Denver Museum of Nature and Science

Colorado City, CO, United States

Denver Museum of Nature and Science

Colorado City, CO, United States
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News Article | April 27, 2017

Fossilised Mastodon bones could rewrite story of how humans colonised the world The discovery of the fossilised remains of an elephant-like animal on a construction site in San Diego appears to have entirely rewritten the story of humans’ colonisation of the world. For the 130,000-year-old mastodon bones had been smashed in a way that suggests people had used stones to break into the nutritious marrow inside – even though humans were not supposed to have arrived on the continent for another 115,000 years. Homo sapiens are thought to have still been in Africa at this time and the researchers said the type of human involved was “unidentified”. One expert suggested they could be Homo erectus, Neanderthals or Denisovans, but the newly discovered ‘hobbits’, Homo floresiensis, are not thought to be likely candidates. How they got there is another burning question. They might have crossed the land bridge that once linked east-Asia and Alaska, but it is also possible they sailed across an 80km stretch of ocean. The remains were found in 1992, but they could not be accurately dated until technological advances allowed this to happen in 2011. Now the researchers have published a paper about their work in the journal Nature as an exhibition about the findings opened at the San Diego Natural History Museum. In a video about the discovery, the museum said: “It took 22 years to piece the story of these fossils together. And the picture it reveals just might change everything.” When the remains were first found, experts from the museum thought they had simply discovered the remains of a dead mastodon. “But something was puzzling. Many of the bones were strangely fractures or missing entirely,” the museum said. “And there were several large stones that seemed out of place in the surrounding fine-grained sediments.” Ancestors of 'hobbits' may have been first humans to leave Africa Dr Steve Holen, of Denver Museum of Nature and Science, was brought in to examine the fractured fossils. “Using femur bones of recently deceased elephants, Holen had conducted two separate experiments in which he demonstrated that a stone used as a hammer causes fresh limb bones to fracture in a distinctive way,” the museum said. “No known geological process or animal scavenging produces the same fractures in bones.” Another expert was then asked to examine the stones found near the fossils. “The large stones showed the same abrasions, fractures and scars that only occur in stones used as hammer stones and anvils,” the museum added. It said the research raised fundamental questions about the human story. “Who were the humans at work at this site and how did they reach North America? Were they an early failed attempt to colonise a new part of the world?” the museum pondered in the video. In the Nature paper, the researchers said the dating technique suggested the remains were 130,000 years old, plus or minus about 9,400 years. “These findings confirm the presence of an unidentified species of Homo at the site during the last interglacial period, indicating that humans with manual dexterity and the experiential knowledge to use hammerstones and anvils processed mastodon limb bones for marrow extraction and/or raw material for tool production,” the paper said. “The site is, to our knowledge, the oldest in situ, well-documented archaeological site in North America and, as such, substantially revises the timing of arrival of Homo into the Americas.” An accompanying article by Professor Erella Hovers, an archaeologist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, said the “big surprise” was the site's age. “The finds … could place hominins in the New World more than 100,000 years earlier than previously thought,” she said. “The authors propose coastal entry, given claims that hominins reached Asian and Mediterranean islands more than 100,000 years ago. “They argue that, despite sea-level rise during the last interglacial, the distances to the Americas by water were within the capabilities of human populations at that time; the warm interglacial conditions would have facilitated adaptation to the newly discovered environment on land.” She suggested “late populations of Homo erectus”, Neanderthals or the “elusive” Denisovans may have butchered the mastodon. She noted that Dr Holen and colleagues “do not consider the insular Homo floresiensis as a probable early coloniser of America”. “What happened after these hominins reached the Americas? The archaeological record is silent until much more recent times,” Dr Hovers said. There have been other suggestions that humans were present in the Americas before 15,000 years ago, but the evidence has been inconclusive. But Dr Hovers said: “The evidence from the Cerutti Mastodon site has been rigorously researched and presented, and might be more difficult to refute, even though the proposed hominin narrative derived from these data has some gaping holes that need filling. “Time will tell whether this evidence will bring a paradigm change in our understanding of processes of hominin dispersal and colonisation throughout the world, including in what now seems to be a not-so-new New World.”

News Article | May 16, 2017

FORT WORTH, Texas--(BUSINESS WIRE)--First Command Financial Services, Inc. is proud to serve as a presenting sponsor for the second annual Operation Project Sanctuary Gala at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. The Gala, which is scheduled for Armed Forces Day on May 20, will feature silent and live auctions, a banquet-style dinner, networking with military supporters from across the country and the latest news on Project Sanctuary’s work on behalf of military families. “First Command is honored again this year to support the Operation Project Sanctuary Gala,” said Scott Spiker, chairman/CEO of First Command. “As a presenting sponsor, we add our gifts and our voice to Project Sanctuary’s important work in support of America’s career military families as they deal with the physical, emotional and financial struggles and challenges they face as a direct result of their service to our country. By supporting military members, veterans and their spouses with critical programs and resources, we hope to give them the peace of mind they’ve earned and the feelings of security they deserve.” First Command is a long-term partner of Project Sanctuary, serving as the organization’s exclusive financial planning partner. The company’s support has included granting program funding, providing facilitators and materials for Project Sanctuary’s financial education workshops and offering complimentary financial advising services to Project Sanctuary program participants for two years post retreat. “First Command’s commitment to families and partners is evidenced by our long-standing relationship,” said Heather Ehle, Project Sanctuary founder and CEO. “We are thrilled to have them return as a presenting sponsor, further illustrating their commitment to working with organizations dedicated to addressing the unique and varied challenges that confront America’s military family. Because of First Command’s tremendous support of the gala and of our program in general, we are able to serve hundreds more families.” Founded in 2007, Project Sanctuary takes our military families from battle-ready to family-ready by providing six-day, outdoor, therapeutic retreats in a healing environment and ongoing family support services for two years following each retreat. Project Sanctuary holds a 4-star rating on Charity Navigator, the GuideStar Gold Participant badge, and Better Business Bureau Charity Accreditation. More information is available online at First Command Financial Services and its subsidiaries, including First Command Financial Planning and First Command Bank, coach our Nation’s military families in their pursuit of financial security. Since 1958, First Command Financial Advisors have been shaping positive financial behaviors through face-to-face coaching with hundreds of thousands of client families. First Command Financial Services, Inc., is the parent of First Command Financial Planning, Inc. (Member SIPC, FINRA), First Command Advisory Services, Inc., First Command Insurance Services, Inc. and First Command Bank. Financial planning services and investment products, including securities, are offered by First Command Financial Planning, Inc., a broker-dealer. Financial planning and investment advisory services are offered by First Command Advisory Services, Inc., an investment adviser. Insurance products and services are offered by First Command Insurance Services, Inc., in all states except Montana, where as required by law, insurance products and services are offered by First Command Financial Services, Inc. (a separate Montana domestic corporation). Banking products and services are offered by First Command Bank. In certain states, as required by law, First Command Insurance Services, Inc. does business as a separate domestic corporation. Securities products are not FDIC insured, have no bank guarantee and may lose value. A financial plan, by itself, cannot assure that retirement or other financial goals will be met. First Command Financial Services, Inc. and its related entities are not affiliated with, authorized to sell or represent on behalf of or otherwise endorsed by any federal employee benefits programs referenced, by the U.S. government, or the U.S. armed forces.

News Article | July 18, 2017

"Bill's innovation and commitment to bettering the lives of people around him have earned him the respect and admiration from professionals across the beer industry," said Jim McGreevy, president and CEO of the Beer Institute. "From his work designing the modern recyclable two-piece aluminum can to his long serving commitment to the company founded by his grandfather, Bill has changed the way that we enjoy beer, and today continues to contribute to MillerCoors through his technical expertise." "Jeff Becker was a personal friend of mine, and I want to thank the Beer Institute for honoring me with this award in the name of a good man," said Bill Coors. "Having spent seven-plus decades in the industry has given me intimate knowledge of the hard work that goes into making beer, and it's easy to understand why it's the most popular alcohol beverage in the country.  From the workers on the brewery floors to the delivery truck drivers, I am proud to have spent my entire professional career part of a field responsible for employing tens of thousands of Americans." Bill Coors is the senior employee at Coors with 76 years of service where he shaped how the world drinks beer and other beverages. In the 1950s, he played a major role in the development of the aluminum can, which today is the standard in the beverage industry. He also is credited with the introduction of light, pilsner beers and the development of a proprietary, sterile-fill packaging technology that enables MillerCoors to provide consumers with brewery-fresh, packaged draft beers. Born August 11, 1916, the grandson of Adolph Coors, Bill spent four years at Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, New Hampshire, before entering Princeton University where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering in 1938 and a graduate degree in 1939. Bill Coors has been involved with numerous civic, educational and business organizations throughout his career. Some of his more recent associations include president of Adolph Coors Foundation; past chairman of Colorado Outward Bound School; and a member of the boards of trustees of Denver University, Colorado Symphony Orchestra, Denver Museum of Nature and Science, Denver Art Museum Foundation and Boy's and Girl's Club of Denver Foundation.  In addition, he is founding/lifetime trustee of Colorado University President's Leadership Class and trustee emeritus of Colorado School of Mines. The Beer Institute is a national trade association for the American brewing industry, representing brewers of all sizes, as well as beer importers and industry suppliers. First founded in 1862 as the U.S. Brewers Association, the Beer Institute is committed today to the development of sound public policy and to the values of civic duty and personal responsibility. For additional updates from the Beer Institute, visit our website, follow @BeerInstitute on Twitter, like the Beer Institute on Facebook, and follow the Beer Institute on Instagram.

Sampson S.D.,Denver Museum of Nature and Science
Proceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society | Year: 2013

The fossil record of centrosaurine ceratopsids is largely restricted to the northern region of western North America (Alberta, Montana and Alaska). Exceptions consist of single taxa from Utah (Diabloceratops) and China (Sinoceratops), plus otherwise fragmentary remains from the southern Western Interior of North America. Here, we describe a remarkable new taxon, Nasutoceratops titusi n. gen. et sp., from the late Campanian Kaiparowits Formation of Utah, represented by multiple specimens, including a nearly complete skull and partial postcranial skeleton. Autapomorphies include an enlarged narial region, pneumatic nasal ornamentation, abbreviated snout and elongate, rostrolaterally directed supraorbital horncores. The subrectangular parietosquamosal frill is relatively unadorned and broadest in the mid-region. A phylogenetic analysis indicates that Nasutoceratops is the sister taxon to Avaceratops, and that a previously unknown subclade of centrosaurines branched off early in the group's history and persisted for several million years during the late Campanian. As the first well-represented southern centrosaurine comparable in age to the bulk of northern forms, Nasutoceratops provides strong support for the provincialism hypothesis, which posits that Laramidia-the western landmass formed by inundation of the central region of North America by the Western Interior Seaway-hosted at least two coeval dinosaur communities for over a million years of late Campanian time.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: BIOLOGICAL RESEARCH COLLECTION | Award Amount: 450.00K | Year: 2014

This project proposes to secure and digitize a collection of fossils at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science (DMNS), accommodating their use as part of the strong suite research and outreach activities at that institution. The fossil vertebrate collection will continue to enhance DMNS exhibits, visitor programming, and educational outreach activities. This project will utilize the Museums large volunteer program, which unites the public with museum collections to assist with project-related tasks. The collections and their importance will be highlighted in a series of Scientists in Action satellite broadcasts directly from the Museum, connecting scientists with grades 4-12 students. Additionally, underrepresented high school students interested in science careers will work on collections-based research projects through the Museums successful Teen Science Scholars Program, contributing to their success in STEM fields.

The Denver Museum of Nature & Science (DMNS) is the largest public natural history museum in the Rocky Mountain region. The Museum houses a rapidly expanding fossil vertebrate collection spanning more than 330 million years of evolution in the Rocky Mountain region and beyond. Over the past 20 years, the collection has experienced the greatest period of growth in its history, with acquisitions outpacing the institutions ability to store, curate, and digitize fossils. Coupled with the completion of a new state-of-the-art collections facility, this project provides support for the digitization of over 56,000 significant vertebrate fossils, increasing accessibility and facilitating research and education. Additional information about the Museums scientific and outreach missions, as they relate to this project, is publicly available at:

Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 504.42K | Year: 2011

An award was made to the Denver Museum of Nature & Science (DMNS) to: 1) purchase replacement cabinets to uncrowd and rehouse approximately 80% of the mammal collection; 2) support a full-time collections technician to assist with inventory, uncrowding, and rehousing of specimens, data validation, and database work; 3) migrate mammal collection records to the web-accessible, multi-institutional database, Arctos; and 4) continue to build on the exceptional record of delivering science and collections to the general public in a multitude of different ways. The mammal collection contains approximately 14,000 specimens that record 140 years of biodiversity and change in the Rocky Mountain and Great Plains region and beyond. Since 2006, the collection has experienced the greatest period of growth in the museums 110-year history, including establishment of new frozen tissue and parasite subcollections.

There is a strong suite of broader impacts associated with this project capitalizing on DMNSs role as the largest public natural history museum in the region. Due to the greater web visibility afforded by the database Arctos, the value of the mammal collection to the scientific community and public will increase along with the novel questions and methods being applied to museum collections from the fields of biogeography, biosystematics, community ecology, morphology, and biological informatics. The team will continue to build on an exceptional record of providing public access to view and learn about DMNS collections. The mammal collection will continue to be leveraged to enhance DMNS exhibits, visitor programming, and various educational programs. The team will utilize the Museums large volunteer program, which unites the public with collections and science, to assist with project-related tasks. The mammal collection and its importance will be highlighted in a series of Scientists-in-Action satellite broadcasts that connect a curator with grades 4-12 students from the field or collections. Additionally, underrepresented high school students interested in careers in science will work in the mammal collection on research projects through the Museums successful Teen Science Scholars Program.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: COLLABORATIVE RESEARCH | Award Amount: 200.53K | Year: 2016

Cretaceous Vertebrates from Madagascar: A Window into the Biogeographic and Plate Tectonic History of Gondwana

David Krause, Stoneybrook, EAR-1528273
Patrick OConner, Ohio University, EAR-1525915

This proposal is jointly funded by the Sedimentary Geology and Paleobiology Program (EAR/GEO) and the Africa, Near East & South Asia Program/Office of International Science and Engineering (OD).


Non-technical Explanation
The latter half of the Mesozoic Era witnessed profound changes in the configuration of landmasses that comprised the southern supercontinent Gondwana, with dramatic consequences for the associated vertebrate faunas. Madagascar lay near the center of Gondwana as it fragmented into its component parts. This proposal seeks to continue a project designed to discover and describe vertebrate fossils in a sequence of Cretaceous strata on the island, to analyze their paleobiology, to place them in phylogenetic and geologic context, and to employ them in testing biogeographic and plate tectonic hypotheses related to Gondwana as a whole and Madagascar in particular. PIs work in the Cretaceous of Madagascar is only at the very beginning of reaching its potential. To date, they have quintupled the previously known species diversity of Late Cretaceous vertebrates from the island and have discovered some of the most complete and spectacularly preserved specimens of Late Cretaceous vertebrates from the southern hemisphere and, indeed, the world. Many new taxa have been named and described. But much remains to be done in the vast expanses of paleontologically and geologically unexplored Cretaceous rocks of Madagascar. Many taxa are known by only fragmentary remains; many others are still to be discovered. With continued work, PIs are confident that Madagascars Cretaceous vertebrate fauna will become one of the best known and best contextualized from the southern hemisphere and one of the primary standards against which other Gondwanan faunas of Cretaceous age are compared.

Technical Description
PIs propose to continue collecting terrestrial and freshwater vertebrate fossils of latest Cretaceous age from the Berivotra Study Area of the Mahajanga Basin of northwestern Madagascar, which continues to produce exquisite material of poorly known taxa and specimens of new taxa. Although they have published many detailed anatomical, functional, and phylogenetic analyses of taxa known from this basin, many more have been initiated and remain to be completed (in particular, on albuloid and amiid fishes, crocodyliforms, pterosaurs, sauropod and abelisauroid theropod dinosaurs, birds and other paravian theropods, and mammals). Some of this work will entail histological sampling, thus enabling a comparative analysis of ecosystem-scale, inter-element histological variation within single vertebrate skeletons and testing of hypotheses related to possible responses and growth history adaptations of taxa that are phylogenetically constrained, but which exhibit a wide array of morphological and functional specializations.
PIs also propose to continue developing newly discovered field areas in the Mahajanga Basin, which are yielding new taxa of roughly the same age but from different paleoenvironmental settings. Finally, they propose to expand their efforts into the Morondava Basin of western Madagascar, where brief expeditions in 2010 and 2012 yielded important finds and demonstrated the potential for many more from strata older than those yielding fossils in the Mahajanga Basin. Discoveries from these earlier horizons will provide a deeper temporal context with which to address biogeographic and plate tectonic hypotheses. Indeed, PIs discoveries continue to have profound implications for the biogeographic history of the extant and extinct Malagasy fauna and for the relative importance of dispersal and vicariance during Gondwanan fragmentation. One of their overarching goals is to provide a key building block for reconstructing Gondwanan biogeographic history in the form of a temporally controlled, well-sampled vertebrate fauna from the Cretaceous of Madagascar analyzed in a rigorous phylogenetic framework, and within the context of accurate paleogeographic reconstructions.
It remains a priority to conduct detailed stratigraphic, sedimentologic, and taphonomic studies of all sampled horizons in order to provide temporal control as well as paleoenvironmental and paleoclimatic context. More specifically, PIs propose to conduct: (1) a comprehensive analysis of Maevarano Formation taphonomy that will provide taxonomic summaries and maps for each major quarry, and will detail the preservation of the Maevarano Formation?s exceptionally-preserved vertebrate record; (2) a comprehensive report on the geochemistry and micromorphology of exceptionally-preserved paleosols and associated fluvial sediments in the Masorobe and Anembalemba members of the Maevarano Formation, which will provide critical insights into paleoclimate; (3) a study focused on trace fossils discovered in the Maevarano Formation, specifically back-filled burrows associated with an entombed carcass (subterranean scavenging); and (4) a study clarifying and formalizing the lithostratigraphy of Upper Cretaceous horizons in the Morondava Basin.

Collaborative Research Digitization TCN: Southwest Collections of Arthropods Network (SCAN): A Model for Collections Digitization to Promote Taxonomic and Ecological Research

The Southwest Collections of Arthropods Network (SCAN) brings together 10 diverse arthropod collections at universities and museums throughout the Southwest to create a virtual network of ground dwelling arthropods which are notably responsive to temporal and spatial environmental changes. These 10 collections document much of the Southwests biodiversity, but currently the data associated with millions of arthropod specimens are not easily accessible. To overcome this, SCAN will develop methods for integrating existing databases, catalogue-image specimens, develop new electronic identification techniques, and produce a virtual library of ground-dwelling arthropods (beetles, grasshoppers, spiders, ants). In addition the project will work with the existing project Filtered Push to increase the capacity of experts to provide remote identifications and annotations of data that can be sent throughout the network.

The comprehensive SCAN online library and expert information will be available to the public as well as professionals in taxonomy, ecology, and climate change science. Smaller institutions will be provided increased access to large data sets for promoting research. The SCAN datasets will support a number of ongoing projects examining the effects of environmental and land-use change on individual arthropod species. By increasing access to this information, SCAN will stimulate new research and increased awareness in biodiversity conservation throughout the region. Over 50 undergraduates also will be trained in cyberinfrastructure, systematics, and ecology. This award is made as part of the National Resource for Digitization of Biological Collections through the Advancing Digitization of Biological Collections program and all data resulting from this award will be available through the national resource,

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: Digitization | Award Amount: 45.68K | Year: 2016

Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths) are one of the most diverse groups of organisms on the planet: worldwide there are approximately 160,000 species, including around 14,300 species in North America. Moths and butterflies are a conspicuous component of terrestrial habitats and one of the most diverse groups of plant-feeding animals worldwide. This group insect includes species of great economic importance. Their juveniles feed on plants useful to humans, including grains, cotton, tobacco, and timber and shade trees. However, many of the adults are beneficial as pollinators and are icons of conservation as evidenced by Monarch butterflies. Given their economic importance and sheer beauty, butterflies and moths are one of the most abundant insect group in museum collections, but only a fraction of the approximately 15 million specimens in non-federal collections have had their specimen label information digitally recorded and accessible to researchers and educators. Of those specimens that have been digitized, fewer than 10% of the North American Lepidoptera species have sufficient, accessible occurrence data to make reliable predictions about habitat use, susceptibility to global change impacts, or other ecologically important interactions. This project will digitize and integrate existing, unconnected collections of lepidopterans to leverage the outstanding potential of this group of organisms for transformative research, training and outreach.

The Lepidoptera of North America Network (LepNet) comprises 26 research collections that will digitize approximately 2 million specimen records and integrate these with over 1 million existing records. LepNet will digitize 43,280 larval vial records with host plant data, making this the first significant digitization of larvae in North American collections. LepNet will produce ca. 82,000 high-quality images of exemplar species covering 60% of North American lepidopteran species. These images will enhance remote identifications and facilitate systematic, ecological, and global change research. In collaboration with Visipedia, LepNet will create LepSnap, a computer vision tool that can provide automated identifications to the species level. Museum volunteers and student researchers equipped with smartphones will image >132,000 additional research-quality images through LepSnap. Up to 5,000 lepidopteran species will be elevated to a research ready status suitable for complex, data-driven analyses. LepNet will build on the existing data portal (SCAN) in consolidating data on Lepidoptera to the evolution of lepidopteran herbivores in North America. Access to these data will be increased through integration with iDigBio. Data for a broad range of research, including the evolutionary ecology of Lepidoptera and their host plants in the context of global change processes affecting biogeographic distributions will be generated. The LepXPLOR! program will spearhead education and outreach efforts for 67 existing programs, engaging a diverse, nationwide workforce of 400+ students and 3,500+ volunteers. Overall, LepNet will generate a sustainable social-research network dedicated to the creation and maintenance of a digital collection of North American Lepidoptera specimens (

Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 366.59K | Year: 2012

An award is made to the Denver Museum of Nature & Science (DMNS) to provide cabinetry for uncrowding and re-curating the insect collection, ensuring optimum physical accessibility and preservation, and to initiate the electronic accessibility of the collection through populating the Museums new database system, KE Emu. The collection comprises more than 796,000 specimens recording 130 years of changing biodiversity in the region and the world, and since 2007, has experienced the greatest period of growth in its 110-year history, a 728% increase in overall size. This increase has been coupled with concurrent research and focused collecting programs. DMNS is currently building a new state-of-the-art collections preservation facility. Over 100,000 records will be databased over the course of the project. Substantially improved accessibility and visibility will increase the use of the collection for scientific and outreach purposes. The butterfly and moth collection will be showcased, partially uncrowded and in new cabinets, during an international lepidopterists conference that DMNS hosts in July 2012.

As one of the larger natural history museums in the country with 1.4 million visitors annually, DMNS will build on a record of providing access and opportunities to the public to view and learn about collections (3,600+ visitors to the entomology collection in 2011). The collection will continue to be leveraged to enhance the Museums exhibits, visitor programming, various educational programs, and online venues. The Museums large volunteer program, which unites the public with collections and science, will help carry out project-related tasks. A series of Scientists-in-Action satellite broadcasts that connect curators with grades 4-12 students will highlight the collections and their importance. Additionally, underrepresented high school students (young women and minority students) interested in science careers will work in the entomology collections on research and collections projects through the Museums successful Teen Science Scholars Program.

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