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Invertebrate fossils

Mobile Ammonites Stayed Put at Plains Methane Seeps

Research posts

Research led by Museum scientists shows that ammonites, an extinct type of shelled mollusk that’s closely related to modern-day nautiluses and squids, made homes in the unique environments surrounding methane seeps in the seaway that once covered America’s Great Plains. The findings, recently published in the journal Geology, provide new insights into the mode of life and habitat of these ancient animals.

In the Black Hills region of South Dakota, researchers are investigating a 74-million-year-old mound of fossilized material where methane-rich fluids once migrated through the sediments onto the sea floor. When the face of this cliff recently slumped off, a wide variety of bivalves, sponges, corals, fish, crinoids, and, as recently documented, ammonites, were revealed.

Tags: Invertebrates

planet earth

Celebrate Earth Day From Outer Space

Q&As

Join the Museum’s annual celebration of Earth Day with Spaceship Earth on Thursday, April 19. This Hayden Planetarium program takes viewers across the planet’s verdant hills and blue oceans and into space to view Earth as only astronauts have seen it. Director of Astrovisualization Carter Emmart will guide the tour using the Museum’s Digital Universe Atlas, an authentic 3D map of the cosmos that uses satellite data as recent as three hours old to digitally reconstruct the universe. Emmart recently answered a few questions about the experience.

Why is it important to take a look at Earth’s place in the universe?

Carter Emmart: Earth Day was a direct result of the first images acquired by astronauts viewing our home from the humbling distance of the Moon. One planet, ours, in space, alive with life and color, covered mostly by water and a dynamic atmosphere with constantly shifting clouds, and all this seen from our national goal of reaching the Moon, our nearest neighbor, lifeless, without color or water, and without atmosphere. Regardless of how fascinating the rest of the planets, moons, and asteroids are, ours is paradise. We are part of this world, and our survival goes hand in hand with it. We respond to its beauty as we respond to any beautiful landscape filled with color, form, and the dynamics of nature. Our Earth Day celebration is a moment to sit back and revere our planet and our existence.

Tags: Digital Universe Atlas, Hayden Planetarium, Q&A

Professor Richard Binzel

Tracking Asteroids with Richard Binzel

Q&As

Space dust and asteroid fragments reach Earth’s surface every day, but only rarely do extraterrestrial objects cause serious harm. Scientists use increasingly precise technology to track near-Earth objects and gauge if a Cretaceous-style collision could be on the horizon. At the forefront of this research is MIT professor Richard Binzel, whose Museum lecture Asteroids: Friends or Foes? on Monday, April 16, evaluates the threat of asteroids and makes a case for how they might actually be useful to humans. Binzel recently answered a few questions about his research.

Tags: Astronomy Live!, Hayden Planetarium, Q&A

creatures image

Creatures of Light: Inside the Studio

On Exhibit posts

Months before the opening of Creatures of Light on March 31, a team of preparators at the Museum began developing custom models of glowing organisms that light up the exhibition. Director of Exhibition Design Michael Meister and other members of the Exhibition Department share how they conduct visual research for these unique models, work with curators to make them scientifically accurate, and meet the various lighting challenges of creating an exhibition about bioluminescence.

Tags: Bioluminescence

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