Last year, William Harcourt-Smith, an assistant professor at Lehman College and a research associate in the Museum’s Division of Paleontology, blogged for the Museum about his research on the Kenyan island of Rusinga. Harcourt-Smith co-directs a paleontological field project on the island, which is best known as the site of the discovery of the first fossils of Proconsul, an early ape. Below is an excerpt of a longer story that Harcourt-Smith wrote for the Summer 2012 issue of Rotunda, the Member magazine.
On July 28, the Museum’s new exhibition Spiders Alive! will offer visitors access to the hidden worlds of arachnids, from red-kneed tarantulas and burrowing trapdoor spiders to the feared black widow and gargantuan goliath bird eater.
The Museum has a long tradition of live-animal exhibitions, from Frogs: A Chorus of Colors to The Butterfly Conservatory. When selecting live species for shows, curators and exhibition staff must consider lighting, placement, temperature, and in some cases, an animal’s age or sleeping habits. “Animals have personalities and preferences,” says Museum Curator Darrel Frost, who oversaw the 2010 Lizards and Snakes exhibition. “There are some fascinating animals that can’t be shown because they don’t do well with people or the exhibition environment. To put them on display, you’d have to put them in an uncomfortable situation.”
Starting today, Android users will be able to find their way through the Museum, along with more than 20 other institutions, with an expansion to Google Maps for indoor locations. The new service accurately tracks a user’s location with a blue dot and guides visitors through exhibitions, to restrooms, and across various floors.
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.