by AMNH on
Celebrating decades of groundbreaking exploration in East Africa, renowned paleoanthropologists Donald Johanson and Richard Leakey shared the stage at the American Museum of Natural History recently to discuss the overwhelming evidence for evolution in the hominid fossil record and why understanding our evolutionary history is so important. In this podcast, join the discussion, moderated by Dr. Sanjay Gupta, chief medical correspondent for CNN.
Known for such landmark discoveries as “Lucy” (Johanson) and “Turkana Boy” (Leakey), the work of these two scientists has produced much of the fossil evidence that forms our understanding of human evolution.
Looking back over careers spanning 40-plus years, Dr. Johanson and Dr. Leakey shared the stories behind their monumental finds and offered a look at what’s ahead in human evolutionary research.
This historic event was made possible through a joint partnership of the American Museum of Natural History, the Arizona State University Institute of Human Origins, and the Turkana Basin Institute, headquartered in the U.S. at Stony Brook University.
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Museum astrophysicist Jacqueline Faherty, who recently completed her doctorate under the supervision of Curator Michael Shara, was one of five students at Stony Brook University who received the 2011 President’s Award for Distinguished Doctoral Students.
Faherty’s dissertation looked at the kinematics of brown dwarfs—objects intermediate between planets and stars because they aren’t massive enough for nuclear fusion. The award citation is:
“For creating the largest extant catalog of uniform astrometric data on brown dwarfs, and for making signiﬁcant contributions to our understanding of the nature and physics of brown dwarfs based upon this astrometric data.”
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She’s new in town and she needs a name! Meet Mamenchisaurus, an 18-year-old vegetarian known for her 30-foot-long neck and for being one of the world’s largest dinosaurs. She recently arrived at the American Museum of Natural History, and thousands of people have come to see her so far. Like a lot of 18-year-olds, she also happens to love tweeting. But her full name, Mamenchisaurus hochuanensis, is too long to tweet. So let’s give her a nickname!
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Six years ago this spring, an announcement sent waves of excitement among birders and wildlife enthusiasts: an Ivory-billed Woodpecker, Campephilus principalis, generally thought to be extinct, had been sighted in an Arkansas swamp by a team of investigators. A blurry video of the large bird in flight seemed to provide supporting evidence.
Still, proof of the bird’s existence was not airtight. Subsequent visits, as well as audio and video recordings in the area, yielded no definitive results. The video showed an image that might have been that of a similar species, the Pileated Woodpecker. Both species have black and white wings, but with different patterns that are visible when the wings are extended in flight. While researchers fanned out to look for evidence in Arkansas, at the Museum, ornithologists turned to the collections to examine the wings.