National Museum of Natural History

Braving potential holiday/innaugeration-weekend traffic and possible encounters with politicians, 11 brave natural historians ventured last Saturday into the depths of Washington, DC in order to observe, discuss, and enjoy the wealth of natural history on display at the Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of Natural History.

Fascinating exhibits on marine biodiversity and the evolution of land plants and animals captivated all. The mineral hall was especially popular, featuring crazy geological diversity seldom encountered in daily life including natural fiber-optic rock! (light could travel straight through without disruption but the rock became opaque when viewed at an angle). Great fossils were seen, including several fossil eurypterids (the state fossil of NY and our logo).

For an entomologist like myself, the highlight of the trip was the special exhibit “insect zoo”, where many live insects were on display (including my several of my favorite organisms- the ants! Atta leaf-cutter ants, Pseudomyrmex acacia ants, and Myrmecocystus honeypot ants) and visitors could hold such exotic insects as giant hissing cockroaches, tobacco horn-worm caterpillars, and large tenibrionid beetles

Overall the excursion was an excellent success, the NMNH well deserving a name as a giant among natural history museums. Our next event will be our first annual MSNH symposium, hope to see you there!

Yours myrmecophilously,

Sean McKenzie