rutgers University

 

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Opening old boxes to ask new questions: "The Howe Quarry Project," reassessment of a dinosaur graveyard
Dr. Emanuel Tschopp, Postdoctoral Research Scientist, American Museum of Natural History

Additional Resources:
Sauriermuseum Aathal
'Brontosaurus' name resurrected by new dino family tree
New species of dinosaur increases the already unexpected diversity of 'whiplash dinosaurs'

 

Tour of Inside You Exhibit at AMNH with biologist Melissa Ingala

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On Sunday, January 28th, the MSNH met at the American Museum of Natural History with Ph.D. candidate Melissa Ingala to hear more about what is “Inside You.” Ms. Ingala guided us, with great expertise and enthusiasm, through the exhibit of the same name. First, we learned that we are not alone – in fact, there are many more bacterial than human cells in and on each human body (in the human gut alone, there are about 100 Trillion bacteria!). While bacteria grow especially well on moist areas like your armpits, the left and the right hands do not have the same population of microbes. Not surprisingly, we share the same bacteria with co-inhabiting humans, but are also more likely to share them with our co-inhabiting canines, but not felines for yet to be understood reasons. “Of course not,” a cat owner whispered to me, with little surprise: “Cats share little with their owners.”

As bacteria and other microbes are found on most surfaces, scientists were able to show what most NYC citizens expected anyway: the subway system is full of interesting microbes, many of them which have not even been identified. No worries, we are safe – if anything, a subway ride might boost your immune system.

Microbes do not only vary among people, but they also vary among different populations. It appears that specific diets, like a diet high in seaweed as in Japanese, or like Sweet Potatoes as some tribes in Papua New Guinea, allow these people to turn these otherwise nutrient-poor food items into delicious, nutrient-rich morsels. Populations that are known to have a wide variety of food and rarely take antibiotics like the Yanomarni of the Amazonian Rainforest in Venezuela have an extremely diverse gut microbiome. Meanwhile, Europeans and Americans, possibly due to the overly sterile approaches towards life, paired with a reduced diversity in food, have the least diverse gut microbiome so far tested. Time to mix up your diet!

Melissa then talked about her research which focuses on true food specialists: vampire bats and fruit bats. These two groups have a very narrow range diet, none of which is known to provide enough macronutrients like protein. Melissa suspects that either their gut bacteria are creating the lacking macronutrients from scratch, or that at least the fruit bats consume a nibble of something else here and there to compensate for the lack of nutrients. Hopefully we will know more about it soon!

After that, Melissa led us into the world of health. This sparked a lot of questions. Some bacteria living in and on us are protecting us from other, more harmful bacteria and fungi like Athlete’s foot that would enter our system otherwise. The rise of inflammatory diseases might have been caused at least partially by the reduced diversity of our microbiome. Even diseases like obesity, depression, and anxiety might be affected by our bacteria, or may in turn affect them. But no worries – treatment is on the way! Fecal transplants (yes, it is exactly what you think it is) have been shown to reduce weight in otherwise obese mice (they received fecal samples from lean mice). Similarly, bacteria found in fermented foods like yogurt and sauerkraut might reduce anxiety in the same rodent. It appears that new medicines may require us to be less squeamish.

Thank you, Melissa for showing us the latest in this intriguing world, we hope to hear more about your research on bats and can’t wait to have you back again.

To view more photos from this event, visit our gallery. All photo credit goes to Glenn Doherty.

Melissa Ingala examining some bat specimens from the American Museum of Natural History. Photo Credit Roderick Mickens.

Melissa Ingala examining some bat specimens from the American Museum of Natural History. Photo Credit Roderick Mickens.

Melissa Ingala is a Ph.D. candidate in comparative biology at the Richard Gilder Graduate School at the American Museum of History. She is a New Jersey native who holds a masters degree in ecology and systematics from Fordham University. Her research interests concern the functional importance of the gut microbiome in wildlife hosts, and the roles microbes have played in the ecology and evolution of those hosts. She works closely with the Mammalogy and Genomics departments at the American Museum of Natural History, and has conducted field expeditions in the rainforests of Belize with AMNH curator Nancy Simmons. 

Additional Resources recommended by Melissa Ingala

The Crazy Ambitious Effort to Catalogue Every Microbe on Earth from Wired

How Gut Bacteria Tell Their Hosts What to Eat from Scientific American

Happy New Year!

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The end of the year is always a time for self-reflection so it's time to do a 2017 recap for the MSNH. This year the MSNH hosted 11 events led by researchers from the American Museum of Natural History, New York Botanical Gardens, City University of New York, Rutgers University, Sewanee: The University of the South, Columbia University, and Audubon, which attracted 300 attendees! Among other events, we got to count horseshoe crabs in Jamaica Bay, search for fossils in a stream in NJ, learn about herbaceous and woody plants in Central Park, and hear about dinos, meteorites, and human evolution at the American Museum of Natural History. This year, we also hosted our first Nature Writing Contest (deadline in just 4 days!) and held our largest ever natural history symposium. Overall 2017 has been another fun year for us Officers and we thoroughly enjoy organizing events to connect you with scientists, their research and the natural world. We thank all the researchers who have led our events or prepared Taxa of the Month writeups, all the people who have donated to our cause, and all our attendees and we can't wait for another exciting year ahead!

Wishing you all a wonderful 2018!

Stephanie, Harald, Glenn and Maurice

Dinosaur Hall Tour at AMNH with Danny Barta

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On Saturday, December 2, paleontologist Danny Barta met with the MSNH at the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) to discuss recent findings in the world of paleobiology, as well as showing off the wonderful dinosaur specimens, which the AMNH houses. Our first specimen, and by far the largest, was the newly named titanosaur, Patagotitan mayorum, an individual so big, that its head, dangling on an outrageously long neck, is sticking out of the exhibition hall. Barta pointed out that the giant’s toes can only be found on his hindlegs (possibly to dig nests), that its neck vertebra contains complex struts to house air sacks, and that it might not have been much older than 15 years old! That’s what we call a growth spurt!

We moved on to see the ancestors of crocodilians, which were possibly warm-blooded and faster moving than their descendants, and saw that pterosaur (which are not dinosaurs!) wings developed by elongation of the fourth finger, connected to the body by skin. This is unlike any other flying vertebrate, in which wings are either formed by feathers (birds), or through an expansion of all fingers, with the skin in between (bats). Either way, after seeing a fossilized dinosaur resting on a nest of eggs as well as an embryonic skeleton, we moved on to the hall of Saurischian dinosaurs, which are defined by their hip structure. Here, we learned about the long-necked sauropods (and the recent resurrection of the genus Brontosaurus), as well as the three-toed theropods, which include Tyrannosaurus rex, Velociraptor, and our feathered friends, the birds, which also belong to this group of dinosaurs. Turns out Jurassic Park got it all wrong: T. rex could not run faster than 10-15 miles an hour (but it still would be able to catch you if you would have tried to run away, “unless you are a sprinter”), and Velociraptor was much smaller than depicted in the book and movie.

Finally, we went to the hall of Ornithischian dinosaurs, all of which had a predentary bone on the lower mandible to which a keratin beak attached. Beaked dinosaurs? Yes, they were, and plenty of them: Triceratops, Stegosaurs, and the duck-billed dinosaur mummy (with fossilized skin) were only a few of the marvelous specimens we saw in this hall. Barta showed us the different life stages of Psittacosaurus, and explained the differences between Triceratops (large frills, long horns over the eyes,) and Styracosaurus (short frills, short horns over the eyes), discussed how ankylosaurs defended themselves with armor, and told us that the function of the dorsal plates on stegosaurs are still unclear (it might have nothing to do with thermoregulation, but possibly evolved for display).

The tour ended with a bang: 65 million years ago, a meteorite crashed into the area of today’s Cancun and put an end to all this dinosaur nonsense, with one exception: the birds. Still among us, and with plenty of astonishing species, they remind us of the amazing evolutionary journey dinosaurs underwent since 240 mya.

We thank Danny Barta, for making this such a pleasant and informative visit, and good luck with your Ph.D. defense in summer 2018!

To view more photos from this event, visit our gallery. All photo credit goes to Maurice Chen.

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Danny Barta is a Ph.D. candidate in comparative biology at the Richard Gilder Graduate School of the American Museum of Natural History. He grew up in Helena, Montana, and holds a masters degree in earth sciences from Montana State University. Broadly, he is interested in vertebrate reproduction, growth, and development. His doctoral research focuses on the post-hatching growth and development of basal theropod and ornithischian dinosaurs. The exceptional collections available at the American Museum of Natural History provide important insight into dinosaur growth rates and anatomical changes during development. He also has conducted fieldwork in the western United States, China, and Mongolia.

Recommended Additional Resources

AMNH's Dinosaur Website

The University of California (Berkeley) Museum of Paleontology’s Online Exhibits

Dr. Thomas Holtz’s (University of Maryland) Online Lecture Notes for his Undergraduate Dinosaur Course

For those interested in paleo-art, an interview with current AMNH artist Mick Ellison about how he reconstructs extinct animals

Guided fungi walk in Inwood Hill Park with Paul Sadowski

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As the summer heat dragged on into late October, over twenty Society members new and old gathered at midday in Inwood Hill Park in Manhattan to learn about the myriad fungi that exist just off the beaten path - literally. Paul Sadowski utilized his twenty-plus years of experience studying fungi to provide in-depth knowledge to the group. There was no need to go more than a few feet at a time to flip over a different log and reveal another variety of fungi. Attendees who brought their pocket loupes and magnifiers gladly passed them around so others could visualize and explore the intricate folds found on the undersides of the mushrooms. Paul provided insight into how mushrooms are being used to gauge global warming as well as details on medicinal uses. 

To view more photos from this event, visit our gallery. All photo credit goes to Maurice Chen.

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Paul Sadowski has been an active amateur mycologist for over twenty years. He has studied mushrooms under the mentorship of Gary Lincoff, Tom Volk, Aaron Norarevian, Dennis Aita and others. He has been a working member of the New York Mycological Society during these years as Treasurer and Secretary, coordinator of the Monday Night Study Group (the Foul Weather Friends) and has led microscopy workshops for the Society. In 2010 he received The North American Mycological Association's Harry and Elsie Knighton Service Award. Paul has also been involved in the operations of the Northeast Mycological Federation, serving as Treasurer since 2011. He is the chair of the 2017 NEMF Samuel Ristich Foray. Sadowski has presented numerous programs in New York and New Jersey for an audience of the mycologically curious members of garden clubs and conservancies. In 2007 and 2008 with the Greenbrook Sanctuary naturalist, Nancy Slowik, they embarked on a survey of fungi within the Sanctuary's property in the New Jersey Palisades. The experience led him to study Polypores with the eminent mycologist Tom Volk at a seminar held at Eagle Hill, the Humboldt Field Research Center in Steubenville, Maine. The Charles Horton Peck Foray, the annual meeting of students of mycology and mushroom hobbyists is a touchstone for Mr. Sadowski. The relaxed atmosphere of this congregation is at once mentoring and rejuvenating. He has coordinated support from the NYMS in sponsoring three forays. Each year since 2009, Mr. Sadowskihas led presentations and walks at Inwood Hill Park on behalf of the NYC Parks Department in cooperation with the Greenacre Foundation.