Moore Laboratory of Zoology

Moore Laboratory of Zoology The world's largest Mexican bird collection and a research group blending museum collections with DNA technology at Occidental College in Los Angeles.
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The Moore Lab of Zoology houses 65,000 bird specimens and 2,000 mammal specimens, most collected from 1933-1955 in Mexico. It is the largest Mexican bird collection in the world and a destination for those studying Mexican birds. Our mission is to understand how Earth's amazing biodiversity was generated through the forces of evolution, and how it's now coping with environmental changes. We blend

The Moore Lab of Zoology houses 65,000 bird specimens and 2,000 mammal specimens, most collected from 1933-1955 in Mexico. It is the largest Mexican bird collection in the world and a destination for those studying Mexican birds. Our mission is to understand how Earth's amazing biodiversity was generated through the forces of evolution, and how it's now coping with environmental changes. We blend

Operating as usual

Our 3D birds project was featured in Scientific American today! They did a wonderful job capturing the project and Moore...
06/30/2021
See the Beautiful Color of Rare Birds from Every Angle and in Three Dimensions

Our 3D birds project was featured in Scientific American today! They did a wonderful job capturing the project and Moore Lab. We wish they had had more room to push the student developers Josh and Noah Medina to the foreground of the story because they have made the project go boom. Enjoy!

A new project will create high-definition interactive models of 2,000 feathered flyers.

Sometimes you have to put the specimens on a hand-drawn map of Mexico to figure out what’s really going on——————————————...
06/16/2021

Sometimes you have to put the specimens on a hand-drawn map of Mexico to figure out what’s really going on
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#redwarbler #warblers #museumspecimens #museumcollection #handdrawn #map #geographicvariation #handdrawnmap #birdcollection #collectionsareessential

Sometimes you have to put the specimens on a hand-drawn map of Mexico to figure out what’s really going on
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#redwarbler #warblers #museumspecimens #museumcollection #handdrawn #map #geographicvariation #handdrawnmap #birdcollection #collectionsareessential

The green of parrots 🦜 , like these Mexican Parrotlets (Forpus cyanopygius), is the result of yellow carotenoid pigments...
06/14/2021

The green of parrots 🦜 , like these Mexican Parrotlets (Forpus cyanopygius), is the result of yellow carotenoid pigments overlaid on blue structural color
💛+💙=💚
In this species, a lack of yellow pigment on the rump allows the blue underlayer to shine through like a brilliant butt beacon
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#buttbeacon #colorsci #colsci #colorscience #parrot #parrots #carotenoids #parrotlet #parrotlets #forpus #museum #museums #museumcollection

The green of parrots 🦜 , like these Mexican Parrotlets (Forpus cyanopygius), is the result of yellow carotenoid pigments overlaid on blue structural color
💛+💙=💚
In this species, a lack of yellow pigment on the rump allows the blue underlayer to shine through like a brilliant butt beacon
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#buttbeacon #colorsci #colsci #colorscience #parrot #parrots #carotenoids #parrotlet #parrotlets #forpus #museum #museums #museumcollection

Just another day of our crew absolutely rocking collection organization and labeling. What a spread of biodiversity!🦜As ...
06/08/2021

Just another day of our crew absolutely rocking collection organization and labeling. What a spread of biodiversity!🦜
As a reminder, these specimens were collected over the course of a century dispersed over hundreds of localities. None of the species are extinct. We do have examples of a few extinct species, all caused by human activities like overhunting for economic gain and habitat loss. Today, the biggest threats to birds are outdoor cats and windows
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#biodiversity #collectionsareessential #museum #museums #museumcollections #ornithology #bird #birds #manakin #manakins

Tanagers, colorful birds of the Americas in the family Thraupidae, made their way into texts shortly after specimens and...
06/06/2021

Tanagers, colorful birds of the Americas in the family Thraupidae, made their way into texts shortly after specimens and live birds were brought back to Europe during the Age of Exploration in the 15th Century. The word tanager likely derives from the word tangará used by Brazil’s Tupi people, and it appears in Latin zoological texts as tanagra as early as 1610. By 1801, George Shaw introduces this bird he calls a Collared Tanager in volume 13 of The
Naturalist’s Miscellany. Can anyone ID the species?
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#tanager #tanagers #illustration #natureillustrationart #vintagebooks #history #natureart

The Firewood-gatherer, a species in the ovenbird family Furnariidae, not only has one of the great common names, but als...
06/05/2021

The Firewood-gatherer, a species in the ovenbird family Furnariidae, not only has one of the great common names, but also a fabulous scientific name, Anumbius annumbi. (Perhaps it’s just me, but I can only say it to the cadence of the Addams Family song.)
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It’s common name comes from the fact that it is often seen carrying sticks to build its bulky nests. Nest photo by Cláudio Dias Timm from Rio Grande do Sul • CC BY-SA 2.0
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#birdnames #funbirds #ornithology #firewood #bird #birds #specimens #birdstories #birdlore #museum #specimens #museumcollections #collectionsareessential

Undergrad @r.odrigo_s.olares ‘22 is tracking down our old Los Angeles specimens associated with the little data book we ...
06/04/2021

Undergrad @r.odrigo_s.olares ‘22 is tracking down our old Los Angeles specimens associated with the little data book we found and posted about a while back. So far he has located about 150 of 250 specimens collected in Los Angeles from 1905-1910. Once reunited with their data on date and location, they will become valuable research specimens bearing on change to L.A.‘s birdlife through time. Incredible to think these birds and the data book survived so many moves from building to building and long pre-date the Moore Lab on campus (built 1951)
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#preservation #museum #museums #history #lahistory #ornithology #curator #collections #museumcollections #collectionsareessential #lostandfound #longlost #reunited

Our newly labeled hummingbird drawers get some immediate use from Noah, who is creating 3D models of 2,000 bird specimen...
06/04/2021

Our newly labeled hummingbird drawers get some immediate use from Noah, who is creating 3D models of 2,000 bird specimens representing most bird genera. Called oBird, for “outside of the bird,” the project will supply data on plumage color and morphometrics for comparative studies, as well as reference material for teachers and artists. Stayed tuned as we roll out some 3D models!
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#museum #museums #3d #photogrammetry #hummingbird #hummingbirds #taxonomy #organization #organized #neatandtidy #labeling #systematics

Our newly labeled hummingbird drawers get some immediate use from Noah, who is creating 3D models of 2,000 bird specimens representing most bird genera. Called oBird, for “outside of the bird,” the project will supply data on plumage color and morphometrics for comparative studies, as well as reference material for teachers and artists. Stayed tuned as we roll out some 3D models!
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#museum #museums #3d #photogrammetry #hummingbird #hummingbirds #taxonomy #organization #organized #neatandtidy #labeling #systematics

Yellow Warblers peeking out of our new cases (photo by @dirtbagdarling). Our students @alanapiz @kelseyreck & @paloma.pa...
06/02/2021

Yellow Warblers peeking out of our new cases (photo by @dirtbagdarling). Our students @alanapiz @kelseyreck & @paloma.pajaro are adding labels to the drawers at a rapid pace!
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#yellowwarbler #warblers #ornithology #museum #museums #organization #organized

Yellow Warblers peeking out of our new cases (photo by @dirtbagdarling). Our students @alanapiz @kelseyreck & @paloma.pajaro are adding labels to the drawers at a rapid pace!
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#yellowwarbler #warblers #ornithology #museum #museums #organization #organized

The Turquoise-browned Motmot (Eumomota superciliosa) is a spectacular and evolutionarily interesting bird found in the Y...
05/27/2021

The Turquoise-browned Motmot (Eumomota superciliosa) is a spectacular and evolutionarily interesting bird found in the Yucatán, Chiapas & Central America. The bird is born with a complete tail, but some barbs naturally weaken and shed to form the distinctive racket tail, which is longer and more flamboyant in this species compared to other motmots
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Although both males and females have the racket tail, it probably serves as a sexual signal, since the male’s is longer and more brightly colored. It could also serve in pair-bonding rituals since mates are often maintained over several years
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One of the most surprising things about this species is that it nests in a burrow on the ground! Colonial nesting of many pairs in the same area might reduce loss of nests and nestlings to snake predation. Come on, motmot, you can fly! Get up there in a tree to protect the babies!
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#motmot #motmots #racket #ornithology #birds #naturalhistory #birdtales #amazingbirds

An innocent bird, with a dark past. Every Lesser Honeyguide (Indicator minor) started as an egg laid by its mother in an...
05/26/2021

An innocent bird, with a dark past. Every Lesser Honeyguide (Indicator minor) started as an egg laid by its mother in another bird’s nest. When the egg hatched, the baby honeyguide was armed with a dagger on its beak, which it used to systematically kill the other nestlings, leaving only itself. Was further proof ever needed that #natureaintnice?
🗡
Nestling photo is of a Greater Honeyguide by Claire Spottiswoode
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#honeyguide #honeybadger #honeybadgerdontcare #natureismetal #natureisbrutal #natureisscary #scary #nightmares #museum #museums #adaptation #parasite #parasites

05/24/2021

Iridescent feathers are incredible structures when viewed up close! They almost seem to form plates with their arrays of barbs, which refract light in just the right angle to produce a flash of light
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White-eared Hummingbird (Basilinna leucotis). Another of those common names that rather seems to miss the point
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#iridenscent #iridescence #hummingbird #hummingbird #whiteearedhummingbird #feather #feathers #feather_perfection #colorscience #colsci #color #colors #colorful #colormelt

7, 8, lay them straight. 9, 10 do it again! @paloma.pajaro & @alanapiz continue to bring order to the hummingbird family...
05/23/2021

7, 8, lay them straight. 9, 10 do it again! @paloma.pajaro & @alanapiz continue to bring order to the hummingbird family
🧮
Periodic reminder: our specimens were collected mostly between 1920-1955 from Mexico to Argentina. Very few of a given species were collected from any one place and time, meaning the populations and species as a whole were not impacted. Today these specimens continue to produce scientific insights that lay the foundation for understanding how biodiversity forms and how to protect it #collectionsareessential
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#laythemstraight #organizing #organization #neatness #mariekondo #tidyingup #hummingbirds #humminbird #specimens #museum #museums #biodiversity #ducksinarow #inarow #lineup #straightenupandflyright

Owls are known for their mottled and muted colors but they reflect a lot in the ultraviolet range of light, normally inv...
03/24/2021

Owls are known for their mottled and muted colors but they reflect a lot in the ultraviolet range of light, normally invisible to humans!
🦉
Noah Medina is currently dialing in the workflow for the particular needs of UV photography, to make the invisible visible
🦉
Noah is taking a gap year from his undergrad (!) studies in Applied Math & Biology to run the 3D birds project
🦉
Specimen: Burrowing Owl collected near Mexico City in 1931
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#3d #3dmodeling #3dmodel #photogrammetry #3dbirds #ornithology #owl #owls #uv #uvlight #ultraviolet #owlsofinstagram #owlsareawesome

🚨New research🚨We get asked all the time: What’s going on with the parrots in Los Angeles? We are happy to share some new...
03/15/2021

🚨New research🚨We get asked all the time: What’s going on with the parrots in Los Angeles? We are happy to share some new research that answers a few of the questions: https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.03.11.435041v1
🦜
In brief, we looked at the two most common species: Lilac-crowned & Red-crowned Parrots, which also happen to be evolutionary siblings separated at birth about a million years ago on opposite coasts of Mexico. They colonized SoCal in the 1960s to 1980s through the pet trade
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Turns out they made a pretty huge ecological leap in this colonization. Their habitat now is very different from their home range, which might explain why they aren’t really spreading beyond the city
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Because they shifted into the same niche, they are also now hybridizing! But less than you might expect. Most individuals in SoCal are close to pure parental forms, but all show some history of gene flow between species
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This matters because these species are crashing in Mexico due to habitat loss and the very pet trade that brought them to SoCal. It’s nice to speculate that we have “just-in-case” rescue populations here, but the reality is trickier
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Data from our @inaturalist community science project FLAPP suggests that opposite species pairs are less common that you would expect based on their numbers, suggesting behavioral isolation keeping them distinct. But this could change!
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Best idea: preserve the parrots in their native ranges. Meanwhile our collab @socalparrot is giving injured SoCal parrots a good home while they rehab
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Museum specimens played a big role in establishing a baseline for genetic differences in Mexico before the pet trade
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This was a big collab effort: @jmaley1 @devder @ajzellmer @socalparrot @littlewhitbit & others
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Mural by @inkdwell & photos by @jmaley1
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#parrots #parrotsofinstagram #parrotsofig #moorelab #moorelabofzoology #occidentalcollege #eaglerock #curiosities #cabinetofcuriosities #museumcollections #museumlife #science #biology #birds #avesdemexico #ciencia #biologia #historianatural #ornithology #research #losangeles #nela #LAlife #museums #instamuseum #biologistlife #ilovebiology

Some field marks can be irrationally hard to see. Take the Pied-billed Grebe. Why pied? It’s a source of infinite questi...
03/14/2021

Some field marks can be irrationally hard to see. Take the Pied-billed Grebe. Why pied? It’s a source of infinite questions. Scroll photos to reveal its namesake field mark. Talk about a constant identification issue—yeesh!
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#piday #piday2021 #happypiday #31415 #314 #ornithology #piedbilledgrebe #dadjokes #badjokes #earlyaprilfools #gotyou #birdnerd

#Phylomoji can help answer some of humanity’s deepest mysteries, like “Which came first: the chicken or the egg?” As the...
02/28/2021

#Phylomoji can help answer some of humanity’s deepest mysteries, like “Which came first: the chicken or the egg?” As the phylogeny shows, the egg evolved in an ancient amniote, whereas chickens, as a group or species, evolved much later. That was easy!
🥚
Inspiration: @onlinememorybank
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#chickenortheegg #whichcamefirst #ornithology #phylogeny #riddles #evolution #emojichallenge #mysteries #riddles #dinosaurs #treeoflife #phylogenetics #biology #biologymemes #evolutionmemes

#Phylomoji can help answer some of humanity’s deepest mysteries, like “Which came first: the chicken or the egg?” As the phylogeny shows, the egg evolved in an ancient amniote, whereas chickens, as a group or species, evolved much later. That was easy!
🥚
Inspiration: @onlinememorybank
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#chickenortheegg #whichcamefirst #ornithology #phylogeny #riddles #evolution #emojichallenge #mysteries #riddles #dinosaurs #treeoflife #phylogenetics #biology #biologymemes #evolutionmemes

Trogon Phylogeny! Trogons (Family Trogonidae) are tropical species found worldwide but have a subradiation within the Am...
02/22/2021

Trogon Phylogeny! Trogons (Family Trogonidae) are tropical species found worldwide but have a subradiation within the Americas of ~30 species, which includes regular trogons (genus Trogon) as well as the spectacular quetzals. Within Trogon, there are two clades with very different patterns of plumage evolution
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In one clade, colors and differences between males and females are fairly stable. Males have wing coverts vermiculated (there’s that word again) with dark melanin (eumelanin) whereas the females are vermiculated with tan melanin (phaeomelanin)
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In clade 2, plumages and male/female differences are much more variable, as we outlined in our reel yesterday, and include mostly changes to eumelanin amount and expression, which changes vermiculation patterns
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#trogon #trogons #quetzal #quetzals #birdevolution #ornithology #feathers #patternsinnature #colsci #colorscience #patterns #phylogeny #treeoflife #vermiculation #vermiculations #vermiculated #birdspecimens #birdcollection #naturalhistorymuseum #collectionsareessential

02/05/2021
Records of Change

Thanks Biographic and love that this means we get to screen at the Cal Academy every once in a while 🙌

The genus Ramphocelus contains 9 spectacular species, some of which have “super black” plumage, a void-like black appear...
12/10/2020

The genus Ramphocelus contains 9 spectacular species, some of which have “super black” plumage, a void-like black appearance created through special scattering and absorption of light waves by feather nanostructures. This creates an optical illusion that enhances eye-popping colors nearby. The last images are from McCoy & Prum 2019: a scanning-electron microscope image of the back feathers of a Ramphocelus, and a diagram of how their dihedral shape and orientation work to trap lightwaves like a catcher’s mitt
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#color #colors #colsci #colorscience #vantablack #superblack #tanager #tanagers #redandyellow #ornithology #evolutionary #bird #birds #museumwonders #collectionsareessential #colorful #colortheory #sciart #colorpalette #ramphocelus #museumspecimens

This is getting weird. We had a juvenile Red-tailed Hawk found dead on campus today and delivered to us 😢 Another gorgeo...
12/07/2020

This is getting weird. We had a juvenile Red-tailed Hawk found dead on campus today and delivered to us 😢 Another gorgeous specimen for our research & teaching collection, but this is certainly an unusual volume of dead birds coming in (now 2 raptors & 2 woodpeckers recently). Perhaps a consequence of the hot, dry conditions & lack of rain?
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#raptor #raptors #hawk #hawks #redtailedhawk #specimens #biology #ornithology #taxidermy #deadbird #deadbirds #prettydeadthings

Hi all—been a while since we introduced ourselves! The Moore Lab is a research unit at @occidentalcollege whose goal is ...
12/06/2020

Hi all—been a while since we introduced ourselves! The Moore Lab is a research unit at @occidentalcollege whose goal is to understand & preserve biodiversity using museum specimens combined with the latest genomic tools
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The core of our program: 60,000 bird specimens, most collected between 1920-1955 all across Mexico & Central America. How do dead birds help us preserve species? First of all, nearly everything we currently know about species, even their names, is underwritten by museum specimens, whether you know it or not. Can’t protect something if it doesn’t have a name. Then, by learning more about how species formed, their genetic diversity—and how it has changed through time—we can make informed decisions about their future preservation
👩‍🎓
By training undergraduates in this modern approach to museum science, and conducting public outreach through tours & talks, we will fill out the ranks of the next generation of environmental scientists 💪
✍️
Interested? Get in touch
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Royal Flycatcher (Onychorhynchus coronatus)
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#museumscience #biology #conservation #evolutionarybiology #undergradresearch #undergraduateresearch #liberalarts #sciart #science #scienceiscool #genetics #genomics #dna #ornithology #birdscience #royalflycatcher #badhairdays

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Moore Laboratory Of Zoology Bird Rd
Los Angeles, CA
90041

General information

Founded: 1950 by Robert T. Moore Major Collectors: Chester C. Lamb (1932-1955, ~40,000), Ollala Family (~4,000), C.F. Underwood (~3,000), W.W. Brown (~2,500) Director: John McCormack http://faculty.oxy.edu/mccormack Collections Manager: James Maley Laboratory Technician: Whitney Tsai Previous Directors: Robert T. Moore; John Davis; Bill Hardy; Luis Baptista; Walt Koenig; John Hafner Web site: http://www.oxy.edu/moore-lab-zoology Twitter: @OxyMLZ Google Scholar profile: http://scholar.google.com/citations?user=bWoZAlcAAAAJ&hl=en

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Our Story

This history of the Moore Lab is as much a Los Angeles story as it is a story of the growth and use of museum collections. In 1929, the arrival of Robert Thomas Moore (1882-1958) to Los Angeles was splashed onto the pages of the Los Angeles Times. Moore, his wife Margaret, and their young daughter Marilynn had just returned from an expedition to Ecuador. There, Moore had scaled two of Ecuador’s most fearsome volcanoes, Mount Chimborazo and Mount Sangay, following in the footsteps of renowned explorers Alexander von Humboldt and George Miller Dyott, the latter of whom had failed to summit Sangay years earlier. Tales of derring-do were not all Moore brought back. Packed neatly into boxes were 3,000 bird specimens, which Moore and his colleagues, including the famed Olalla family of local collectors, had spent four months acquiring.

The motive for Moore’s move to California from Maine was ostensibly business. His Borestone Mountain Company was well known for breeding silver foxes, and the climate of the San Gabriel Mountains was gaining a reputation for providing them ideal conditions. But after he arrived, Moore devoted more of his time to another of his pursuits, ornithology. An affiliate of Caltech, Moore fell in with a burgeoning group of local ornithologists interested in bird taxonomy (or the describing and naming of biodiversity), including another Caltech affiliate, Donald R. Dickey, who by that time had amassed the largest privately held bird collection in the United States. When Dickey died suddenly in 1932, and Moore’s attempts to take control of his collection were thwarted, he decided to build his own collection that would rival and surpass Dickey’s.

To help him realize this vision, Moore turned to another Angeleno. Chester Converse Lamb (1882-1965) was a fixture in Los Angeles ornithology from his youth. In young adulthood, he moved to Berkeley along with a cadre of naturalists under the mentorship of the naturalist prodigy Joseph Grinnell, yet another Angeleno who became the first director of the Berkeley museum. Lamb had just finished years of grueling collections for Grinnell across the Baja peninsula, but parted ways with Berkeley on ill terms when he lost an eye in an accident and was denied a disability claim.

The fruits of Moore and Lamb’s collaboration were almost immediately apparent. In 1935, Moore trumpeted the discovery of a spectacular new species, the Tufted Jay (Cyanocorax dickeyi), which had somehow evaded Western knowledge through expeditions that had dissected Mexico for centuries prior.

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Apparently Robert T. Moore's house is haunted...