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Each of the 41 intriguing images in Picturing Science: Museum Scientists and Imaging Technologies tells a fascinating story about research or conservation projects. Here’s the last in a series of four snapshots.
New imaging technologies have revolutionized the age-old scientific tasks of observation and classification. And for James Carpenter, a curator in the Division of Invertebrate Zoology, they’ve opened up a new way of seeing.
Dr. Carpenter is tracing the ancestry of various wasps, which he does by examining the insects’ physical features to identify them and place them in their evolutionary context. His lab’s current project, funded by the National Science Foundation, is to reconstruct the phylogeny, or evolutionary history, of Vespinae, a subfamily of wasps consisting of hornets and yellowjackets.
Carpenter’s methods include photomontage—essentially digital photography—which allows him to stack images to focus on specific features. A head shot of a German wasp, part of the ongoing exhibition Picturing Science: Museum Scientists and Imaging Technologies now on view in the Akeley Gallery and curated by Mark Siddall, uses this technique to bring selected areas into sharp focus. These snapshots enable Carpenter to place the insect in the tree of life.
His lab also uses a variety of high-tech microscopes, including an environmental scanning electron microscope. This instrument highlights minuscule features without destroying the specimen, as often happened with earlier versions of the technology. Once Carpenter has the traits, he plugs the data into a computer program that synthesizes them at rapid speed.
by AMNH on
Each of the 41 intriguing images in Picturing Science: Museum Scientists and Imaging Technologies tells a fascinating story about research or conservation projects. Here’s the third in a series of four snapshots.
For the past year, a 7-foot-tall totem of an eagle has towered over the well-ordered tables of the Museum’s Objects Conservation Lab, the special department within the Division of Anthropology charged with protecting its collections for future study.
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The discovery of a small jade tool that was dropped into the waters off an island in the Southwest Pacific about 3,300 years ago is stirring up questions about its origin. The reason for puzzlement: the small green artifact has a chemical composition that is unlike any other described jade, and it was found thousands of miles away from the nearest known geological source.
An international team of archaeologists and geologists from the American Museum of Natural History, the University of Otago (New Zealand), and the University of Papua New Guinea investigate this unusual specimen in a special issue of theEuropean Journal of Mineralogy on jadeitite, the rock that defines one type of jade.