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. 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.
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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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Happy birthday to Sir Isaac Newton, born on this day in 1642! Many historians consider him to be the first modern physic...
01/04/2021

Happy birthday to Sir Isaac Newton, born on this day in 1642! Many historians consider him to be the first modern physicist. He explained how gravity affects objects in Earth and in space with his three laws of motion. Newton showed that these laws apply to everything in the universe, from galaxies to grains of sand. He also invented the reflecting telescope.
Art: John Vanderbank, National Library of Wales

Say “hi” to the Madagascar day gecko (Phelsuma madagascariensis)! It’s one of the largest gecko species, growing as much...
01/04/2021

Say “hi” to the Madagascar day gecko (Phelsuma madagascariensis)! It’s one of the largest gecko species, growing as much as 10 inches (25.4 centimeters) long, with a mix of bright green and blue scales running along its body. Like other arboreal geckos, it has ridges, known as lamellae, with millions of microscopic hairs, or setae, on the underside of its toes. These help it cling to smooth, vertical surfaces as it climbs. Scientists have studied geckos’ sticky toes to design adhesives that let robots scale glass and metal surfaces.
Photo: Joachim S. Müller, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0, flickr

Did you know? Pronghorns are a singular cranial appendage, blending some traits of horns and antlers. The core of a pron...
01/03/2021

Did you know? Pronghorns are a singular cranial appendage, blending some traits of horns and antlers. The core of a pronghorn is bone, with a keratin sheath. But that horn-like sheath not only branches like an antler—it also gets shed every year. This hard-to-classify piece of headgear is found in just one animal today—the pronghorn. You can find a pronghorn at the Museum in the Hall of North American Mammals.
Photo: Yellowstone National Park, flickr

The visible Hawaiian Islands are part of a 3,700-mile-long range of undersea mountains called the Hawaiian Emperor seamo...
01/03/2021

The visible Hawaiian Islands are part of a 3,700-mile-long range of undersea mountains called the Hawaiian Emperor seamount chain. The waters around the island chain are famously good for sighting whales from shore. Recent undersea mapping of a particularly whale-rich area between Maui, Molokai, Lanai, and Kahoolawe explains why. The underwater landscape forms a relatively shallow, protected sea in the midst of the vast ocean. That makes it a watery playpen for the whale calves born there!
Photo: A. Debich/NOAA

The Golden Pheasant (Chrysolophus pictus) is here to provide some inspiration for your 2021 vision board. Males of the s...
01/03/2021

The Golden Pheasant (Chrysolophus pictus) is here to provide some inspiration for your 2021 vision board. Males of the species have a dazzling array of plumage that includes a golden-yellow crest, a bright red belly, along with patches of green and blue throughout its body. It inhabits the mountainous forests of western China, where it tends to stay grounded—the bird isn’t a great flyer and is only capable of short trips through the air. Plus, spending most of its time on the shaded forest floor helps protect its vibrant colors from fading in the sunlight.
Photo: Josh More, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0, flickr

Have you ever seen a blue button (Porpita porpita)? While it looks like a jellyfish, it’s actually a colony of hydrozoan...
01/02/2021

Have you ever seen a blue button (Porpita porpita)? While it looks like a jellyfish, it’s actually a colony of hydrozoan polyps! It has two main parts: the center “button” and the hydroid strands. The inch-wide center button is filled with gas and is crucial to keeping the organism afloat. The tentacle-like structures is the hydroid colony, which catches passing zooplankton for nourishment. The end of each “tentacle” has stinging cells that can cause minor irritation to human skin.
Photo: Adityamadhav83, CC-BY-SA-3.0, Wikimedia Commons

For the first Caturday of 2021 we present you with the margay (Leopardus wiedii)! It’s also known as the long-tailed cat...
01/02/2021

For the first Caturday of 2021 we present you with the margay (Leopardus wiedii)! It’s also known as the long-tailed cat because its tail can grow up to 20 inches long (50.8 centimeters). It ranges from parts of Mexico to Argentina and lives in forests, where it spends much of its time in the tree canopy. With flexible toes and wide paws, it’s skilled at climbing and moving through the trees. It can even hang from a branch with its hind foot! These traits come in handy when hunting for birds, small mammals, and reptiles.
Photo: Supreet Sahoo, CC-BY-SA-4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Here’s something to think about as you kick off 2021: we are all stardust. Every atom of oxygen in our lungs, of carbon ...
01/02/2021

Here’s something to think about as you kick off 2021: we are all stardust. Every atom of oxygen in our lungs, of carbon in our muscles, of calcium in our bones, of iron in our blood—was created inside a star before Earth was born. Hydrogen and helium, the lightest elements were produced in the Big Bang. Almost all of the other, heavier, elements were produced inside stars. Stars forge heavy elements by fusion in their cores. In a star of intermediate mass, these elements can mix into the star’s atmosphere and be spread into space through stellar winds.
Image: NASA

It’s time to shed 2020 and start anew, like a caterpillar metamorphosing into a butterfly. The most dramatic part of met...
01/01/2021

It’s time to shed 2020 and start anew, like a caterpillar metamorphosing into a butterfly. The most dramatic part of metamorphosis takes place inside the skin of the pupa, or the chrysalis. During this stage of metamorphosis, which can take from two weeks to several months, the larval tissues completely break down and reorganize. The outlines of adult features—the wings, eyes, tongue, antennae, and body segments—can be seen on the surface of the pupal skin. When fully formed, the pupal case splits, and the butterfly emerges. The butterfly first expels its meconium, metabolic waste products that have accumulated during the pupal stage. It then expands its shriveled wings—by pumping them full of blood—before flying off. Cheers to new beginnings and spreading your wings!
Photo: Sid Mosdell, CC BY 2.0, flickr

Happy Fossil Friday—we hope you have a mammoth of a year! To help you start, here’s the Museum’s great standing skeleton...
01/01/2021

Happy Fossil Friday—we hope you have a mammoth of a year! To help you start, here’s the Museum’s great standing skeleton Mammuthus, the mammoth. Found in Indiana, it lived about 11,000 years ago. Mammoths were larger than their relatives the woolly mammoths but lacked their long, coarse hair. The case at the base of the mammoth holds the mummified remains of "Effie," a baby woolly mammoth found in an open-pit gold mine in Alaska in 1948. After Effie died about 21,000 years ago, its remains were preserved in the frozen ground. See it up close in the Hall of Advanced Mammals!
Photo: D. Finnin/© AMNH

Shine bright, like a Diamond Dove (Geopelia cuneata), as you head into the New Year. While this bird doesn’t sparkle in ...
01/01/2021

Shine bright, like a Diamond Dove (Geopelia cuneata), as you head into the New Year. While this bird doesn’t sparkle in the same way as its namesake gem does, it has a white-speckled pattern along its wings that might remind one of a diamond’s glittering surface. It’s one of the smallest species of dove, with an average length of 8.5 inches (21.5 centimeters) and average weight of 1.3 ounces (35.5 grams). Seeds make up a majority of its diet, though it does snack on the occasional insect.
Photo: Andres Bertens, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0, flickr

You might be watching a ball drop tonight, but in the meantime here’s another one to occupy your time: the giant puffbal...
12/31/2020

You might be watching a ball drop tonight, but in the meantime here’s another one to occupy your time: the giant puffball (Calvatia gigantea)! Not your typical mushroom, this round off-white fungus ranges in size from a softball to a beach ball. Since it doesn't have a stem, it "sits" on lawns and meadows, absorbing nutrients from the soil. A mature giant puffball contains trillions of tiny spores that emerge as a puff of "smoke" if the mushroom is tapped or kicked.
Photo: Alan Wolf, CC BY-NC 2.0, flickr

With its sharp senses and quiet movements, the red fox (Vulpes vulpes) is an excellent hunter, able to hear a mouse sque...
12/31/2020

With its sharp senses and quiet movements, the red fox (Vulpes vulpes) is an excellent hunter, able to hear a mouse squeak 100 feet (30 meters) away! After mating, a female red fox—called a “vixen”—will often prepare multiple underground dens, some as long as 75 feet (23 meters) with multiple chambers for nesting and food storage, in case the original den becomes unusable. Two pairs of foxes can occupy the same burrow at once, and the same den is often reused over multiple generations. Once the kits are born, the adult males and females work together to rear them. When the kits are old enough, their parents offer them live prey to “play” with, fostering hunting skills.
Photo: Martha de Jong-Lantink, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0, flickr

Behold, the green-underside blue (Glaucopsyche alexis)! This striking butterfly has a wide range across parts of Europe,...
12/30/2020

Behold, the green-underside blue (Glaucopsyche alexis)! This striking butterfly has a wide range across parts of Europe, Asia, and North Africa. It prefers meadows that are bountiful with its host plant, vetch. To tell apart a male from a female, look closely at the back of the wings: males have blue wings with black edges, while females are a mix of brown and blue. Both have a patch of green on the undersides of their wings.
Photo: Anne SORBES, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0, flickr

12/30/2020

Did you know? The Museum’s Origami Tree is on display through January 17! The theme of this year’s 13-foot tree is Cranes and Colors, featuring 1,000 brilliantly colored origami cranes, presented as symbols of peace and good wishes as New York continues to endure the many challenges posed by COVID-19, and drawing inspiration from The Nature of Color special exhibition, which explores the role and power of color in the natural world. See it up close this week—the Museum is open every day, including New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.
Photo: © AMNH

The wrinkle-faced bat (Centurio senex), which can be spotted in parts of Venezuela, Mexico, and Trinidad and Tobago, may...
12/30/2020

The wrinkle-faced bat (Centurio senex), which can be spotted in parts of Venezuela, Mexico, and Trinidad and Tobago, may have good uses for those creases! Scientists think that the deep folds on the bat’s face help to channel extra juice to its mouth when it feeds on ripe fruit. Moreover, a partly-translucent-fold of skin on its chin is pulled over the face when roosting, allowing it to stay aware of its surroundings when resting. Males, who typically have more folds than females, also have scent glands in their “wrinkles.”
Photo: Jplevraud, CC-BY-SA-3.0, Wikimedia Commons

12/29/2020
What Color Is a Blue Whale?

The huge icon hanging in the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life has been a visitor favorite for decades. But over time, the way we see whales has changed dramatically. Oceanographer and explorer Sylvia Earle tells the story of filming whales underwater, and Museum staff reveal how whale models have been refined through the years.

12/29/2020
What Color Is a Blue Whale?

The huge icon hanging in the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life has been a visitor favorite for decades. But over time, the way we see whales has changed dramatically. Oceanographer and explorer Sylvia Earle tells the story of filming whales underwater, and Museum staff reveal how whale models have been refined through the years.

Welcome to the last Trilobite Tuesday of 2020! Pictured is a well-preserved specimen of the Middle Cambrian trilobite Ca...
12/29/2020

Welcome to the last Trilobite Tuesday of 2020! Pictured is a well-preserved specimen of the Middle Cambrian trilobite Cambropallas telesto. If imitation is flattery, this is one of the most flattered fossil species around! Over the last three decades, as faux-trilobite fossils have flooded the natural history scene, Cambropallas telesto is one of the most oft-replicated trilobites.

Peek-a-boo! It's the bobbit worm (Eunice aphroditois). This giant marine worm lurks beneath the ocean floor, growing as ...
12/29/2020

Peek-a-boo! It's the bobbit worm (Eunice aphroditois). This giant marine worm lurks beneath the ocean floor, growing as much as 10 to 20 feet (3 to 6 meters) long. It’s a ravenous predator that burrows underground with its head facing upwards, waiting for prey. It doesn’t have eyes or a brain, but it does have five antennae that it sticks out above the sand to sense for and lure in unsuspecting fish. When prey get near, the bobbit worm strikes at a lightning speed with powerful jaws, snatches its meal, and pulls it down below.
Photo: Jenny, CC-BY-2.0, flickr

What’s an indri (Indri indri)? It’s a large lemur from the rainforests of Madagascar! This arboreal critter spends most ...
12/28/2020

What’s an indri (Indri indri)? It’s a large lemur from the rainforests of Madagascar! This arboreal critter spends most of its time in the treetop and can jump as much as 30 feet (10 meters) to get from one branch to another! Its diet primarily consists of leaves, fruits, and seeds. These primates are monogamous, and after they’ve reached sexual maturity, females reproduce every two to three years. Unfortunately, the indri is critically endangered and threatened by habitat destruction and poaching.
Photo: David Cook, CC BY-NC 2.0, flickr

Are you feeling a bit sluggish this Monday? If so, you’re in good company—meet the red triangle slug (Triboniophorus gra...
12/28/2020

Are you feeling a bit sluggish this Monday? If so, you’re in good company—meet the red triangle slug (Triboniophorus graeffei)! Its namesake red triangle is where you’ll find its breathing pore. This Australian critter inhabits forests and woodlands, where it might be spotted on the bark of a eucalyptus tree feeding on microscopic algae. It has a unique and effective defense mechanism: when threatened, it can “superglue” predators to a surface by emitting a sticky mucus. The sticky substance can stop a foe, like a hungry frog, in its tracks!
Photo: David Lochlin, CC BY 2.0, flickr

Why do Red-crowned Cranes (Grus japonensis) dance? To attract a mate and reinforce existing relationships! When these bi...
12/28/2020

Why do Red-crowned Cranes (Grus japonensis) dance? To attract a mate and reinforce existing relationships! When these birds mate, they likely pair up for life. Over time, relationships are strengthened through complex, graceful synchronized dances that include head-bobbing, bows, and leaps. Red-crowned cranes are one of the world’s largest birds, with wingspans of about 8 feet (2.4 meters) and a height of around 5 feet (1.5 meters).
Photo: Martha de Jong-Lantink, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0, flickr

Spending your Sunday lounging like a koala (Phascolarctos cinereus)? This Australian species sleeps as much as 18 hours ...
12/27/2020

Spending your Sunday lounging like a koala (Phascolarctos cinereus)? This Australian species sleeps as much as 18 hours per day! Often mistaken for a bear, this critter is actually a marsupial. A newborn spends the first six months of its life in a mother’s pouch before emerging and spending the rest of its first year clinging to mom’s back. Forest and woodlands that are abundant in eucalyptus trees are its preferred habitat—eucalyptus leaves make up the majority of its diet. On top of the threats to this species posed by droughts and loss of habitat from logging and agriculture, koala populations were devastated by 2019-2020 bushfires. An estimated 5,000 koalas were lost, and much of their suitable habitat in New South Wales was burnt.
Photo: Paul Asman and Jill Lenoble, CC BY 2.0, flickr

On this day in 1831, 22-year-old Charles Darwin set sail on the HMS Beagle as the ship's naturalist for a trip around th...
12/27/2020

On this day in 1831, 22-year-old Charles Darwin set sail on the HMS Beagle as the ship's naturalist for a trip around the world. For most of the next five years, the Beagle surveyed the coast of South America, leaving Darwin free to explore the continent and islands, including the Galápagos. He filled dozens of notebooks with careful observations on animals, plants, and geology, and collected thousands of specimens, which he sent home for further study. Darwin later called the Beagle voyage "by far the most important event in my life," saying it "determined my whole career."
Art: Conrad Martens, Public Domain

The scale of Arizona’s Grand Canyon—both in space and time—is almost inconceivably vast. At its deepest, the canyon’s ro...
12/27/2020

The scale of Arizona’s Grand Canyon—both in space and time—is almost inconceivably vast. At its deepest, the canyon’s rock walls plunge more than a mile (1.6 kilometers), carved by the Colorado River and its tributaries. The oldest rock layer formed long before North America took its current shape and before multicellular life emerged. It is one of the best visible records of geological history on Earth. Have you visited this natural marvel?
Photo: eugeny_p, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0, flickr

Feeling like a hornworm (Manduca sexta) this holiday weekend? This bulky critter specializes in eating the tobacco plant...
12/26/2020

Feeling like a hornworm (Manduca sexta) this holiday weekend? This bulky critter specializes in eating the tobacco plant, which is loaded with the natural insecticide known as nicotine. So how does it manage? When it bites into a nicotine-laced leaf, the action triggers an increase in the gut enzymes that break down nicotine—allowing the caterpillar to continue feeding. “Nicotine” may make you think only of tobacco, but lots of plants contain varying amounts of this toxin. For instance, green peppers, green tomatoes, and even green potatoes contain nicotine, though in concentrations too low to have any effect. Nicotine affects the transmission of nerve impulses in both the peripheral and central nervous systems.
Photo: oliver.dodd, CC BY 2.0, flickr

This ecosphere was sealed in 1999 and hasn’t been opened since—it’s a self-sustaining habitat. How does it work? Algae m...
12/26/2020

This ecosphere was sealed in 1999 and hasn’t been opened since—it’s a self-sustaining habitat. How does it work? Algae make food from sunlight. Shrimp take oxygen from the water and exhale carbon dioxide; algae take in the carbon dioxide and give off oxygen! Microbes feed the shrimp—and in turn, the carbon dioxide-rich shrimp poop helps the algae and microbes! See it on display in the Hall of Universe.

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Season's greetings! This Fossil Friday we bring you none other than Stegosaurus. At one time, some scientists thought it...
12/26/2020

Season's greetings! This Fossil Friday we bring you none other than Stegosaurus. At one time, some scientists thought it had a “second brain” because the one in its head seemed too small for an animal its size. The dinosaur did, however, manage with its one small brain—which was the size of a walnut! Another distinctive trait are its plates, which have grooves for blood vessels, indicating that they were covered with skin when the animal was alive. These plates were probably used in display or species recognition, much like the horns of many modern animals, including deer.
Photo: © AMNH

We’ve made it to the twelfth and final day of our 12 Days of Dioramas! Behold, the Polar Bear diorama in the Hall of Oce...
12/25/2020

We’ve made it to the twelfth and final day of our 12 Days of Dioramas! Behold, the Polar Bear diorama in the Hall of Ocean Life! It has received multiple updates since the 1960s, including turning the bear’s head toward the viewer, repainting the background, and putting the seal on a whole new hole in the ice. A close relative of the brown bear, the polar bear has evolved specialized features to thrive in the Arctic. For example, females produce highly-fatty milk that boosts their cubs’ growth, energy, and fat insulation, which helps the baby bears survive Arctic temperatures. Today the species’ biggest threat is climate change, which is reducing the sea ice habitat that they depend on for hunting and survival.
Photo: D. Finnin/© 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

Wednesday 10:00 - 17:30
Thursday 10:00 - 17:30
Friday 10:00 - 17:30
Saturday 10:00 - 17:30
Sunday 10:00 - 17:45

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(212) 769-5100

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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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