A Look Back at Top Blog Posts in 2014

News posts

From a poison mystery to dispatches from a paleo expedition to Mongolia, here is a look at some favorite blog posts from 2014. 

Researchers Reveal Covert World of Fish Biofluorescence

In January, a team of researchers led by Museum scientists released the first report of widespread biofluorescence in the tree of life of fishes, identifying more than 180 species that glow in a wide range of colors and patterns.


 

Polar Bear Diet Changes as Sea Ice Melts

Studies by Museum scientists suggest that polar bears in the warming Arctic are turning to alternate food sources. As Arctic sea ice melts earlier and freezes later each year, polar bears must spend more time on land and are using flexible foraging strategies.

A polar bear, Ursus maritmus, eats a seal, its historically preferred prey. © AMNH/R. Rockwell

A polar bear, Ursus maritmus, eats a seal, its historically preferred prey.

© AMNH/R. Rockwell


 

 

Poison: What Killed Napoleon?

Was Napoleon Bonaparte poisoned? This mystery—which was featured in the 2013–2014 Museum exhibition The Power of Poison—has intrigued historians since the defeated French emperor’s death on May 5, 1821.

The Emperor Napoleon in his study at the Tuileries.
  


 Via Wikimedia Commons/National Gallery of Art
The Emperor Napoleon in his study at the Tuileries.

Via Wikimedia Commons/National Gallery of Art


 

Amazing Ammonites 

The extinct mollusks known as ammonites inhabited the planet for more than 300 million years—almost twice as long as dinosaurs. In 2014, the Museum’s collections grew by about 150,000 ammonite specimens with the addition of the Mapes marine fossil collection, donated by Ohio University.

The Museum's collection of ammonites is housed in the Invertebrate Paleontology Collection, which includes an estimated 4.5 million specimens. © AMNH/D. Finnin

The Museum's collection of ammonites is housed in the Invertebrate Paleontology Collection, which includes an estimated 4.5 million specimens.

© AMNH/D. Finnin


 

 

Archival Image Treasure Trove Goes Online

In April, some 7,000 archival photographs, rare book illustrations, drawings, notes, letters, and memorabilia from the Museum's expeditions, exhibitions, and research came online with the launch of Digital Special Collections.

Roy Chapman Andrews (left) and George Olsen photographed "at the nest of the even dozen Dinosaur eggs" during the Museum’s Third Central Asiatic Expedition, Mongolia, 1925. © AMNH/J. Shackelford

Roy Chapman Andrews (left) and George Olsen photographed "at the nest of the even dozen Dinosaur eggs" during the Museum’s Third Central Asiatic Expedition, Mongolia, 1925.

© AMNH/J. Shackelford


 

Sea Anemone Tree of Life Reveals Giant Species as Impostor

A deep-water creature once thought to be one of the world’s largest sea anemones, with tentacles reaching more than 6.5 feet long, belongs to a new order of animals, Museum researchers reported in May. 

This unidentified specimen belonging within Relicanthidae is a sea creature that was previously thought to be a giant sea anemone (order Actiniaria). New research places this animal in a new order—a classification equal to Carnivora in mammals or Crocodilia in reptiles. The species, which lives near hydrothermal vents, has tentacles reaching more than 6.5 feet long. © NERC CHESSO project

This unidentified specimen belonging within Relicanthidae is a sea creature that was previously thought to be a giant sea anemone (order Actiniaria). New research places this animal in a new order—a classification equal to Carnivora in mammals or Crocodilia in reptiles. The species, which lives near hydrothermal vents, has tentacles reaching more than 6.5 feet long.

© NERC CHESSO project


Fieldwork Journal: A Day in the Life of a Paleontologist

Jack Tseng, a postdoctoral fellow in the Division of Paleontology, blogged about a day in the life of a paleontologist during an expedition to Inner Mongolia in August.

Camille applying a plaster coating, called a jacket, to a rhino leg-bone at a new locality in northeastern Abaga Banner. The jacket will protect the specimen during transport. © J. Tseng

Camille applying a plaster coating, called a jacket, to a rhino leg-bone at a new locality in northeastern Abaga Banner. The jacket will protect the specimen during transport.

© J. Tseng


Lonesome George and the Galapagos Today

With the opening in September of the exhibition about Lonesome George, the famed Galapagos tortoise that was the last of his species, the Museum hosted an in-depth conversation about biodiversity and conservation. 

 

© AMNH/R. Mickens

© AMNH/R. Mickens


A Rare Beauty

As the Butterfly Conservatory re-opened in the fall, we highlighted a Queen Alexandra’s Birdwing from the Museum’s collection—the world’s largest butterfly and also one of the most endangered.

Ornithoptera alexandrae ©AMNH/D.Finnin

Ornithoptera alexandrae

©AMNH/D.Finnin


 

Seven Questions for Collections Dean Scott Schaefer

Dr. Schaefer, who oversees the Museum’s 33-million-strong scientific holdings, talked shop in November as we launched Shelf Life, our new original series about the Museum’s collections.

Scott Schaefer holds a jar of about 65 specimens of the Vandellia catfish, or candiru, from the Museum's ichthyology collections. This parasitic species has a legendary reputation for entering the urethras of unwary humans, but it more typically finds a meal by swimming into the gill chambers of larger fish.   ©AMNH/E. Chapman

Scott Schaefer holds a jar of about 65 specimens of the Vandellia catfish, or candiru, from the Museum's ichthyology collections. This parasitic species has a legendary reputation for entering the urethras of unwary humans, but it more typically finds a meal by swimming into the gill chambers of larger fish.  

©AMNH/E. Chapman


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