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Chilli

A Taste of Tequila and Chili Peppers

Q&As

Chili peppers, a spicy fruit featured in cuisines around the world, were used in Mexico long before going global, as was the agave-derived distilled drink tequila. This week, the Museum’s Adventures in the Global Kitchen series presents Tequila and Chilies, which will include a conversation with Juan Carlos Aguirre, the executive director of Mano a Mano: Mexican Culture Without Borders. Aguirre, who will be providing samplings of chili-based dishes from across Mexico alongside tequila from Richard Sandoval Restaurants, recently offered a quick history lesson about the ubiquitous chili pepper.

Tags: Food, Our Global Kitchen, Q&A

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The Evolution of Skin

Q&As

Skin is the body’s largest organ, and one with a complex cultural and evolutionary past. At the upcoming SciCafe on Wednesday, May 2, biological anthropologist Nina Jablonski will discuss how human skin evolved, particularly as an adaptation to ultraviolet radiation. She recently answered a few questions about skin and its role in our lives.

When did you decide to study the history of human skin?

Nina Jablonski: By accident. About 23 years ago, a colleague asked me to give a lecture to his class about skin because he was going to be out of town for a conference. I obliged. In preparing for the lecture, I realized just how little had been written about the evolution and meaning of human skin.

Tags: Human Evolution, Q&A, SciCafe

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Curator John Sparks on Fieldwork in Extreme Environments

From the Field posts

Ichthyologist John Sparks, curator of Creatures of Light: Nature’s Bioluminescence, recalls two challenging expeditions in Madagascar in search of new species of blind cavefishes. Read an excerpt of the interview below.

We were in Ankarana Reserve in far northern Madagascar, a surreal landscape of exposed karst formations. These are one-of-a-kind formations of permeable rocks, with rivers and streams in between. It’s kind of like Swiss cheese, with water running through it. We were looking for a species of blind cavefish endemic to this region.

But first, we had to make our way through the piles of bat guano [dung]. The cavefishes, which lack pigment and have no eyes, eat some of the invertebrates that are in the water, but a lot of them survive mainly on guano. There are enormous piles of it in these caves, 20- to 30-foot mounds. When you get closer, the mounds seem to come alive, with millions of clicking, rustling cockroaches that run over your feet and up your legs. It’s just like a scene out of an Indiana Jones movie.

Tags: Bioluminescence

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