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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 an

Operating as usual

Have you ever wondered how ocean chemistry (for example, oxygen and limiting nutrients like iron) will change as the Ear...
06/29/2021

Have you ever wondered how ocean chemistry (for example, oxygen and limiting nutrients like iron) will change as the Earth warms up? Courtney Wagner (soon-to-be Peter Buck Fellow) and Ioan Lascu (Mineral Sciences) teamed up with other scientists to answer this question. Their team uses the magnetic fossil remains of microorganisms that lived 56 million years ago during a global warming event analogous to modern climate change. These magnetic fossils, called magnetofossils, are each less than 1/100 the width of one of your hairs. Magnetofossils might be extraordinarily small, but they can tell a huge story. To find out how these fossil nanomagnets record changes in ocean chemistry over this past global warming event, read their story here: https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1029/2021PA004225.

Have you ever wondered how ocean chemistry (for example, oxygen and limiting nutrients like iron) will change as the Earth warms up? Courtney Wagner (soon-to-be Peter Buck Fellow) and Ioan Lascu (Mineral Sciences) teamed up with other scientists to answer this question. Their team uses the magnetic fossil remains of microorganisms that lived 56 million years ago during a global warming event analogous to modern climate change. These magnetic fossils, called magnetofossils, are each less than 1/100 the width of one of your hairs. Magnetofossils might be extraordinarily small, but they can tell a huge story. To find out how these fossil nanomagnets record changes in ocean chemistry over this past global warming event, read their story here: https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1029/2021PA004225.

This fish, which appears to be a ball with a mouth and fins, is a frogfish.  Frogfish do the world’s best impression of ...
06/28/2021

This fish, which appears to be a ball with a mouth and fins, is a frogfish. Frogfish do the world’s best impression of inert sea sponges, to both hide from predators and lie in wait for unsuspecting prey.

This fish, which appears to be a ball with a mouth and fins, is a frogfish. Frogfish do the world’s best impression of inert sea sponges, to both hide from predators and lie in wait for unsuspecting prey.

Do you need new socks, or perhaps a beach towel...and you 💚 cicadas? Shop the Smithsonian's limited-edition collection o...
06/25/2021
Limited Edition Cicada Brood X Collection

Do you need new socks, or perhaps a beach towel...and you 💚 cicadas?

Shop the Smithsonian's limited-edition collection of #BroodX cicada swag before it's too late! The collection is available online through Wed., June 30.

Cicada Brood X Collection - Get it now or wait another 17 years!

Meet Valerie Paul, head scientist at the Smithsonian Marine Station and Ecosystems Exhibit!
06/25/2021
Meet the Marine Scientist Studying How Algae Communicates

Meet Valerie Paul, head scientist at the Smithsonian Marine Station and Ecosystems Exhibit!

Valerie Paul's work adds to scientists’ knowledge about the ways marine biochemicals can potentially help restore coral reefs and create new biomedicine.

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History has teamed with the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign, a coll...
06/23/2021

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History has teamed with the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign, a collaborative body of more than 170 partners, in making native pollinator garden "recipe" cards. These regionally specific cards were designed with easy-to-follow #DIY guidelines to help you create a pollinator garden that provides a diverse and colorful floral 🌺 display throughout all growing seasons. #PollinatorWeek

https://www.pollinator.org/gardencards

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History has teamed with the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign, a collaborative body of more than 170 partners, in making native pollinator garden "recipe" cards. These regionally specific cards were designed with easy-to-follow #DIY guidelines to help you create a pollinator garden that provides a diverse and colorful floral 🌺 display throughout all growing seasons. #PollinatorWeek

https://www.pollinator.org/gardencards

What comes to mind when you hear the word pollinator?Bees? 🐝  Butterflies? 🦋 What about moths? The hawk moth, a close re...
06/22/2021
Why Hawk Moths are the Underdogs of the Pollinator World

What comes to mind when you hear the word pollinator?

Bees? 🐝 Butterflies? 🦋

What about moths? The hawk moth, a close relative of the butterfly, has a straw-like "tongue" from which they guzzle nectar. When a hawk moth drinks from a flower, its proboscis picks up pollen. It can then spread that pollen to flowers over 18 miles away as it travels along its feeding route! #PollinatorWeek

Hawk moths are the underdog pollinators that sustain countless populations of plants around the world.

June has been a cicada-palooza! #CicadaWatch2021Now that the Brood X's presence has died down (literally) you may come a...
06/21/2021

June has been a cicada-palooza! #CicadaWatch2021

Now that the Brood X's presence has died down (literally) you may come across cicadas that look quite different from the 17-year periodical cicadas that we've become used to.

The fungus that you see here has consumed the inside of the cicada's abdomen. But to keep the cicada alive and moving around (a dead cicada is not a very good vector for fungus spores) the fungus creates a spore plug to fill the hole so the cicada doesn’t bleed out or dry out. At least not for a bit. It also produces psilocybin (like in hallucinogenic mushrooms) and cathinone (an amphetamine) to mellow the cicada out so it doesn’t realize that the rear third of its abdomen is gone and throws it into a mating frenzy so it is flying around and mating like crazy, spreading its spores as it goes. Eventually, it will kill the cicada, but not for a while.

Some people are calling these "zombie cicadas" but this cicada is very much alive…until it isn’t. Once it dies, it does not reanimate.

Credit: Erika Gardner - Botany Department

June has been a cicada-palooza! #CicadaWatch2021

Now that the Brood X's presence has died down (literally) you may come across cicadas that look quite different from the 17-year periodical cicadas that we've become used to.

The fungus that you see here has consumed the inside of the cicada's abdomen. But to keep the cicada alive and moving around (a dead cicada is not a very good vector for fungus spores) the fungus creates a spore plug to fill the hole so the cicada doesn’t bleed out or dry out. At least not for a bit. It also produces psilocybin (like in hallucinogenic mushrooms) and cathinone (an amphetamine) to mellow the cicada out so it doesn’t realize that the rear third of its abdomen is gone and throws it into a mating frenzy so it is flying around and mating like crazy, spreading its spores as it goes. Eventually, it will kill the cicada, but not for a while.

Some people are calling these "zombie cicadas" but this cicada is very much alive…until it isn’t. Once it dies, it does not reanimate.

Credit: Erika Gardner - Botany Department

06/20/2021
Proud Dad: A Seahorse Father Gives Birth (over and over and over)

A #FathersDay shout-out to seahorses. This video shows a male lined seahorse giving birth at the Smithsonian Marine Station and Ecosystems Exhibit. Yes, you read that right – in seahorses, it’s the male who gestates and gives birth to live young!

Lined seahorses can have up to two hundred babies at a time and are ready to receive new eggs from their mate shortly after giving birth. The baby seahorses, known as fry, are miniature versions of the adults. In the wild, less than 0.5% of fry will survive to adulthood. No wonder seahorses have so many babies so often!

The Smithsonian Marine Ecosystems Exhibit specializes in modeling Florida’s local habitats, including those of the #IndianRiverLagoon, one of the most diverse estuaries in North America. The lagoon is home to three species of seahorses, including the lined seahorses.

From the Kitchen of Smithsonian scientist Carla Dove: How to Make a Ci-CAKE-da! 1) Make your basic chocolate cake, in a ...
06/19/2021

From the Kitchen of Smithsonian scientist Carla Dove: How to Make a Ci-CAKE-da!



1) Make your basic chocolate cake, in a round pan

2) Cut like so

3) Frost as you wish, red eyes for the #BroodX look

(And no, this is not scientifically accurate, but it is delicious.) #Cicadas

We were excited to reopen our doors today after more than a year of being closed. Here are a few of our favorite moments...
06/18/2021

We were excited to reopen our doors today after more than a year of being closed. Here are a few of our favorite moments from the day!

Please check out our website to learn how to secure free, timed-entry passes. With our initial reopening capacity limited, they are getting reserved quickly, but new passes are added daily, on a rolling 30-day basis. (Tip: We recommend you go to the reservation site exactly 30 days from when you want to visit, and early in the day, to have the best chance of reserving a pass.)

https://naturalhistory.si.edu/visit

For us, it's truly a happy #FossilFriday. It's felt like eons, but the Natural History family, including Sant Director K...
06/18/2021

For us, it's truly a happy #FossilFriday. It's felt like eons, but the Natural History family, including Sant Director Kirk Johnson, is thrilled to welcome people safely back to the museum. We have missed you so much.

Please visit our website for the latest information on how to reserve free, timed-entry passes. https://naturalhistory.si.edu/visit

For us, it's truly a happy #FossilFriday. It's felt like eons, but the Natural History family, including Sant Director Kirk Johnson, is thrilled to welcome people safely back to the museum. We have missed you so much.

Please visit our website for the latest information on how to reserve free, timed-entry passes. https://naturalhistory.si.edu/visit

"By the end of the summer, 🦇  begin preparing to either hibernate or migrate. The young of the year will start emerging ...
06/18/2021

"By the end of the summer, 🦇 begin preparing to either hibernate or migrate. The young of the year will start emerging from their colonies and hunting on their own. During this time, bats spend most of their time hunting insects to store critical fat reserves. 😋

They’ll need this fat to help them during mating and hibernation or to fuel their long migrations. By winter, the cycle starts all over again! And there you have it, folks. A year in the life of a bat!

Thanks for following my bat posts this week. I hope you enjoyed it!" - Melissa Ingala, Peter Buck / Global Genome Initiative Fellow at Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History #Bats #PostDoctoral #PostDoctoralFellow #PostDoc

📸 Amy Wray

"By the end of the summer, 🦇 begin preparing to either hibernate or migrate. The young of the year will start emerging from their colonies and hunting on their own. During this time, bats spend most of their time hunting insects to store critical fat reserves. 😋

They’ll need this fat to help them during mating and hibernation or to fuel their long migrations. By winter, the cycle starts all over again! And there you have it, folks. A year in the life of a bat!

Thanks for following my bat posts this week. I hope you enjoyed it!" - Melissa Ingala, Peter Buck / Global Genome Initiative Fellow at Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History #Bats #PostDoctoral #PostDoctoralFellow #PostDoc

📸 Amy Wray

We teamed up with our friends Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Renwick Gallery to curate our newest exhibit, Unse...
06/16/2021
The Sad Truths Behind These Unsettling Works of Art

We teamed up with our friends Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Renwick Gallery to curate our newest exhibit, Unsettled Nature: Artists Reflect on the Age of Humans.

“For a science museum to have an art exhibition is a recognition that we need to learn many ways of communicating,” says Scott Wing, a Smithsonian paleobotanist and a co-curator of the exhibition. “Laying out observations and deductions is not necessarily the most effective way for people to confront something that is ultimately emotional.”

A new exhibition reflects on the haunting aesthetics of human impact on the planet

"We still have our minds on winter and bats! Hibernation is an incredible mammalian adaptation, but unfortunately, it is...
06/16/2021

"We still have our minds on winter and bats! Hibernation is an incredible mammalian adaptation, but unfortunately, it is not foolproof. An introduced fungus, Pseudogymnoascus destructans, has caused mass mortality in some hibernating bat species in North America. The cold-loving fungus grows on the wings, muzzle, and face of hibernating bats and causes them to arouse too frequently from hibernation. The bats burn through their fat reserves before spring (and insects) return, causing them to starve to death. Some populations have suffered 90% mortality due to the presence of this fungus." - Melissa Ingala, Peter Buck / Global Genome Initiative Fellow at Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History #Bats #PostDoctoral #PostDoctoralFellow #PostDoc

📸 Lesley Hale

"We still have our minds on winter and bats! Hibernation is an incredible mammalian adaptation, but unfortunately, it is not foolproof. An introduced fungus, Pseudogymnoascus destructans, has caused mass mortality in some hibernating bat species in North America. The cold-loving fungus grows on the wings, muzzle, and face of hibernating bats and causes them to arouse too frequently from hibernation. The bats burn through their fat reserves before spring (and insects) return, causing them to starve to death. Some populations have suffered 90% mortality due to the presence of this fungus." - Melissa Ingala, Peter Buck / Global Genome Initiative Fellow at Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History #Bats #PostDoctoral #PostDoctoralFellow #PostDoc

📸 Lesley Hale

“Temperatures are climbing, but #DYK cave bats hibernate to survive the coldest months of winter when insects 🐜🐞🕷 are no...
06/15/2021

“Temperatures are climbing, but #DYK cave bats hibernate to survive the coldest months of winter when insects 🐜🐞🕷 are not available? They do this by using ‘torpor,’ which is a physiological condition in which their heart ❤️ rates and body temperatures drop to conserve energy. Bats, like this little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus), don’t hibernate the entire length of winter. Instead, they undergo multiple bouts of torpor throughout winter, broken up by periods of arousal. We aren’t positive why bats have to arouse from torpor, but it may be to drink water, urinate, or perform other bodily functions that they can’t do while they are in torpor.” - Melissa Ingala, Peter Buck / Global Genome Initiative Fellow at Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History #Bats #PostDoctoral #PostDoctoralFellow #PostDoc

📸: Brock & Sherri Fenton

“Temperatures are climbing, but #DYK cave bats hibernate to survive the coldest months of winter when insects 🐜🐞🕷 are not available? They do this by using ‘torpor,’ which is a physiological condition in which their heart ❤️ rates and body temperatures drop to conserve energy. Bats, like this little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus), don’t hibernate the entire length of winter. Instead, they undergo multiple bouts of torpor throughout winter, broken up by periods of arousal. We aren’t positive why bats have to arouse from torpor, but it may be to drink water, urinate, or perform other bodily functions that they can’t do while they are in torpor.” - Melissa Ingala, Peter Buck / Global Genome Initiative Fellow at Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History #Bats #PostDoctoral #PostDoctoralFellow #PostDoc

📸: Brock & Sherri Fenton

Meet the newest described member of the mammal family: the Benin tree hyrax, Dendrohyrax interfluvialis. It lives in for...
06/14/2021

Meet the newest described member of the mammal family: the Benin tree hyrax, Dendrohyrax interfluvialis. It lives in forests between the Niger and Volta Rivers in West Africa. While they look superficially like marmots, hyraxes’ closest living relatives include elephants.

The discovery of a new tree hyrax species highlights the need for more study and conservation of the biodiversity in the region, especially since its habitat is pressured by logging and farming, and its animals face intense hunting for their meat.

With @USGeologicalSurvey scientist and Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History research associate Neal Woodman's help, the team compared the new tree hyrax to known species in natural history collections worldwide. A description of the new species is published today in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society.

"When we think of spring and summer in temperate regions, we think of noticeable changes that happen as the warm weather...
06/14/2021

"When we think of spring and summer in temperate regions, we think of noticeable changes that happen as the warm weather returns. Trees begin to flower, migrating birds return to our gardens, and insects 🐞 become active again.

But maybe you’ve never thought about what small creatures like 🦇 are doing during this time. What do bats do during the winter anyway? Bats, like most mammals, have to deal with the harsh conditions of winter when their preferred food (insects, in North America) is not available. They either hibernate through the worst parts of winter or migrate to more favorable climates! We’ll discuss some of these strategies this week and highlight the bat species that use them." - Melissa Ingala, Peter Buck / Global Genome Initiative Fellow at Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History #PostDoctoral #PostDoctoralFellow #PostDoc

📸 : The Southern Yellow bat (Lasiurus ega), (PC: Brock & Sherri Fenton)

"When we think of spring and summer in temperate regions, we think of noticeable changes that happen as the warm weather returns. Trees begin to flower, migrating birds return to our gardens, and insects 🐞 become active again.

But maybe you’ve never thought about what small creatures like 🦇 are doing during this time. What do bats do during the winter anyway? Bats, like most mammals, have to deal with the harsh conditions of winter when their preferred food (insects, in North America) is not available. They either hibernate through the worst parts of winter or migrate to more favorable climates! We’ll discuss some of these strategies this week and highlight the bat species that use them." - Melissa Ingala, Peter Buck / Global Genome Initiative Fellow at Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History #PostDoctoral #PostDoctoralFellow #PostDoc

📸 : The Southern Yellow bat (Lasiurus ega), (PC: Brock & Sherri Fenton)

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