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DNA Barcoding of Caviar Indicates that Regulation Can Curb Illegal Trade

Research posts

Research that used DNA-based testing to compare the extent of fraudulent labeling of black caviar purchased before and after international protection shows conservation benefits. A team of scientists from the Institute for Conservation Science at Stony Brook University and the Sackler Institute for Comparative Genomics at the Museum repeated a market survey of commercially available caviar in the New York City area that was conducted before the protection was put in place, and the results showed nearly a 50 percent decrease in fraudulently labeled caviar.

The research, published this week in the journal PLoS ONE, compared the results of two market surveys conducted 10 years apart. The previous market survey was conducted from 1995 to 1996, before sturgeon was listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in 1998. That survey revealed that 19 percent of commercially available caviar in the New York City area was mislabeled with respect to species origin. When sampling the same market from 2006 to 2008, fraudulently labeled caviar occurred in 10 percent of the caviar, and only in the samples bought online.

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Chinchilla

New Ancient Rodents Offer Evidence For Andes’ Later Rise

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Researchers have described two new ancient species of South American rodents, including the oldest known chinchilla, in a study published last week in American Museum Novitates, a peer-reviewed scientific journal of the Museum. The research, which was led by Ornella Bertrand, a recipient of the Museum’s Annette Kade Graduate Student Fellowship, substantiates what might be the earliest grasslands in the world.

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New Research On Intermediate Black Holes

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A new model shows how an elusive type of black hole can form in the gas surrounding its supermassive counterparts.

In research published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, scientists from the American Museum of Natural History, the City University of New York (CUNY), the Jet Propulsion Laboratory of the California Institute of Technology, and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics propose that intermediate-mass black holes—light-swallowing celestial objects with masses ranging from hundreds to many thousands of times the mass of the Sun—can grow in the gas disks around supermassive black holes in the centers of galaxies. The physical mechanism parallels the model astrophysicists use to describe the growth of giant planets in the gas disks surrounding stars.

Tags: Hayden Planetarium, Neil deGrasse Tyson

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Project 1640

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An advanced telescope imaging system that started taking data last month is the first of its kind capable of spotting planets orbiting suns outside of our solar system. The collaborative set of high-tech instrumentation and software, called Project 1640, is now operating on the Hale telescope at the Palomar Observatory in California, where it uses a new starlight-suppressing technique to see dim planets and other celestial objects in the star’s neighborhood. A large portion of the imaging system was developed and tested in the Museum’s optics laboratory by Ben R. Oppenheimer, an associate curator in the Department of Astrophysics and principal investigator for the project.

Tags: Exoplanets, Rose Center for Earth and Space

Visiting the Museum's Great Gull Island

Research posts

On the eastern edge of Long Island Sound, a small, rocky piece of land known as Great Gull Island houses the crumbling battlements of a U.S. Army fort and some 11,000 nesting pairs of Common and Roseate Terns. The Museum purchased the island in 1949 to preserve a breeding habitat for terns displaced by increasing development on Long Island’s beaches. The acquisition has proven to be a success, as the remaining Army structures are a nesting tern’s delight.

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