American Museum of Natural History

American Museum of Natural History The American Museum of Natural History is one of the world's preeminent scientific and cultural institutions.
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Since its founding in 1869, the American Museum of Natural History has collected more than 33 million specimens relating to the natural world and human cultures. The Museum showcases its amazing treasures in the exhibit halls, and behind the scenes more than 200 scientists are at work making new discoveries. Millions of people from around the world visit the Museum each year.

Did you know today is Leap Day? Once every four years or so, February gets a one-day extension that serves to sync the w...
02/29/2020

Did you know today is Leap Day? Once every four years or so, February gets a one-day extension that serves to sync the world’s most widely used civil calendar with the time it actually takes for the Earth to complete a full orbit around the Sun. If you ask anyone on the street how long a year is, you would probably get an answer of 365 days. In reality, though, it takes the Earth 365 days plus 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 45 seconds to make one trip around the Sun. Until the 16th century, the 365-day Julian calendar was commonly used, which simply added one day every four years to account for the discrepancy in timing. But a 5 hour, 48 minute, and 45 second surplus each year does not add up to exactly a quarter day; at 0.2421875 days, it’s just shy of that. So in 1582, Pope Gregory XIII introduced a modification—which would eventually be adopted globally—to realign everything. Dubbed the "Gregorian calendar,” it established these simple rules to determine if a year was a Leap Year: yes if the year can be evenly divided by four, and no if the year can be evenly divided by 100, unless the year is also evenly divisible by 400. So while the year 2000 was a Leap Year like 2020, the years 1800 and 1900 were not.
Photo: NASA/Terry Virts

Meet the White-throated Toucan (Ramphastos tucanus)! It’s also known as the Red-billed Toucan for its other distinct phy...
02/29/2020

Meet the White-throated Toucan (Ramphastos tucanus)! It’s also known as the Red-billed Toucan for its other distinct physical feature. This bird is native to parts of South America including Guyana and Brazil, where it inhabits lowland forests throughout the Amazon and forages for fruits, arthropods, and small vertebrates. It’s known for its boisterous calls—to distinguish a male’s call from a female’s, listen closely to the pitch. A female’s call will sound higher.
Photo: Ingrid Torres de Macedo, CC-BY-SA-4.0

NEW RESEARCH ALERT! What's made of plants, insects, bones... and fecal matter? Nests, or middens, made by packrats! This...
02/28/2020

NEW RESEARCH ALERT! What's made of plants, insects, bones... and fecal matter? Nests, or middens, made by packrats! This group of long-tailed nocturnal rodents live in arid regions across North America. By analyzing ancient packrat middens with next-generation DNA sequencing, Museum researchers have gotten a glimpse into Earth’s ancient ecology. The secret ingredient that preserves these tens-of-thousand year old nests? Urine! “Midden contents are so well preserved that fragments of ancient DNA can be extracted and analyzed across millennia,” said Rob Harbert, an assistant professor at Stonehill College who conceived of the study during his time as a postdoctoral researcher at the Museum. “Because of their dense distribution, fossil middens in the Americas offer the chance to genetically profile entire communities through time and space.”
Photo: © Rob Harbert, packrat nest pictured

02/28/2020

The 4-foot-long jaw. The 6-inch-long teeth. The tiny arms. T. rex needs no introduction this Fossil Friday. The first-ever mention of T. rex came in a letter written in August 1902 by legendary fossil hunter Barnum Brown to the Museum. Brown described his discovery in Montana of a heretofore unknown “large Carnivorous Dinosaur.” The next month, he reported, “There is no question but that this is the find of the season.” Ever since, T. rex has continuously captured the hearts and minds of curious people around the world. We now know that this animal—which lived at the very end of the Late Cretaceous, some 90 to 66 million years ago—was one of the largest, most fearsome predators of all time. Learn more and see it up close in the Hall of Saurischian Dinosaurs!
Photo: © AMNH

Where does the bobcat’s (Lynx rufus) common name come from? The “bob” refers to the feline’s stout tail, which is around...
02/28/2020

Where does the bobcat’s (Lynx rufus) common name come from? The “bob” refers to the feline’s stout tail, which is around 7 inches (19 centimeters) in length. It stands about 23 inches (58 centimeters) tall at the shoulder and weighs up to 33 pounds (15 kilograms). The wild cat has a wide range across North America, inhabiting much of the United States, southern Canada, and Mexico. It’s mainly nocturnal and goes on the prowl at night to find a meal. This carnivore has a varied menu, which includes small mammals, birds, and reptiles. One of its favorite things to eat? The cottontail rabbit.
Photo: Mike Baird

Lunch time? Get to know the Sandwich Tern (Thalasseus sandvicensis)! This bird isn’t named after the tasty meal—its comm...
02/27/2020

Lunch time? Get to know the Sandwich Tern (Thalasseus sandvicensis)! This bird isn’t named after the tasty meal—its common name actually originates from the town where it was first discovered: Sandwich in Kent, England. This tern has a wide range and might be spotted anywhere from the coastlines of eastern North America to western Europe and Africa. In fact, there are three subspecies of Sandwich Tern depending on the locale; each has slight differences in plumage and bill patterns. Two out of the three species have characteristic bills that are black with a yellow tip, while one of the subspecies’ bill is mostly yellow.
Photo: Trish Hartmann

A beary happy Throwback Thursday to you! It took an exceptional team of sculptors and painters to bring together our Ala...
02/27/2020

A beary happy Throwback Thursday to you! It took an exceptional team of sculptors and painters to bring together our Alaska brown bear (Ursus arctos) diorama in the early 1940s. It then took another team to brighten this specimen up during a renovation of the Hall of North American Mammals in 2011-2012. The model pictured below is made of clay and stands more than 8 feet tall. Visitors can see this same bear on the first floor of the Museum—it now sports a brown coat! 🐻
Photo: Image no. 317665 / ©AMNH

What’s black and yellow, covered in quills, and native to Madagascar? Meet the lowland streaked tenrec (Hemicentetes sem...
02/27/2020

What’s black and yellow, covered in quills, and native to Madagascar? Meet the lowland streaked tenrec (Hemicentetes semispinosus). Its quills can be deployed to discourage predators like the Malagasy ring-tailed mongoose and Dumeril boa. The quills aren’t just armor—they can also be used for communication! By rubbing quill tips together, the animal creates a sound that’s thought to signal others. An insectivore, the tenrec uses its pointy snout to go after earthworms and other small soft-bodied invertebrates.
Photo: Frank Vassen

It took millennia for the quartz crystals in this giant geode to turn into spectacular purple amethyst—but it’ll only ta...
02/26/2020

It took millennia for the quartz crystals in this giant geode to turn into spectacular purple amethyst—but it’ll only take a few more months for our redesigned Allison and Roberto Mignone Halls of Gems and Minerals to reopen! ;)

See you in Fall 2020.

Say “hi” to the Parakeet Auklet (Aethia psittacula)! Native to the North Pacific, this seabird is distinguished by its u...
02/26/2020

Say “hi” to the Parakeet Auklet (Aethia psittacula)! Native to the North Pacific, this seabird is distinguished by its unusual red bill, the shape of which is thought to aid the bird in catching slippery prey such as jellyfish and crustaceans. Males and females of the species have a similar appearance. During breeding season, pairs prefer to nest on offshore islands with few mammalian predators where they can make a home in crevices or burrows on rocky cliffs.
Photo: Art Sowls, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Did you know the largest terrestrial mammal native to the Amazon Rainforest is the Amazonian tapir (Tapirus terrestris)?...
02/26/2020

Did you know the largest terrestrial mammal native to the Amazon Rainforest is the Amazonian tapir (Tapirus terrestris)? Also known as the Brazilian tapir, this critter can weigh anywhere between 330 and 710 pounds (150 to 322 kilograms)! Because of its size, a tapir is a hearty meal for its predators, including jaguars. It’s somewhat defenseless but is a good swimmer, so it will often escape to the water in the face of danger to try and make its getaway.
Photo: Jean-Marc Rosier, CC-BY-SA-3.0

You may remember this bird from "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.” For ages, sailors have been superstitious of the alba...
02/25/2020

You may remember this bird from "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.” For ages, sailors have been superstitious of the albatross: seeing one was a sign of good weather, but injuring one was a sign of doom because these birds were thought to represent the souls of lost seafarers. Of all living birds today, the Wandering Albatross (Diomedea exulans) has the longest wingspan, reaching more than 11 feet (3.4 meters)! It uses the ocean breeze to glide for hours on end, without having to flap its massive wings, and spends most of its time at sea, feeding and roosting on the water’s surface. The albatross can live for more than 50 years.
Photo: JJ Harrison, CC-BY-SA-3.0

Welcome to Trilobite Tuesday! From the burning deserts of North Africa to the soaring mountains of South America, these ...
02/25/2020

Welcome to Trilobite Tuesday! From the burning deserts of North Africa to the soaring mountains of South America, these half-billion-year-old arthropods are omnipresent in the world’s Paleozoic outcrops. Trilobite fossils can be found on every continent on Earth—including Australia! An example? Pictured is a Silurian-age Odontopleura markhami, found in the sedimentary rocks of New South Wales. This diminutive 0.8-inch (2-centimeter)- long species is found as positive-negative “splits”–a trilobite fossil and its negative impression. On occasion, delicate eyes and spines may have adhered to the fossil’s negative half.

Unlike gemstones produced deep inside the Earth, pearls are created by living animals called mollusks. Mollusks commonly...
02/25/2020

Unlike gemstones produced deep inside the Earth, pearls are created by living animals called mollusks. Mollusks commonly have a soft, unsegmented body and a hard exterior shell, such as a clam or snail has. These animals live in marine and freshwater habitats as well as on land. The evolutionary history of this group extends back some 530 million years, with approximately 100,000 species of mollusks alive today. Any mollusk that produces a shell can produce a pearl. Nevertheless, naturally occurring pearls are rare, found in perhaps one of every 10,000 animals!
Photo: Tchami, giant clam (Tridacna maxima) pictured

02/24/2020
A History of Planetariums

How did planetariums evolve from showing the movements of the Sun, Moon, and other planetary bodies with astronomical clocks to using cutting-edge visualization software? In this video, learn about the scientific tools and the latest technology being used inside our own Hayden Planetarium to transport visitors to other worlds.

02/24/2020

It’s time for Memorabilia Monday! As the Museum celebrates its 150th anniversary, the Research Library is working to make items in the Museum’s vast collection of archival treasures more accessible to the public and researchers through the Shelby White and Leon Levy Archive Initiative. A few objects from the Museum’s Memorabilia Collection? Roy Chapman Andrews’ canteen and flashlight from the 1920s fossil-hunting expeditions! From 1921 to 1930, Andrews led several expeditions to Mongolia’s Gobi Desert, during which his team made numerous significant dinosaur and mammal fossil discoveries. It was there that his team also discovered dinosaur eggs, some of which you can find on display in the Museum's Hall of Ornithischian Dinosaurs!
Photo: © AMNH

The Tasmanian devil (Sarcophilus harrisii) needs no introduction. This rambunctious animal is known for its bold temper,...
02/24/2020

The Tasmanian devil (Sarcophilus harrisii) needs no introduction. This rambunctious animal is known for its bold temper, haunting calls, and impressive bite. It’s the world’s largest extant carnivorous marsupial, and it eats almost anything it comes across—bones and all! It mainly scavenges carrion, playing an important role in its ecosystem by helping to “clean up” any carcasses. But it also hunts small mammals, birds, and reptiles from time to time.
Photo: Mathias Appel

02/23/2020

Granite forms the core of many mountain chains, such as the Andes, Himalayas, and Sierra Nevada, and makes up most of the upper continental crust. The majority of granitic magmas are formed by melting near the base of continents. Granite is composed of crystals large enough to be seen because the magma cools and solidifies slowly at depth, giving individual crystals time to grow. This pink granite, from Llano, Texas, crystallized from magma. It contains potassium feldspar (pink), albite feldspar (white), quartz (gray), and biotite mica (black).
Photo: © AMNH

That’s no unicorn...it’s the Horned Screamer (Anhima cornuta)! This South American bird, which can be spotted in the low...
02/23/2020

That’s no unicorn...it’s the Horned Screamer (Anhima cornuta)! This South American bird, which can be spotted in the lowlands of the Amazon forest, sports a bonafide horn on its head. Made of cartilage, the horn grows as the bird ages and sometimes even breaks off—then grows back over time. Both males and females have them, and they’re thought to be ornamental. Horned Screamers are mainly herbivorous, but do snack on insects.
Photo: Wagner Machado Carlos Lemes

Painted turtles (Chrysemys picta) hibernate in an unusual place: at the bottom of a frozen lake, without any oxygen at a...
02/23/2020

Painted turtles (Chrysemys picta) hibernate in an unusual place: at the bottom of a frozen lake, without any oxygen at all! Buried in mud, these reptiles can survive four or five months without oxygen. They get energy from their body tissues, which cause a harmful substance called lactic acid to build up. The calcium in their hard, heavy shells reacts with the lactic acid, making it harmless.
Photo: Spencer, Wikimedia Commons, CC-BY-SA-3.0

It’s the Bat Hawk (Macheiramphus alcinus)! Named after its favorite snack, this raptor mainly feeds on small bats. It ha...
02/22/2020

It’s the Bat Hawk (Macheiramphus alcinus)! Named after its favorite snack, this raptor mainly feeds on small bats. It has a wide but fragmented range and might be seen in parts of Africa, Southeast Asia, and Papua New Guinea. It lives in a variety of habitats, such as forests, wetlands, and savannas, where it spends most of its day roosting on a perch. But when the Sun starts to set and bats come out, this bird is quick to strike. Within about a 20-minute timespan, it can catch and gulp down as many as 11 bats!
Photo: Gary Albert

Are you scaling back your brain activity like an Arctic ground squirrel (Spermophilus parryii) this weekend? During hibe...
02/22/2020

Are you scaling back your brain activity like an Arctic ground squirrel (Spermophilus parryii) this weekend? During hibernation, the critter reduces oxygen demand by—in effect—powering down its brain. It also lowers its core body temperature to just above freezing, allowing the connections between brain cells to wither. Like most hibernators, the squirrel rouses occasionally, ensuring that systems remain in working order. The neural connections re-establish themselves with amazing speed, and the little animal drifts back to sleep.
Photo: Alan Schimierer

Have you ever heard of the Gambian epauletted fruit bat (Epomophorus gambianus)? The bat is native to parts of Africa, i...
02/22/2020

Have you ever heard of the Gambian epauletted fruit bat (Epomophorus gambianus)? The bat is native to parts of Africa, including Senegal, Nigeria, and Ethiopia. Found in forest habitats, it feeds on fruits, using its sense of smell to spot sweet treats like mangos, guavas, or bananas. As a frugivore, it plays an important role in its ecosystem, both as a seed disperser and pollinator.
Photo: Charles J Sharp, CC-BY-SA-4.0

Meet the stumpy-spined cuttlefish (Sepia bandensis)! Native to the tropical waters of the Indo-Pacific, this cephalopod ...
02/21/2020

Meet the stumpy-spined cuttlefish (Sepia bandensis)! Native to the tropical waters of the Indo-Pacific, this cephalopod is often spotted in shallow areas near coral reefs or close to the sandy floor, where it can be spotted “walking” with its arms. Like other cephalopods, it’s a master of disguise and is able to blend in with its surroundings by altering its color and texture–and uses its morphing abilities to snag unsuspecting crustaceans.
Photo: Rickard Zerpe

02/21/2020

Happy Fossil Friday! Meet Glossotherium robustum, or the “tongue beast.” Glossotherium roamed the pampas of Argentina, a grassland region, about 30,000 years ago during the Pleistocene—just before the group’s extinction. As a mylodont sloth, it had more complex teeth than those of other groups of ground sloths. See this specimen up close in the Museum’s Hall of Primitive Mammals!
Photo: © AMNH

Did you know the Eurasian Pygmy Owl (Glaucidium passerinum) is the smallest owl in Europe? It only grows up to 7.5 inche...
02/21/2020

Did you know the Eurasian Pygmy Owl (Glaucidium passerinum) is the smallest owl in Europe? It only grows up to 7.5 inches (19 centimeters) long with a wingspan of up to 15.4 inches (39 centimeters). It may be tiny, but it has a large range spanning Norway to China and inhabits much of the area in between. The Eurasian Pygmy Owl lives in forests, scrublands, and wetlands, where it makes its home in tree cavities and feeds on a variety of critters, including small mammals and birds.
Photo: Mattias Björkman

02/20/2020

Today, matching belts of sedimentary rock, known as the Old Red Sandstone, are found in Scandinavia, the United Kingdom, and eastern North America. This puzzling distribution of similar rocks can be explained by plate tectonics. Sediments that originally formed 400 million years ago on a vast supercontinent were later separated when the landmass broke apart into the continents we see today. The sandstone pictured is from Siccar Point, Scotland. A similar specimen at the Museum was found in Monticello, New York. See both of them up close in the Museum’s Hall of Planet Earth!
Photo: © AMNH

This Throwback Thursday, let’s rewind to 1996. Preparators Jeanne Kelly and Marilyn Fox paint the background of an exhib...
02/20/2020

This Throwback Thursday, let’s rewind to 1996. Preparators Jeanne Kelly and Marilyn Fox paint the background of an exhibit showing the bones of the fish Xiphactinus in the Museum’s Hall of Vertebrate Origins. Its large skeletal cast hangs overhead. This species of fish thrived 85 million years ago during the Late Cretaceous, as dinosaurs’ reign was ending. Extending up to 17 feet (5.2 meters), the carnivorous animal could swallow a 6-foot-long fish whole. Giant teeth, winglike fins, and powerful swimming ability made Xiphactinus formidable ocean enemy. Spot both the bones and cast of Xiphactinus on the Museum’s fourth floor!
Photo: Image no. ptc-6633 / ©AMNH Library

The tarantula hawk (Hemipepsis)—neither a tarantula nor a hawk—is a wasp that preys on tarantulas in order to raise its ...
02/20/2020

The tarantula hawk (Hemipepsis)—neither a tarantula nor a hawk—is a wasp that preys on tarantulas in order to raise its young. Picture this: a tarantula hawk comes swooping down on a tarantula, then paralyzes it with venom delivered via a powerful stinger. The tarantula hawk then drags its victim to its burrow, where it lays an egg on the spider’s abdomen. Once the egg hatches a few days later, the larva feeds on the still-living spider, starting with non-vital organs! To humans, the sting of a tarantula hawk is a four on a scale of one to four on the Schmidt Sting Pain Index, behind only the sting of a bullet ant.
Photo: Astrobradley

02/19/2020

Obsidian doesn't look like the typical rock that you’d pick up in your backyard. That's because it’s actually volcanic glass, a comparatively rare and crystal-poor form of rhyolite, the most silica-rich lava. Obsidian forms when lava cools so quickly, there's no time for crystals to grow! This gives the rock a black, smooth, glossy shine. Since obsidian forms from magma, it is an igneous rock. See this specimen up close in the Museum's Hall of Planet Earth!
Photo: © AMNH

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200 Central Park W
New York, NY
10024

Subway: Take the B (weekdays) or C train to 81st Street/Museum of Natural History.

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For information on current exhibitions and upcoming events, visit http://www.amnh.org/calendar.

Opening Hours

Monday 10:00 - 17:45
Tuesday 10:00 - 17:45
Wednesday 10:00 - 17:45
Thursday 10:00 - 17:45
Friday 10:00 - 17:45
Saturday 10:00 - 17:45
Sunday 10:00 - 17:45

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Since its founding in 1869, the American Museum of Natural History has collected more than 34 million specimens relating to the natural world and human cultures. The Museum showcases its amazing treasures in the exhibit halls, and behind the scenes more than 200 scientists are at work making new discoveries. Millions of people from around the world visit the Museum each year.


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