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Trilobite-250

"Punk Eek," 40 Years Later

Research posts

In the late 1960s, Curator Emeritus Niles Eldredge was a graduate student with a passion for trilobite eyes. He had been taught to expect slow and steady change between the specimens of these Devonian arthropods he collected for his dissertation. Only his trilobites were doing one of two things: staying the same, or evolving in leaps.

Tags: Evolution, Paleontology

Lizard-250

Museum Ph.D. Student Confirms New Lizard Species in the Congo

Research posts

Museum graduate student Edward Stanley recently used high-resolution x-ray images of tiny “armor” bones to help an international team of scientists discover a new species of lizard from remote, war-torn mountains in Central Africa. The lizard, Cordylus marunguensis, was found on the Marungu Plateau in the southeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is described in the African Journal of Herpetology.

The new lizard was discovered on an expedition led by Eli Greenbaum, assistant professor of evolutionary genetics at the University of Texas at El Paso, and Chifundera Kusamba, a research scientist from the Centre de Recherche en Sciences Naturelles in the Congo. Suspecting that the lizard represented a new species, Greenbaum sent DNA samples and a specimen to Stanley, a third-year student in the Museum’s Richard Gilder Graduate School—the first museum program in the Western Hemisphere with the authority to grant the Ph.D. degree.

Tags: Our Research, Richard Gilder Graduate School

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

Decades of Discovery on St. Catherines Island

Research posts

David Hurst Thomas is the curator of North American Archaeology in the Museum’s Division of Anthropology and has spent his career studying the human history of St. Catherines Island. Below, he explains how archaeological finds are proving history books wrong.

For nearly four decades, it’s been my privilege to work as an archaeologist on St. Catherines—a Manhattan-sized island 10 miles off the Georgia coastline. One of the storied Golden Isles, St. Catherines is privately owned; only two people live there. Forty years ago, the Edward John Noble Foundation established a long-term relationship with the American Museum of Natural History to pursue scientific research, conservation, and education on the island.

Tags: Anthropology

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