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Last Chance: Butterfly Conservatory Closes May 30

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Catch The Butterfly Conservatory: Tropical Butterflies Alive in Winter, a live-animal exhibition where visitors can mingle with up to 500 butterflies among tropical flowers and vegetation, before it closes on Monday, May 30.

Watch as Hazel Davies, manager of Living Exhibits at the Museum, and Whitney Doreen Ortiz walk through the vivarium and interact with butterflies from around the world, including blue morphos, striking scarlet swallowtails, and large owl butterflies.

Tags: Butterflies

Sundays Under the Whale: Jarod Miller

Sundays Under the Whale: Jarod Miller

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On Sunday, May 15, zoologist and TV host Jarod Miller will bring a menagerie of extra-large animals to the Museum for the Milstein Science Series’ Sundays Under the Whale: Living Large program. Below, Miller answers a few questions about what it takes to live large.

You’re bringing several animals—a reticulated python, a mandrill, a jaguar, and an Eagle Owl. What are some of the factors that allowed these animals to become so large?

There are many factors that allow animals to grow large. Space, resources, available prey, and environmental conditions all contribute to an animal’s need and ability to grow big, compete, and evolve in a specific habitat. In the case of reptiles, climate plays a very important role because they are exothermic, or cold-blooded. Crocodiles,pythons, and Komodo dragons all live in regions with hot climates, which provide the ideal environment for growth.

Tags: Children's Programs

Inside View: The World's Largest Dinosaurs

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The World’s Largest Dinosaurs, a new exhibition at the American Museum of Natural History, goes beyond traditional fossil shows to reveal how dinosaurs actually lived by taking visitors into the amazing biology of a uniquely super-sized group of dinosaurs: the long-necked and long-tailed sauropods, which ranged in size from 15 to 150 feet long.

In this video, go behind the scenes with The World’s Largest Dinosaurs curators Mark Norell and Martin Sander and as they explain the science behind the exhibition. Learn how dinosaur fossils are stored and cataloged from Carl Mehling, a scientific assistant at the Museum.

Tags: Paleontology, Dinosaurs

Spinning Goblin Spider: Stenoops peckorum

Spinning Goblin Spider: Stenoops peckorum

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This posterior lateral spinneret, a silk-spinning organ of a spider, features frond-like setae and whorls of exoskeleton. It belongs to a female Stenoops peckorum, a newly discovered species of goblin spider from southern Florida.

This species was among 17 new species of goblin spider discovered in 2010 by Norman Platnick, the Peter J. Solomon Family curator emeritus in the Division of Invertebrate Zoology at the American Museum of Natural History.

Despite their fearsome name, goblin spiders are tiny. They tend to be less than 2 millimeters in length. The spinneret pictured above is approximately 30 micrometers across, roughly the diameter of a thin strand of hair.

The five protrusions at the center of the spinneret are spigots that produce a single type of spider silk. The silk, sometimes in combination with silk from other spinnerets, can be used in any number of ways, including reproduction or navigation, but not for a conventional prey-trapping spider web.

“All spiders do make silk, they just don’t always use it to catch food,” says Platnick. Instead, goblin spiders hunt down and devour whatever small insects they can catch.

Tags: Spiders

Human Evolution and Why It Matters: A Conversation with Leakey and Johanson

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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 on May 5 to discuss the overwhelming evidence for evolution in the hominid fossil record and why understanding our evolutionary history is so important. The discussion, before a sold-out crowd in the Museum’s LeFrak Theater, was moderated by Dr. Sanjay Gupta, chief medical correspondent for CNN. The event was also live-streamed on to a digital audience of several hundred viewers around the country.

Tags: Human Evolution