Remembering Albert Kollar, Collection Manger of Invertebrate Paleontology
Carnegie Museum of Natural History Blog
by Erin Southerland
1w ago
Albert D. Kollar, Collection Manager of Invertebrate Paleontology Last year, when Albert Kollar, Collection Manager of Invertebrate Paleontology at Carnegie Museum of Natural History, was planning for, and later recovering from, knee surgeries, it was common to hear people wish him well by saying, “You’ll be back on the outcrop soon.” In the wake of his untimely death last week, those wishes are worth examining for all they capture of Albert’s generous and long-standing sharing of geologic knowledge. Outcrop, as anyone who participated in one of his geology-focused hikes already knows, refers ..read more
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Snags, Logs, and the Importance of a Fallen Tree
Carnegie Museum of Natural History Blog
by Erin Southerland
2w ago
by Jessica Romano As the seasons change from winter to spring here in western Pennsylvania, a common sight on a recent walk included fallen and decomposing trees. Interesting to look at and begging to be photographed, these fallen trees also hold a very important role in the ecosystem.  This uprooted tree shows the roots still attached, along a hiking trail in Hartwood Acres Park. Dead and fallen trees are host to many forms of wildlife, some of which are easy to spot, like squirrels, woodpeckers, and snakes, while others may require a closer look to identify, including fungi, insects, an ..read more
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Celebrating Women in the Natural History Art Collection
Carnegie Museum of Natural History Blog
by Erin Southerland
1M ago
by Olivia Buehler Within the collections of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, one may be surprised to find more than the biological specimens, fossils, and extensive anthropological and archaeological materials that the museum is best known for. As a major scientific institution that collects and conducts research, the Carnegie Museum of Natural History also has its own “Natural History Art” Collection, formerly known as the M. Graham Netting Animal Portraiture Collection, named after the herpetologist, former CMNH director, and founder of the collection. Consisting mostly of mid-twentie ..read more
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When Nature Meets Art: Crinoid Fossils as Cultural Beads
Carnegie Museum of Natural History Blog
by Erin Southerland
1M ago
by Elizabeth A. Begley and Albert D. Kollar Did you know that invertebrate fossils make up more than 50% of the specimens on exhibit in Dinosaurs in Their Time (DITT)? It’s true! But these fossils can be easy to miss among the giant dinosaurs and vertebrate reptiles. Luckily, ongoing research on the biodiversity within our gallery spaces, from locations including England, Germany, and the United States, will help visitors better understand the importance of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s Invertebrate Paleontology collection research, exhibition, and education initiatives1 ..read more
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Scientific Names Matter in March Mammal Madness 
Carnegie Museum of Natural History Blog
by Erin Southerland
1M ago
by Erin Southerland March Mammal Madness (MMM) bracket advice: look up the scientific names of species on the MMM website before you make your predictions. While MMM can be silly and ridiculous, it is an educational tool and the details matter. Let’s explore why by looking at the Pitcher Plant (7) vs. Northern Short-tailed Shrew (10) match.   Pitcher plant isn’t a specific species of plant, rather it describes plants with a modified leaf that resembles and acts like a pitfall trap.  Nepenthes rajah, a species of pitcher plant. © Thibaud Aronson, (CC BY-SA) Bonnie Isaac, Collecti ..read more
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World Pangolin Day 2024 – The Mysterious Mammalian “Wishbone”
Carnegie Museum of Natural History Blog
by Erin Southerland
2M ago
by John Wible World Pangolin Day 2024 is on February 17, a day to raise awareness of pangolins or scaly anteaters, one of the most unique and endangered mammals on Earth. Their scales are harvested for traditional medicines that see them as cure-alls, but their scales are made of keratin like your fingernails and hair. Their scales are as medicinally effective as biting your nails. Although I will get to pangolins, I am starting with our feathered avian friends. Birds have a Y-shaped bone in their chest called a furcula (Latin for little fork). It is part of the flight apparatus and is thought ..read more
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A Year in Review: Bird Banding 2023
Carnegie Museum of Natural History Blog
by Erin Southerland
2M ago
by Annie Lindsay Nestled between the Chestnut and Laurel Ridges near the town of Rector, Pennsylvania lies Powdermill Nature Reserve, Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s environmental field research station, where ornithologists have been operating a long-term bird banding station since June 1961. In 62 years of banding birds year-round, we’ve gathered more than 830,000 banding records of nearly 200 species. Some, like the Cedar Waxwing, have tens of thousands of records in our dataset, whereas single individuals are the only representatives of other species, like Kirtland’s Warbler. Banding ..read more
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The Hermit Crab and the Moon Snail
Carnegie Museum of Natural History Blog
by Erin Southerland
2M ago
by Timothy A. Pearce and Mandi Lyon When a snail needs a larger shell, it simply grows its shell larger, continuing the spiral. However, when a hermit crab needs a larger shell, it must find a larger shell to move into. Consequently, hermit crabs depend on snails to provide housing. Hermit crabs have soft abdomens, which are vulnerable to predators, so they keep their abdomens protected inside of snail shells. There are amusing stories of several hermit crabs lining up in order of shell size, in a type of pecking order. When a new shell becomes available, the hermit crab hi ..read more
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2023 Rector Christmas Bird Count Results
Carnegie Museum of Natural History Blog
by Erin Southerland
3M ago
by Annie Lindsay American Woodcock. Photo by Powdermill Avian Research Center. For a few hours before dawn on the chilly morning of December 16, several intrepid birders scoured the Rector Christmas Bird Count circle for owls, and with a bit of luck, counted four species. Eastern Screech-Owl is a common, year-round resident and a respectable 14 individuals were heard calling that morning, in addition to one encounter each of Great Horned Owl, Barred Owl, and Northern Saw-whet Owl. Once the sun rose that morning, the owlers were joined by many other birders to spend the day systematically searc ..read more
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Collected On This Day: Witch Hazel, January 1923
Carnegie Museum of Natural History Blog
by Erin Southerland
3M ago
by Mason Heberling This specimen of common witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) was collected in January 1923 in Beaver County, Pennsylvania “East of Ambridge” by H.W. Graham.  Herbert W. Graham (1905-2009) was an “Assistant” in Botany at the Carnegie Museum from 1925-1929 while he was a student at the University of Pittsburgh who later became an oceanographer at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. During his time at the museum, he collected many specimens, often with his brother, Edward H. Graham, who was also an Assistant in Botany, later curator (1931-1937) and later, a well-known ..read more
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