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Mummy and Modern DNA Analysis

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The Nile crocodile, one of Egypt’s most famous icons, is in fact two distinct species, according to recent genetic analyses of mummified crocodiles from ancient Egyptian temples.

Evon Hekkala, an assistant professor at Fordham University, conducted a DNA analysis at the Museum’s Sackler Institute for Comparative Genomics by extracting the DNA of 57 specimens—some of them mummies—from museums around the world and 123 modern crocodiles, which she then sequenced at the Sackler Institute.

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Young Naturalist Tests Honeybee Memory Endurance

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Though honeybees are famous for producing honey, they also pollinate agricultural crops. Intrigued by these tiny pollinators, 16-year-old Jill decided to learn more about the role memory and landscape play in honeybee foraging and pollination.

“Honeybee memory is a primary source of honeybee prosperity,” Jill explains in her essay Memory Retention of Landscape Learning in Honeybees, Apis Mellifera, for which she won a2011 Young Naturalist Award. After researching the importance of landscape memory in honeybees’ ability to forage and return to the hive, Jill conducted an experiment that examined the insects’ long-term memory.

Tags: Young Naturalist Awards

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Beyond Politics: Science Drives Our Future

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This Op-Ed by Ellen V. Futter, President of the American Museum of Natural History, was recently published in the Huffington Post.

The United States did not become a great and powerful nation by rejecting science. In fact, this is the country whose forefathers include citizen scientists such as Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and Teddy Roosevelt. This is the country that put a man on the moon, cured polio, and developed the computer. The country of Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, and Rachel Carson; of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs.

So in this election season, let’s not politicize issues that aren’t inherently partisan. Let’s not undermine our ability to address areas of broad consensus where the stakes are staggeringly high—most especially the central role of science in advancing our society, economy, and future.

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Acidifying Waters Inspire Young Naturalist’s Investigation

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Growing up in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, 14-year-old George was always attentive to its aquatic life. When he learned the waters were acidifying, George wondered how it would affect aquatic organisms.

He decided to measure the effects of changing water acidity, salinity, and temperature on grass shrimp, Palaemonetes pugio, using their heart rates as a measure of their metabolic oxygen consumption. For his investigation, which is described at length in his essay, The Effects of pH, Salinity, and Water Temperature on Palaemonetes pugioGeorge received a2011 Young Naturalist Award.

Tags: Young Naturalist Awards

New Research Points to Dinosaurs’ Colorful Past

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There’s new evidence that dinosaurs, once thought to resemble scaly lizards, were in fact fluffy, colorful animals. In the video below, Curator Mark Norell, who is chair of the Museum’s Division of Paleontology and studies important feathered dinosaurs from Liaoning, China, shares his thoughts on the significance of two new studies about fossilized feathers reported in the current issue of Science magazine.

If you missed the live Twitter chat with Dr. Mark Norell about fossilized feathers on Friday, Sept. 16, click here to read the discussion. Add your own comments using the hashtag#DinoFeathers.

Tags: Dinosaurs, Paleontology

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