After more than 200 years of exploration, new species of snakes, chameleons, geckos, and skinks are still being discovered in Madagascar, the fourth-largest island in the world. At the next SciCafe on Wednesday, June 1, Christopher Raxworthy, associate curator in the Department of Herpetology who has spent decades working in Madagascar, will discuss the mix of modern technologies—including satellite imagery and DNA sequencing—and “muddy boots” field biology to remote parts of the island that is making discovery possible today.
We asked you to help us name Mamenchisaurus, the 60-foot-long female sauropod at the center of The World’s Largest Dinosaurs exhibition. She’s an 18-year-old vegetarian known for her incredible 30-foot-long neck who also happens to love tweeting. She is originally from China, and she just arrived at the Museum this April.
After hundreds of nickname submissions, the finalists are in:
- Brook (the first Mamenchisaurus fossil was found by a river in China)
- Mei Mei (mei means beauty in Chinese)
Now it’s up to you! Visit the contest page to vote for your favorite nickname through Sunday, June 5, Before you vote, you can get to know Mamenchisaurus a little better by following her on Twitter @Giant_Dino or by visiting the exhibition site.
Her new name will be announced on June 7.
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.
Back by popular demand, Frogs: A Chorus of Colors, opens at the Museum on Saturday, May 28. Featuring more than 200 live frogs, from the tiny golden mantella frog to the enormous African bullfrog, this dynamic exhibition introduces visitors to these complex amphibians, their biology and evolution, their importance to ecosystems, and the threats they face in the wild.