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Microraptor

New Finding: Dinosaur’s Feathers Were Black with Iridescent Sheen

Research posts

A pigeon-sized, four-winged dinosaur known as Microraptor had black iridescent feathers when it roamed the Earth 130 million years ago, according to new research led by a team of American and Chinese scientists that includes Museum researchers. The dinosaur’s fossilized plumage is the earliest record of iridescent feather color. The findings, which suggest the importance of display in the early evolution of feathers, are published in the March 9 edition of the journal Science.

“This study gives us an unprecedented glimpse at what this animal looked like when it was alive,” said Mark Norell, one of the paper’s authors and chair of the Museum’s Division of Paleontology.

Tags: Dinosaurs, Paleontology

Extremophiles and Life Beyond Earth

Q&As

Research about organisms that can weather Earth’s harshest environments has broadened ideas of where living things can thrive. On Sunday, March 11, the Museum’s 2012 Milstein Science Series kicks off with Extremophiles: Life in Extreme Environments, an exploration of how such organisms survive and what studying Earth’s extremophiles could mean for the search for extraterrestrial life. Seth Shostak, one of the guest speakers at the March 11 program, is a senior astronomer at the SETI Institute and researches whether life—from the intelligent to the extreme—could exist elsewhere in the universe. Below, Shostak answers a few questions about extremophiles and the search beyond life as we know it.

Tags: Exhibitions, Hayden Planetarium, Q&A

The Re-making of Mars: Terraforming Table

On Exhibit posts

The scent of evergreens, stones covered in moss, and the hum of rushing water are familiar features in many forests on Earth. But could these also describe a future landscape on Mars?

Once a staple of science fiction, terraforming—or making a planet more like Earth—is now being studied as a real possibility, as scientists research how to apply knowledge of evolution, climate, and technology to re-create the blue planet’s environment on the red planet. Visitors can learn firsthand how humans might make Mars habitable with a custom, multi-user touch table featured in the Museum’s exhibition Beyond Planet Earth: The Future of Space Exploration.

Tags: Hayden Planetarium, NASA

CBC Associate Director Felicity Arengo Profiled in New Conservation Book

Research posts

For her research on flamingos, Felicity Arengo, associate director of the Museum’s Center for Biodiversity and Conservation,has been profiled in Wildlife Heroes, a new book by Julie Scardina and Jeff Flocken. Combining photographs and fun facts with tales from the field, Wildlife Heroes features 40 conservationists dedicated to saving some of Earth’s diverse wildlife.

Arengo’s fieldwork has taken her across South America, from high-altitude lakes to fertile lowlands. “Flamingos are adapted to environments described as ‘inhospitable,’” says Arengo. “They live in landscapes of extreme salt, wind, sun, and high altitudes.” It takes a dedicated team to follow the birds and track their numbers.

Tags: Center for Biodiversity and Conservation

Podcast

Podcast: SciCafe: The Virus Hunters

Podcasts

Highly publicized diseases like Ebola and swine flu are only some of the many viruses that spread from animals to humans. In this talk titled “The Virus Hunters” from a recent SciCafe, join virologist Nathan Wolfe and computational biologist Daniel Janies as they discuss their efforts to track infectious agents in animals before they reach people.

“The Virus Hunters” was introduced by Mark Siddall, a curator from the Museum’s Division of Invertebrate Zoology. The SciCafe took place at the Museum on February 1, 2012.

Podcast: Download | RSS | iTunes (1 hour, 7mins, 80 MB)

Tags: Podcasts, SciCafe

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