Many organisms use light to lure prey or draw attention, but scientists have found an octopus and a squid that use it to hide. The video below, created by the Museum’s Science Bulletins, shows how these deep-sea cephalopods fool their predators using bioluminescence. To learn more about the diversity of bioluminescence across the tree of life, visit the special exhibition Creatures of Light: Nature’s Bioluminescence.
A new species of feathered dinosaur discovered in southern Germany is further changing the perception of how predatory dinosaurs looked. The fossil of Sciurumimus albersdoerferi, which lived about 150 million years ago, provides the first evidence of feathered theropod dinosaurs that are not closely related to birds. The fossil is described in a paper published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by researchers at the Museum and at the Bayerische Staatssammlung für Paläontologie und Geologie and Ludwig Maximilians University, both in Germany.
In 1950, as part of a publicity campaign, the Hayden Planetarium began accepting reservations for what was billed as the first trip into space. After ads appeared in newspapers and the story was picked up by BBC broadcaster Alistair Cooke, letters poured in from as near as Newark and as far as Northumberland, with requests to book trips to the Moon, Mars, and beyond.
Some were accompanied by elaborate drawings of spacecraft, others by offers to serve as crewmembers on the flight. All came from applicants who wrote passionately about becoming the first to experience a trip to outer space, and the result is a treasure trove of letters that capture the public fascination with space exploration, a selection of which are now available for viewing on the Museum’s Beyond Planet Earth: The Future of Space Exploration site.
Much like the sunscreen-toting crowds hitting the beaches this summer, coral reefs may be carrying some protection from the sun’s strong rays.
In the case of corals, however, the “sunscreen” may come in the form of fluorescent proteins—and the protection is not from sunburn but from a fatal phenomenon known as bleaching.
Bleaching occurs when coral polyps, the animals that make coral reefs, expel photosynthetic algae under environmental stress, including too much sunlight. Under normal conditions, the algae, which give coral its brown color, are important symbiotic partners: embedded under the polyps’ skin, they produce carbohydrates that the polyps depend on for most of their energy.
Corals, in turn, need sunlight to fuel the algae’s photosynthesis. But too much sunlight can damage the algae’s photosynthetic machinery, leading them to produce damaging free radicals. This stress, combined with stress from warming seawater, can lead to bleaching.