Showing blog posts tagged with Our Research
by AMNH on
Have a question for a paleontologist? On July 18, head over to leading technology blog Gizmodo at 1:30 pm for a chance to ask the Museum’s Provost of Science Michael Novacek what led him to become interested in his field, and anything else you wanted to know about paleontology but were afraid to ask.
Nearly 20 years ago, Dr. Novacek was one of the discoverers of the Gobi Desert’s Ukhaa Tolgod, the richest Cretaceous fossil vertebrate site in the world. He has also led paleontological expeditions to Baja California, Mexico; the Andes Mountains of Chile; and the Yemen Arab Republic in search of fossil mammals and dinosaurs.
Earlier this month, blogs Gizmodo and iO9 launched What Was It, is a series of short interviews that asks the luminaries of science and technology what inspired them. Read interviews with Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian, and astronaut Mae Jemison, then join the conversation with Dr. Novacek on July 18 at Gizmodo.com.
by AMNH on
A rare fossil discovered by an international team of scientists that includes Museum researchers documents a biological partnership that makes the survival of most terrestrial plants possible. For 52 million years in a piece of Indian amber the size of a walnut, the fossil preserved a symbiotic relationship between soil fungi and plant roots called mycorrhizae.
In this longstanding relationship, the fine thread-like cells of the fungus increase the root surface for the plant, enabling the host plant to access more nutrients. In return, the fungus receives energy from the plant in the form of sugars. This symbiosis also has been shown to enhance a plant’s resistance to pathogens and the effects of drought. This mycorrhizal relationship is believed to have arisen more than 400 million years ago, as plants began to colonize terrestrial habitats.
by AMNH on
The villain of J. R. R.Tolkien’s The Hobbit–the fearsome dragon Smaug–dwells deep in a cavern with a massive hoard of treasure and terrorizes nearby villages.
His real-world namesakes aren’t quite as fearsome. Smaug is the new name given to a genus of girdled lizards from South Africa by Ed Stanley, a doctoral candidate at the Richard Gilder Graduate School at the American Museum of Natural History, who reclassified the genus in a in a paper published in Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution in January 2011. Stanley’s work is funded in part by the National Science Foundation.
Smaug lizards live in tunnels in the highlands, including the appropriately named Drakensberg (Dragon Mountain) mountain range of southern Africa. But the inspiration for the name came from a connection to the author rather than the fictional character. “Tolkien was born in the Free State, South Africa, where this lizard was found,” says Stanley.
by AMNH on
Two extraordinary new species discovered by scientists at the American Museum of Natural History — a toothy leech and a Louisiana batfish — have been named in the Top 10 New Species of 2011, a ranking compiled by the International Institute for Species Exploration (IISE) at Arizona State University. Every year taxonomists at the IISE review thousands of new species uncovered over the preceding calendar year.
One of the Top 10 is Tyrannobdella rex, which means “tyrant leech king,” a new species of blood sucker with ferociously large teeth lining a single jaw. It was discovered in Perú when the leech, which is less than 2 inches in length, was plucked from the nose of a girl who had recently been bathing in a river. T. rex was first brought to the attention of Mark Siddall, curator in the Museum’s Division of Invertebrate Zoology, when he received a specimen collected by Dr. Renzo Arauco-Brown, a Peruvian medical doctor. Siddall immediately recognized it as a new species. Part of the research for the paper, originally published in PLoS ONE, involved an expedition by two of Siddall’s students, Anna Phillips and Alejandro Oceguera-Figueroa, to gather new specimens for DNA analysis.