Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History

Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History Join us as we explore the natural world and our place in it. Privacy Policy: http://www.si.edu/privacy/ Terms of Use: http://si.edu/Termsofuse

Welcome to our page! Please feel free to share thoughts about our posts, ask us questions, or tell us about your visit. We hope you’ll contribute to this interactive forum and to our ongoing conversation about the work we do to further the Smithsonian's mission to increase and diffuse knowledge. While on-topic discussion is encouraged, we ask that you express yourself in a civil manner and treat other users with respect. The Smithsonian also monitors and may remove posts consistent with its terms of use, as described at http://si.edu/Termsofuse#user-gen. For our Privacy Policy: http://www.si.edu/Privacy

Operating as usual

We love that Wonder Woman and the Cheetah both have day jobs as natural history scientists. So we can’t end the day with...
12/22/2020

We love that Wonder Woman and the Cheetah both have day jobs as natural history scientists. So we can’t end the day without giving a shoutout to our very own #WonderWomenOfSTEM 🦸🏻‍♀️🦸🏼‍♀️🦸🏽‍♀️🦸🏾‍♀️

This photo was taken on International Women's Day 2019 and we miss taking group photos like this! Looking forward to the day that we're all together again. #WonderWoman1984

Gemologist Barbara Ann Minerva (Kristen Wiig) appears to be mesmerized by what she sees in our Mammal Hall. Explore our ...
12/22/2020

Gemologist Barbara Ann Minerva (Kristen Wiig) appears to be mesmerized by what she sees in our Mammal Hall. Explore our halls from the comfort of your home with a virtual tour and experience wonder. #WonderWoman1984

http://s.si.edu/experiencewonder

Photo by Clay Enos, courtesy of Warner Brothers

#DidYouKnow that a portion of Wonder Woman 1984 was filmed at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History? Chec...
12/22/2020

#DidYouKnow that a portion of Wonder Woman 1984 was filmed at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History? Check out Henry—our beloved elephant—getting ready for his closeup. Doesn’t he look fantastic!? #WonderWoman1984


Photo by Clay Enos, courtesy of Warner Brothers

Winter officially begins today, and cold-weather fanatics are hoping for ❄️ snow. But snowfall brings more than wintry f...
12/21/2020
Why Scientists Find Snowflakes Cool

Winter officially begins today, and cold-weather fanatics are hoping for ❄️ snow. But snowfall brings more than wintry fun. This beautiful weather event gives scientists the chance to examine a fascinating substance with unique properties.❄️ #WinterSolstice #FirstDayOfWinter Smithsonian Institution Archives

Mineralogists study snowflakes to learn more about how water in its solid phase behaves.

If you aren't a fan of the winter months you probably wouldn't be comfortable on Mars, where the average temperature is ...
12/21/2020

If you aren't a fan of the winter months you probably wouldn't be comfortable on Mars, where the average temperature is -80 F! 🥶

Like many cold-weather locations on Earth, Mars contains glaciers that formed by snow piling up over time to form ice. The crater in the image above contains an ancient glacier that is now inactive and has become covered in rocky debris. But hundreds of millions of years ago when the glacier formed, ice accumulated on the crater rim and flowed downslope, partly filling the crater.

If you look closely, you can still see the ridges and grooves that formed from flowing ice.

Planetary Scientist Dr. Erica Jawin studied this crater, along with hundreds of other glaciated martian craters, to understand how ancient glaciers responded to a changing martian climate.

Image: NASA/JPL/UArizona

The Jurassic seas provided plenty of food for marine reptiles like Rhomaleosaurus, but also posed challenges. Animals th...
12/18/2020

The Jurassic seas provided plenty of food for marine reptiles like Rhomaleosaurus, but also posed challenges. Animals that had evolved for life on land now had to move in water and get to the surface to breathe. #DeepTime #FossilFriday

On this day in 1903, the Wright brothers achieved the unthinkable -- FLIGHT! ✈️ Check out this Smithsonian Magazine arti...
12/17/2020
How We Lifted Flight from Bird Evolution

On this day in 1903, the Wright brothers achieved the unthinkable -- FLIGHT! ✈️ Check out this Smithsonian Magazine article to learn how ten million years of bird evolution and thousands of years of bird observations 🔍 are to thank for human-powered flight.

The path to flight in modern birds was full of forks, twists and dead ends.

12/17/2020
Peri Bolton Bird Calls

These three bird calls by Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History researcher Peri Bolton helped inspire a collaboration with Smithsonian ornithologists, Kronos Quartet , and San Francisco Girls Chorus. On Sunday, Dec 20 at 3pm PST watch the world premiere of Music of the Birds, by composer Sahba Aminikia.

Register for the free performance here: https://www.sfgirlschorus.org/performances/island-holiday

A thick layer of blubber keeps walruses warm in the Arctic. Both male and female walruses have strong long tusks that th...
12/16/2020

A thick layer of blubber keeps walruses warm in the Arctic. Both male and female walruses have strong long tusks that they use to help pull themselves out of the water. They can also use their tusks to break through ice to create breathing holes.

Walruses forage on the seafloor, diving to depths up to 180 meters (590 feet) for clams, cockles, and mussels. They use highly sensitive whiskers on their snouts to locate food. Then they dig out their prey using the tough edges of their noses, similar to how pigs root around in dirt and grass.

The Inupiaq people of Alaska have more than 100 words for different kinds of sea ice, some illustrated here. A female wa...
12/15/2020

The Inupiaq people of Alaska have more than 100 words for different kinds of sea ice, some illustrated here. A female walrus and her calf (isavgalik) rest on ice (nunavait) in the midst of scattered pack ice (tamalaaniqtuaq), interspersed with patches of calm flat water (quuniq). The mass of floating pack ice (sigu) consists of various types of ice, such as large floes (puktaaq), vertical blocks of ice (puikaaniq), ice floes with overhanging shelves (quaŋiłlaq), large pieces of darker ice (taagluk), and small floating pieces of dirt ice (saŋałait).

(From: “Kinikmi Sigum Qanuq Ilitaavut” or “Wales Inupiaq Sea Ice Dictionary” by Winton Weypuk and Igor Krupnik.)

What makes sea angels a snail worthy of distinction? Our friends The Ocean Portal have the answer!
12/15/2020
Angels of the Sea

What makes sea angels a snail worthy of distinction? Our friends The Ocean Portal have the answer!

Article Angels of the Sea This is a tree topper unlike any other! Reminiscent of a freshly made snow angel, these pteropods are actually shell-less sea snails (Clione limacina). Unlike the typical snail, they flap their adapted foot ‘wings’ to get around in the water column. They are extremely s...

The ability to work with ancient DNA breathes new life into old samples, whether from field sites or museum collections....
12/14/2020
How Ancient DNA Unearths Corn’s A-maize-ing History

The ability to work with ancient DNA breathes new life into old samples, whether from field sites or museum collections. Scientists recently sequenced the genomes of 2,000-year-old corn to learn about the history of this staple crop and the communities that relied on it. The research team—co-led by Smithsonian curator of archaeogenomics and archaeobotany Logan Kistler—published its findings today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

New study shows how extracting whole genomes from ancient material opens the door for new research questions and breathes new life into old samples.

From tiny talapoins to big baboons, the shape of monkey skulls is related to body size, diet, and behavior. 3D scans are...
12/14/2020

From tiny talapoins to big baboons, the shape of monkey skulls is related to body size, diet, and behavior. 3D scans are an essential (and awesome!) tool that scientists use to quantify differences in skull shape - you can view and download them too at 3d.si.edu! #MonkeyDay

Colorful and elaborate facial fur helps New World monkeys recognize members of their own species. We think it also makes...
12/14/2020

Colorful and elaborate facial fur helps New World monkeys recognize members of their own species. We think it also makes them look pretty stylish. You can find these and other great monkey "hairdos" in the @BioDivLibrary collections: https://s.si.edu/monkeyday

Male Mandrills are the largest and most strikingly colored monkeys in the world. These forest-dwelling monkeys travel in...
12/14/2020
Skin & Bones - Animal Life: Mandrill

Male Mandrills are the largest and most strikingly colored monkeys in the world. These forest-dwelling monkeys travel in large troops that can top 800 individuals. #MonkeyDay

Learn more about these monkeys in this video from our Skin & Bones App: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZEcCy_NtaJg&feature=emb_logo

Male Mandrills are the largest and most strikingly colored monkeys in the world. These forest dwelling monkeys travel in large troops that can top 800 indivi...

My, what big teeth you have! In the complex societies of baboons, the length of a male’s sharp canine teeth helps determ...
12/14/2020

My, what big teeth you have! In the complex societies of baboons, the length of a male’s sharp canine teeth helps determine his dominance rank when he’s near the top of the troop. Fighting among males can be fierce enough to blunt or break these teeth. #MonkeyDay

**THIS PROGRAM WILL BE PRESENTED ENTIRELY IN SPANISH**¡Acompáñanos al programa familiar en español: "Los cangrejos violi...
12/13/2020
Historia Natural en Casa: Los cangrejos violinistas de Panamá

**THIS PROGRAM WILL BE PRESENTED ENTIRELY IN SPANISH**

¡Acompáñanos al programa familiar en español: "Los cangrejos violinistas de Panamá" hoy, a las 2:00pm ET y explora las adaptaciones de estos animales mientras también creamos una pinza gigante para comunicarnos como ellos! https://naturalhistory.si.edu/events/historia-natural-en-casa-los-cangrejos-violinistas-de-panama

La exploración de la historia natural no solo tiene que suceder en el museo, ¡también puede ocurrir en tu hogar! Acompaña a los educadores del museo mientras guían a tu familia a través de actividades de desarrollo de habilidades científicas, leen libros de ciencia y naturaleza e introducen f...

Today marks the seventh anniversary of Q?rius, The Coralyn W. Whitney Science Education Center. Q?rius (pronounced "curi...
12/12/2020

Today marks the seventh anniversary of Q?rius, The Coralyn W. Whitney Science Education Center.

Q?rius (pronounced "curious") is an interactive and experimental learning space that brings the unique assets of the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History — the science, researchers, and collections — out from behind the scenes. Visitors can use microscopes, handle some of the 6,000 collection objects, solve science puzzles, do touchscreen activities, and even meet a scientist. In Q?rius and the Q?rius jr. area, visitors can unleash their curiosity with surprising results.

Although its physical location is currently closed due to COVID-19, you can watch 50 episodes of "Smithsonian Science How," which were filmed in Q?rius, here: https://s.si.edu/sevenyears

You’re not seeing double—Stockoceros really does have two double horns. It was related to pronghorns, which are the only...
12/11/2020

You’re not seeing double—Stockoceros really does have two double horns. It was related to pronghorns, which are the only living members of the once-diverse antilocaprid family. More closely related to giraffes than to antelopes, antilocaprids have permanent horns but shed the horny covering each year. Many species roamed throughout western North America from the Miocene through the Quaternary ice ages. #DeepTime #FossilFriday

A storm brings a close to archaeological fieldwork at Mistinibi on the border between Quebec and northern Labrador. Life...
12/10/2020

A storm brings a close to archaeological fieldwork at Mistinibi on the border between Quebec and northern Labrador. Life goes on inside an Innu tent as story-telling, dreams, and memories replace –and supplement—archaeological fieldwork.

Mistinibi, northern Quebec, 2014. An Arctic Studies Center snapshot, shared by archaeologist Stephen Loring.

Fossil lovers rejoice! Today we're sharing the addition of two fossil AR filters that you can share via #Instagram. Take...
12/09/2020

Fossil lovers rejoice! Today we're sharing the addition of two fossil AR filters that you can share via #Instagram. Take the life-size woolly mammoth to the park, the classroom, or perhaps shrink it down to fit in the palm of your hand. For our dino lovers, you can choose the Triceratops. The skeleton is posed lying dead on its side, as it might appear to a passing scavenger in search of a meal.

To access these effects on your mobile device, visit our profile on Instagram and tap on the Effect tab. Then select the effect you want to try. Want more? These fossil filters are part of a larger set of 10 Smithsonian artifacts unveiled today. Check out @Smithsonian to explore all 10. #ARtifactsAnywhere

Although this photo was taken pre-COVID-19 many of us can relate to this lone bull caribou as fall becomes winter. Hang ...
12/09/2020

Although this photo was taken pre-COVID-19 many of us can relate to this lone bull caribou as fall becomes winter. Hang in there everyone!

Border Beacon, near Kamestastin, northern Labrador.

An Arctic Studies Center snapshot, shared by archaeologist Stephen Loring.

You might title this photo, "Waiting for the caribou." Snow can come early in northern Labrador. While researching ances...
12/08/2020

You might title this photo, "Waiting for the caribou." Snow can come early in northern Labrador. While researching ancestral Innu land-tenure, a joint Smithsonian-Tshikapisk Foundation cultural heritage project is stymied by the fall of snow that covers most traces of previous occupations.

Caribou crossing place on the Kamestastin River, northern Labrador, October 2006.

An Arctic Studies Center snapshot, shared by archaeologist Stephen Loring.

An international team of scientists discovered a new type of snake in northern Vietnam. The species belongs to a rare gr...
12/07/2020

An international team of scientists discovered a new type of snake in northern Vietnam. The species belongs to a rare group of burrowing #snakes that could help scientists piece together new information about evolution.

“When you see these species descriptions come out, they seem like a very small piece of the puzzle. But when everyone’s working on these smaller projects, it facilitates big, macro-evolutionary studies about the evolution of life,” says lead author Aryeh Miller, a research fellow at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History and a graduate student at Washington University in St Louis.

Read more at https://s.si.edu/nmnhsnake

Photo credit American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists (ASIH)

The barrengrounds of northern Labrador (Nitassinan) is the ancestral homeland of the George River caribou herd and the I...
12/07/2020

The barrengrounds of northern Labrador (Nitassinan) is the ancestral homeland of the George River caribou herd and the Innu whose lives are inextricably linked. As the day’s shorten and the first snows appear the caribou congregate and begin to move to their wintering grounds. Formerly Innu families would gather at river crossings and lake narrows to intercept the migration and secure the necessities (skins for shelter and clothing, meat and fat for sustenance) for surviving the approaching winter weather.

Kamestastin, northern Labrador, 2006.

📸: Stephen Loring, Archaeologist (Arctic Studies Center)

Soils are crucial to our everyday lives, storing carbon, filtering water, growing plants, and so much more. Discover a w...
12/05/2020

Soils are crucial to our everyday lives, storing carbon, filtering water, growing plants, and so much more. Discover a whole new world beneath your feet with this free, print-on-demand DIY exhibit: Dig It! The Secrets of Soil.

Visit our website to find out how you can adapt the show to fit your school, community center, library, coffee shop or other venue and help your audience:

• Decipher a soil’s layers to learn what it’s made of and how it formed.
• Meet the many kinds of microbes that live in soil, and discover their hidden talents.
• Get Soil Savvy and learn what people are doing in farms and cities to improve the soils we rely on for food, fun, and human health.

The exhibit is made with support from the Soil Science Society of America.
#TheMoreYouKnow #WorldSoilDay #DidYouKnow

https://s.si.edu/worldsoilday

Over most of Earth’s 🌎 land lies a thin layer of soil—a complex and variable mixture of minerals, air, water, decaying r...
12/05/2020

Over most of Earth’s 🌎 land lies a thin layer of soil—a complex and variable mixture of minerals, air, water, decaying remains of life, and countless living organisms.

Earth’s “skin” is not one soil, but many soils—each with its own story. Tens of thousands of different soils cover the continents.

Without soils, life would not exist as we know it.

Soils are alive: they are born, they age, they breathe, and are constantly created and lost. Soils sustain life on Earth and are crucial to our everyday lives, storing carbon, filtering water, growing plants, and so much more. #WorldSoilDay

https://s.si.edu/worldsoilday

Years ago fur traders nearly hunted otters into extinction. Now, archeologists are filling in their historical record wi...
12/04/2020
Archaeologists Could Help Bring Otters Back From the Dead

Years ago fur traders nearly hunted otters into extinction. Now, archeologists are filling in their historical record with an eye towards reintroducing the kelp-forest-dweller to Oregon's coast. #WildlifeConservationDay

The sea mammals vanished from Oregon’s coast long ago, but a technique from human archaeology offers a clue to restoring them.

When Smithsonian zoologist Mike Braun helped discover a previously unknown pocket of Red Siskin birds (Spinus cucullatus...
12/04/2020

When Smithsonian zoologist Mike Braun helped discover a previously unknown pocket of Red Siskin birds (Spinus cucullatus) in Guyana, it kicked off an effort to save the entire species. Celebrate #WildlifeConservationDay, by exploring the Red Siskin Initiative, a collaboration between Smithsonian scientists, and international and local partners.

https://s.si.edu/redsiskin

Photo: South Rupununi Conservation Society

Martha the Passenger Pigeon is one of the Smithsonian’s greatest treasures. In life, Martha lived at the Cincinnati Zoo ...
12/04/2020

Martha the Passenger Pigeon is one of the Smithsonian’s greatest treasures. In life, Martha lived at the Cincinnati Zoo where she was visited by long lines of people eager to get a glimpse of the last living individual of her species. Martha died in 1914 and the Passenger Pigeon became extinct.

Only decades earlier, her species had been widespread and abundant in North America but was heavily hunted for food. The Smithsonian’s taxidermy mount made from Martha’s remains illustrates how important conservation is and reminds us that even widespread and abundant North American species can become extinct. #WildlifeConservationDay #ObjectsOfWonder

📸 Smithsonian Institution Archives

It's time for another edition of "Meet a SI-entist" and today we're introducing you to smithsoniannmnh's newest paleobio...
12/03/2020
Say Hello to the Smithsonian’s Newest Mollusk Expert

It's time for another edition of "Meet a SI-entist" and today we're introducing you to smithsoniannmnh's newest paleobiology curator, Dr. Stewart Edie.
#MeetaSIentist #Science #Paleobiology #Paleontology

Learn what the ancient history of these sea creatures could tell us about biodiversity on ancient and modern Earth.

The symbol of the Arctic is often the polar bear (Ursus maritimus), the pole's cute yet fearsome top predator. These lar...
12/03/2020

The symbol of the Arctic is often the polar bear (Ursus maritimus), the pole's cute yet fearsome top predator. These large marine mammals, who move easily between ice, water and land, are part of the diverse fauna of the Arctic Ocean.

Check out how this polar bear was displayed in the 1880's at the Mammals exhibit in the United States National Museum, now known as the Arts and Industries Building.

Today, the polar bear is classified by the IUCN Red List as vulnerable, with the "loss of Arctic sea ice due to climate change" as "the most serious threat to polar bears throughout their circumpolar range." #tbt

Smithsonian Institution Archives, Acc. 11-007, Box 026, Image No. MNH-5119

Snowflake or diatom? You decide. ❄️(But really it is a diatom called Aulacodiscus gracilis. If you presently see these f...
12/02/2020

Snowflake or diatom? You decide. ❄️

(But really it is a diatom called Aulacodiscus gracilis. If you presently see these floating around you, we hope you're wearing a wetsuit.)

Address

10th St. & Constitution Ave. NW
Washington D.C., DC
20560

The National Museum of Natural History is right off of the blue and orange lines of the metro. The Smithsonian station is located at 1200 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20004. For more information see the Washington Area Metro site at http://www.wmata.com/

Alerts

Be the first to know and let us send you an email when Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History posts news and promotions. Your email address will not be used for any other purpose, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Contact The Museum

Send a message to Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History:

Videos

Category

Explore Your Natural History

Our doors are open 364 days a year! Become part of our community.


  • Experience our ever-changing exhibitions

  • Visit the Butterfly Pavilion

  • Attend a film, book talk, or an evening discussion
  • Nearby museums