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18. Vampire squid_DF.3759.jpg

A Brilliant Defense

On Exhibit posts

Humans marvel at the beauty of glowing organisms, but usually, nature’s light displays serve a much more practical purpose.

When pushed to the limit by a predator, the vampire squid envelops its adversary in a smokescreen of glowing particles. After ejecting luminescent mucus from the tips of its eight tentacles, this master of disguise makes its escape, “flying” through water with its fins rather than jet-propelling like most other cephalopods. The sticky mucus, which glows for up to 10 minutes, may even coat the predator and make it more vulnerable to attack.

Tags: Members

What Is and Is Not a Dinosaur?

News posts

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

SpidersAlive Collection

The Arachnid Collection Behind Spiders Alive!

Research posts

A visitor to the Museum’s Spiders Alive! exhibition, which showcases live examples of approximately 20 spider species, might not realize that upstairs, out of public view, is the world’s largest spider collection. The Museum’s research collection contains more than 1 million spiders preserved in ethanol—a growing resource for scientists worldwide.

“Almost every important paper on spider systematics relies on specimens borrowed from our collection,” said Norman Platnick, curator of Spiders Alive! and curator emeritus in the Division of Invertebrate Zoology. “At any given time, we have many thousands of specimens on loan to dozens of researchers all around the globe.”

Tags: Spiders

SEM Scanning Electron Microscope Goblin Spider

Seeking Out Spiders

News posts

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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American Museum of Natural History

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