The American Museum of Natural History has a long tradition of exploration, including the anthropological work of the Jesup North Pacific Expedition of 1897, the zoological and ethnographic work undertaken by Herbert Lang and James Chapin in the Congo Basin from 1909 to 1915, the multidisciplinary Central Asiatic Expeditions of the 1920s, and the seven Archbold Expeditions to New Guinea and Australia that took place between 1933 and 1964. Fieldwork is still a core component of the Museum’s research and collection development activities and the AMNH sends out around 120 field expeditions each year. Wherever possible, students at the Richard Gilder Graduate School are offered the opportunity to participate in collecting expeditions, in support of their own research and as part of their training. A few examples of recent expeditions are shown on this page.
Since 1990, the Division of Paleontology has organized joint expeditions to the Gobi Desert of Mongolia with the Mongolian Academy of Sciences. Continuing the tradition of groundbreaking work in this region that was established by the Museum’s Central Asiatic Expeditions of the 1920s, this new generation of expeditions has led to spectacular discoveries of dinosaurs, birds and mammals.
Ongoing biodiversity surveys and inventories of the fish and mollusk faunas of the Lower Congo rapids are yielding large collections of specimens, which are combined with remote sensing technology to investigate pressing questions concerning the evolutionary history and ecological interactions of aquatic organisms in this region, as well as providing critical biodiversity data for conservation planning.
Over the past three decades, researchers from the Division of Anthropology have used archaeological field projects in the Tehuacán Valley and Cañada de Cuicatlán in Oaxaca, Mexico, to investigate the development of ancient Mesoamerican chiefdoms and early states, militarism and resistance, and water-management techniques and strategies.
As part of a large-scale project to investigate the higher-level evolutionary relationships of spiders and their relatives, researchers from the Museum’s Scorpion Systematics Research Group have been collecting at sites across South America, including Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, French Guiana, and Uruguay.
Researchers from the AMNH’s Center for Biodiversity and Conservation are collaborating with colleagues from the Wildlife Conservation Society and Malagasy researchers to collect tissue samples from humpback whales. These are being used to build a genetic database of samples from Madagascar and elsewhere in the southern Atlantic and southwestern Indian Oceans, for a comprehensive assessment of movements between populations.