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New Ocean Health Index Accounts for Benefits to People

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Scientists have developed a new comprehensive index designed to assess humanity’s benefit from healthy oceans. The Ocean Health Index, developed by collaborators from nearly 20 institutions, including the American Museum of Natural History, was used to evaluate the ecological, social, economic, and political conditions for every coastal country in the world. The findings, published in the journalNature, show that the global ocean overall scores 60 out of 100 on the Index. Individual country scores range widely, from 36 to 86. The highest-scoring locations included both densely populated, highly developed nations such as Germany (73), as well as uninhabited islands, such as Jarvis Island in the Pacific (86).

The Index, the development of which was led by the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis and Conservation International, is the first broad, quantitative assessment that includes people as part of the ocean ecosystem. It scientifically compares and combines key elements from all dimensions of the ocean’s health so that decision-makers can promote an increasingly beneficial future for all ocean life, including humans.

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Curiosity Rover Heads for Mars

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The biggest and most technically advanced rover to date is scheduled to land on Mars this Sunday, August 5, at approximately 10:30 pm PDT. The Astro Bulletin below, from the Museum's Science Bulletins program, follows Curiosity as it leaves the launching pad on Cape Canaveral and begins its journey to the red planet. Equipped with more gear than the two previous rovers combined, Curiosity is designed to collect and process samples and then distribute them to testing chambers inside scientific instruments carried onboard. Test results and images of Mars's surface will be transmitted to NASA through radio relays via Mars orbiters. 


To see a model of the Curiosity rover, visit Beyond Planet Earth: The Future of Space Exploration before it closes on August 12.

Tags: Hayden Planetarium

What Is and Is Not a Dinosaur?

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A key evolutionary innovation of dinosaurs is that they walk with a fully erect posture, holding their hind legs vertically under their hips. What else makes a dinosaur a dinosaur? Learn how scientists define this group of reptiles in the first video from the AMNH.tv series "Dinosaurs Explained."

Tags: Dinosaurs

SEM Scanning Electron Microscope Goblin Spider

Seeking Out Spiders

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The Museum is home to the largest collection of spiders in the world, one that is still growing through the fieldwork of scientists such as Norman Platnick, Curator Emeritus in the Division of Invertebrate Zoology. Platnick, who has discovered and described more than 1,600 new spider species, says there are many more to find.

“Collections are the only way we can document the plants and animals with which we share this planet,” says Platnick. “For groups that are as poorly known as spiders, there are many areas in the world where they have not been collected at all.”

One of his recent collecting efforts, in late 2010, took Platnick and his team on a month-long expedition into the cloud forests of northeastern Ecuador. Science Bulletins, the Museum’s multimedia program that covers current science, followed the researchers as they worked day and night seeking out spiders from the forest floor to the high canopy.

Tags: Science Bulletins, Spiders

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