Nestled deep within the Museum’s vertebrate paleontology collection are several gloriously blue bones.
They are vertebrae of the long-extinct Champsosaurus, a crocodile-like creature that lived between about 60 and 45 million years ago, straddling the non-avian dinosaur extinction. They were found in 1882 in the San Juan Basin, New Mexico.
Thirteen-year-old Abby and her mother always disagreed on one point: should Abby let their dog lick her when she returned from school? “Abby! Don’t let the dog lick you,” her mother would scold. “Her tongue is full of bacteria!”
Determined to learn the truth about the level of bacteria in her dog’s mouth, Abby applied for a research grant at the State Hygienic Lab at the University of Iowa. When the lab accepted her proposal and paired her with researcher Gabriella Gerken, Abby began collecting dog and human saliva samples for her investigation. Her findings, detailed in the essay Are Dogs’ Tongues Really Cleaner Than Humans’?, received a 2011 Young Naturalist Award.
Hundreds of visitors gathered in the Museum’s Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Hall of the Universe on Tuesday morning to meet the four astronauts from NASA’s final shuttle mission, Atlantis’s STS-135. Commander Chris Ferguson, Pilot Doug Hurley, and Mission Specialists Sandy Magnus and Rex Walheim made their first New York appearance at the Museum since their return from space on July 21.