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Showing blog posts tagged with Invertebrates

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Wasp Nest Project Weathers Storm

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A brief, blustery storm blew across the Museum’s Arthur Ross Terrace Wednesday evening, taking with it most of the scalloped cardboard structure of a human-sized wasp nest under construction there since Monday. Three British TV hosts are to be filmed living in the nest this weekend as part of a new Nat Geo WILD series called “Live Like an Animal.”

The unexpected need to rebuild the nest or “envelope” provided an object lesson in actual wasp behavior.

“It is a fact that wasps repair the envelope if the damage to the nest is not too great, where ‘too great’ means something like the nest falls down,” says James M. Carpenter, entomologist and curator in the Museum’s Division of Invertebrate Zoology, who is working in consultation with the television crew. “I’ve done experiments in envelope removal in the field myself and seen it.”

Tags: Invertebrates

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Ammonites Dined on Plankton

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Powerful synchrotron scans of Baculites fossils found on American Museum of Natural History expeditions to the Great Plains suggests that the extinct group of marine invertebrates to which they belong, the ammonites, had jaws and teeth adapted for eating small prey floating in the water. One ammonite also provided direct evidence of a planktonic diet because it died with its last meal in its mouth — tiny larval snails and crustacean bits. The detailed description of internal structure of ammonites, published by a Franco-American research team this week in Science, also provides new insights into why ammonites became extinct 65.5 million years ago when an asteroid impact led to the demise of the world’s nonavian dinosaurs and much of the plankton.

“I was astonished when I saw the teeth for the first time, and when I found the tiny plankton in the mouth,” says first author Isabelle Kruta of the Département Histoire de la Terre, Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle in Paris, France. Kruta began the project as an Annette Kade fellow at the American Museum of Natural History. “For the first time we could observe these delicate, exceptionally well-preserved structures and obtain information on the ecology of these enigmatic animals.”

Tags: Invertebrates

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