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News Article | December 12, 2016
Site: www.eurekalert.org

New research led by the American Museum of Natural History suggests that there are about 18,000 bird species in the world--nearly twice as many as previously thought. The work focuses on "hidden" avian diversity--birds that look similar to one another, or were thought to interbreed, but are actually different species. Recently published in the journal PLOS ONE, the study has serious implications for conservation practices. "We are proposing a major change to how we count diversity," said Joel Cracraft, an author of the study and a curator in the American Museum of Natural History's Department of Ornithology. "This new number says that we haven't been counting and conserving species in the ways we want." Birds are traditionally thought of as a well-studied group, with more than 95 percent of their global species diversity estimated to have been described. Most checklists used by bird watchers as well as by scientists say that there are roughly between 9,000 and 10,000 species of birds. But those numbers are based on what's known as the "biological species concept," which defines species in terms of what animals can breed together. "It's really an outdated point of view, and it's a concept that is hardly used in taxonomy outside of birds," said lead author George Barrowclough, an associate curator in the Museum's Department of Ornithology. For the new work, Cracraft, Barrowclough, and their colleagues at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, and the University of Washington examined a random sample of 200 bird species through the lens of morphology--the study of the physical characteristics like plumage pattern and color, which can be used to highlight birds with separate evolutionary histories. This method turned up, on average, nearly two different species for each of the 200 birds studied. This suggests that bird biodiversity is severely underestimated, and is likely closer to 18,000 species worldwide. The researchers also surveyed existing genetic studies of birds, which revealed that there could be upwards of 20,000 species. But because the birds in this body of work were not selected randomly--and, in fact, many were likely chosen for study because they were already thought to have interesting genetic variation--this could be an overestimate. The authors argue that future taxonomy efforts in ornithology should be based on both methods. "It was not our intent to propose new names for each of the more than 600 new species we identified in the research sample," Cracraft said. "However, our study provides a glimpse of what a future taxonomy should encompass." Increasing the number of species has implications for preserving biodiversity and other conservation efforts. "We have decided societally that the target for conservation is the species," said Robert Zink, a co-author of the study and a biologist at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. "So it follows then that we really need to be clear about what a species is, how many there are, and where they're found." John Klicka, from the University of Washington, Seattle, also was a co-author on this study. This work was funded, in part, by the U.S. National Science Foundation, grant #s 1241066 and 1146423. The American Museum of Natural History, founded in 1869, is one of the world's preeminent scientific, educational, and cultural institutions. The Museum encompasses 45 permanent exhibition halls, including the Rose Center for Earth and Space and the Hayden Planetarium, as well as galleries for temporary exhibitions. It is home to the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial, New York State's official memorial to its 33rd governor and the nation's 26th president, and a tribute to Roosevelt's enduring legacy of conservation. The Museum's five active research divisions and three cross-disciplinary centers support approximately 200 scientists, whose work draws on a world-class permanent collection of more than 33 million specimens and artifacts, as well as specialized collections for frozen tissue and genomic and astrophysical data, and one of the largest natural history libraries in the world. Through its Richard Gilder Graduate School, it is the only American museum authorized to grant the Ph.D. degree and the Master of Arts in Teaching degree. Annual attendance has grown to approximately 5 million, and the Museum's exhibitions and Space Shows can be seen in venues on five continents. The Museum's website and collection of apps for mobile devices extend its collections, exhibitions, and educational programs to millions more beyond its walls. Visit amnh.org for more information. Become a fan of the Museum on Facebook at facebook.com/naturalhistory, and follow us on Instagram at @AMNH, Tumblr at amnhnyc, or Twitter at twitter.com/AMNH.


A research group led by the American Museum of Natural History and global wild cat conservation organization Panthera has published the largest gene-based survey of its kind on wild jaguar populations in Mesoamerica. The analysis, published today in the journal PLOS ONE, is based on nearly 450 jaguar scat samples collected in Belize, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico. This work identifies areas of conservation concern for Mesoamerican jaguars and underscores the importance of large-scale genetic monitoring efforts when prioritizing conservation and management efforts for this near-threatened, and elusive, carnivore species. "Mesoamerica has one of the highest deforestation rates worldwide, potentially limiting movement and genetic connectivity in forest-dependent jaguars across this fragmented landscape. Large-scale conservation genetics studies on wild jaguars spanning across several range countries assessing these threats are rare and suffer from low sample sizes for this region," said Claudia Wultsch, the lead author of the paper, a scientist in the Museum's Sackler Institute for Comparative Genomics, and a conservation research fellow at Panthera. "Over the last 100 years, jaguars in Mesoamerica have been pushed out from more than 77 percent of their historic range." To get a better idea of the genetic health and connectivity of jaguar populations in this area and the effectiveness of the existing wildlife corridors (i.e., stretches of habitat that facilitate movement between local populations), the researchers turned to DNA obtained from field-collected jaguar scat. This non-invasive technique lets researchers gather large DNA sample sizes of difficult-to-study wildlife species, such as big cats, without physically capturing, handling, or disturbing the animals. Since these samples quickly degrade in the warm and humid conditions of the tropical countries, however, a great deal of laboratory work has to be done to successfully analyze the DNA. "We believe that these jaguars were once continuously distributed over the whole landscape of Mesoamerica, but human activity has resulted in smaller populations that are isolated from other groups," said George Amato, director of the Museum's Sackler Institute for Comparative Genomics and the paper's senior author. "We want to know whether this fragmentation is resulting in reduced gene flow or inbreeding or other things that might be detrimental to the animals. But most importantly, we want to figure out ways to reconnect these populations or, even if they're not completely isolated, to engage in activities that allow jaguars to move more freely across the landscape. One of the only ways to do this is through genetic analysis." The researchers analyzed DNA from 115 individual jaguars spread across five Mesoamerican countries. Overall, they found moderate levels of genetic variation in the jaguars, with the lowest diversity in Mexico, followed by Honduras. Low levels of genetic diversity could decrease reproductive fitness and resistance to disease, and generally lower animals' potential to adapt to a changing environment. When assessing genetic connectivity in Mesoamerican jaguars, the scientists found low levels of gene flow between jaguars in the Selva Maya -- the largest contiguous tropical forest north of the Amazon, spreading over northern Guatemala, central Belize, and southern Mexico -- and those in Honduras. This suggests that there is limited jaguar movement between these two areas, which is somewhat surprising since they are so geographically close. Although more data are needed to fill gaps in the study, the authors say that the region connecting these sites faces rapid land-cover changes, which have severely increased over the last two decades, putting remaining stepping-stone habitats for jaguars at further risk. This region represents a conservation priority and the authors recommend continued management and maintenance of jaguar corridors and mitigation of jaguars' main threats (e.g., human-wildlife conflict). "Large-scale conservation strategies such as Panthera's Jaguar Corridor Initiative, which are instrumental to protect broadly distributed species such as jaguars, maintain their connectivity, and by doing so to ensure their long-term survival, need to incorporate genetic monitoring of wild populations to fully understand how these species respond to environmental changes and increasing levels of human impacts," Wultsch said. Other authors on the study include Anthony Caragiulo and Salisa Rabinowitz, American Museum of Natural History; Isabela Dias-Freedman, Rutgers University; and Howard Quigley, Panthera. The American Museum of Natural History, founded in 1869, is one of the world's preeminent scientific, educational, and cultural institutions. The Museum encompasses 45 permanent exhibition halls, including the Rose Center for Earth and Space and the Hayden Planetarium, as well as galleries for temporary exhibitions. It is home to the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial, New York State's official memorial to its 33rd governor and the nation's 26th president, and a tribute to Roosevelt's enduring legacy of conservation. The Museum's five active research divisions and three cross-disciplinary centers support approximately 200 scientists, whose work draws on a world-class permanent collection of more than 33 million specimens and artifacts, as well as specialized collections for frozen tissue and genomic and astrophysical data, and one of the largest natural history libraries in the world. Through its Richard Gilder Graduate School, it is the only American museum authorized to grant the Ph.D. degree and the Master of Arts in Teaching degree. Annual attendance has grown to approximately 5 million, and the Museum's exhibitions and Space Shows can be seen in venues on five continents. The Museum's website and collection of apps for mobile devices extend its collections, exhibitions, and educational programs to millions more beyond its walls. Visit amnh.org for more information. Become a fan of the Museum on Facebook at facebook.com/naturalhistory, and follow us on Instagram at @AMNH, Tumblr at amnhnyc, or Twitter at twitter.com/AMNH.


News Article | February 17, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

New DNA-based research provides compelling evidence that a group of strange-looking fish living near the mouth of the Congo River are evolving due to the intense hydraulics of the river's rapids and deep canyons. The study, led by scientists at the American Museum of Natural History, the City University of New York, and Fordham University, reveals that fishes in this part of the river live in "neighborhoods" that are separated from one another by the waters' turbulent flow. In some cases, the researchers found that fishes living less than a mile away from their relatives are actually exchanging very few genes. Many represent distinct species, according to the new study now out in the journal Molecular Ecology. "In this very short section of the Congo, we find a tremendous diversity of fishes," said Melanie Stiassny, Axelrod Research Curator in the Museum's Department of Ichthyology and an author on the study. "We also know that this part of the river is relatively young, originating only about 3 to 5 million years ago. So what is it about this system that makes it such a pump for species?" For the last 10 years, Stiassny and her colleagues, including hydrologists and geologists, have studied the lower Congo River -- the final 200-mile stretch of the freshwater river before it empties into the Atlantic Ocean. Exceptional in depth, speed, and turbulence, the lower Congo is home to the world's most extreme rapids. The region is also remarkable for its biodiversity; scientists have identified more than 300 species of fish living there. That diversity has long seemed puzzling to scientists because the lower Congo appeared to lack physical barriers which, if difficult to traverse, are understood to drive speciation by preventing animals from either side from breeding. Over time, this causes each group to develop separately. The new study, which focuses on a group of freshwater, rock-dwelling cichlid fishes of the genus Teleogramma, adds weight to a theory long proposed by Stiassny and other experts: that the dynamic forces of the river itself are acting like barriers, generating diversity by isolating certain fishes from others for so long that their populations travel down different evolutionary paths. "The genetic separation between these fishes show that the rapids are working as strong barriers, keeping them apart," said lead author Elizabeth Alter, from The City University of New York's Graduate Center and York College. "What's particularly unique about the lower Congo is that this diversification is happening over extremely small spatial scales, over distances as small as 1.5 kilometers. There is no other river like it." The researchers analyzed the genomes of more than 50 individual fishes representing each of the different Teleogramma populations found in the lower Congo. They found that their species ranges correspond to geographic regions broadly separated by major hydrological and topographic barriers, indicating that these features are likely important drivers of diversification. The authors also note that there are important conservation implications to this work: about 25 percent of the fish in the lower Congo are endemic, or only found in this particular location. But the area is currently being proposed as a site for major dam development. "Activity like that would majorly interrupt the evolutionary potential of this system," Stiassny said. Jason Munshi-South, from Fordham University, was also an author on this paper. The American Museum of Natural History, founded in 1869, is one of the world's preeminent scientific, educational, and cultural institutions. The Museum encompasses 45 permanent exhibition halls, including those in the Rose Center for Earth and Space and the Hayden Planetarium, as well as galleries for temporary exhibitions. It is home to New York State's official memorial to Theodore Roosevelt, a tribute to Roosevelt's enduring legacy of environmental conservation. The Museum's approximately 200 scientists draw on a world-class research collection of more than 33 million artifacts and specimens, some of which are billions of years old, and on one of the largest natural history libraries in the world. Through its Richard Gilder Graduate School, the Museum grants the Ph.D. degree in Comparative Biology and the Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) degree, the only such program at any museum in the United States. Annual physical attendance has grown to approximately 5 million, and the Museum's exhibitions and Space Shows can be seen in venues on six continents. The Museum's website, digital videos, and apps for mobile devices bring its collections, exhibitions, and educational programs to millions more around the world. Visit amnh.org for more information. Become a fan of the Museum on Facebook at facebook.com/naturalhistory, and follow us on Instagram at @AMNH, Tumblr at amnhnyc, or Twitter at twitter.com/AMNH.


News Article | December 12, 2016
Site: news.yahoo.com

One of the world's biggest and most prestigious museums says it has cut its holdings in fossil fuel companies. The American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) on Monday said it had reduced its financial exposure to coal, oil and natural gas companies. The New York City institution said the move aligns with its longstanding efforts to help protect the fragile planet. SEE ALSO: Dramatic NatGeo photos show how climate change is transforming the world "We hope we can achieve our collective goal of global sustainability while maximizing the resources each of our institutions brings to bear on this vital issue," Daniel Stoddard, AMNH's chief investment officer, wrote in a letter to environmental groups. The museum's announcement was celebrated by climate groups calling on institutions to divest from fossil fuels, although the museum said its efforts were not divestment. Hundreds of institutions in dozens of countries have made commitments to shed their holdings in fossil fuel stocks. The institutions represent a combined $5 trillion in assets under management, up from $2.6 trillion in total assets last year, Arabella Advisors, a sustainable investment firm, reported Monday. Divestment proponents say their goal is not necessarily to bankrupt energy companies. Instead, the idea is that by eliminating holdings in fossil fuels, investors send a signal that those energy companies are undesirable and morally incompatible with a low-carbon future. Museums in particular are facing pressure to divest because they play such an influential role in shaping the public's understanding of science and natural history. In the U.S., museums are also among the most trusted institutions, according to the American Alliance of Museums. "We look at these institutions as powerful spaces to communicate science and natural history and to help people understand our relationship to nature," said Beka Economopoulos, who directs the Natural History Museum, a mobile museum that champions climate action. "We want to activate these dusty dioramas and help make science and natural history more relevant to people's day to day lives and pressing contemporary concerns," she told Mashable. Economopoulos and members of the grassroots activist group 350.org are leading the campaign to get museums to reevaluate their fossil fuel holdings. The organizers argue that since museums are largely considered beacons of scientific truth, it doesn't make sense for museums to maintain ties to companies or individuals that profit from fossil fuels or fund lobbying groups that spread false information on climate science. Since March 2015, around 150 climate scientists have signed a letter warning museum directors that their fossil fuel connections could "undermine public confidence in the validity of these institutions." Anne Canty, a spokeswoman for AMNH, said the natural history museum began reviewing its fossil fuel exposure in 2014. "It's such a broad issue in society that we thought it warranted this kind of review," Canty told Mashable.  The museum's $650 million endowment doesn't include any direct investments in fossil fuels, according to Stoddard's letter to environmentalists. But a small percentage of indirect holdings are connected to oil, coal and natural gas companies through pooled investment funds. In June 2015, the museum asked all its investment managers to "take environmental and climate change issues into account" when reviewing existing investments and when making new investments. As a result, AMNH's fossil fuel investments have declined from about 4 percent of its endowment in 2014 to less than 2 percent today. The museum is also looking for portfolio managers who prioritize investments in renewable energy, according to the letter. Monday's news was a major boost for climate groups working to get museums to distance themselves from fossil fuels, activists said. So far, only about seven other science and natural history museums have divulged their plans to reduce investments in fossil fuels, and most have done so with little fanfare. The Field Museum in Chicago first announced its divestment decision in November 2015, in response to a tweet from 350.org's Chicago branch. A spokesperson for the Field Museum confirmed via email that the institution had "divested from direct holdings in fossil fuels in 2015" but did not elaborate. Other institutions have so far resisted activists' calls to break their ties to fossil fuels. The Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., told Mashable it did not have a formal policy on fossil fuel companies and was not involved in any organized divestment campaigns. Economopoulos said she hoped AMNH's announcement would encourage the Smithsonian and other institutions to reconsider their connections to fossil fuels — particularly at a time when President-elect Donald Trump is vowing to undermine climate change policy at the federal level. "This is precisely a time when we need to stand up for science," she said. Correction, Dec. 12, 2016: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the American Museum of Natural History was divesting from fossil fuel companies. The museum said it is "reducing its exposure" to fossil fuels. BONUS: Powerful image of Michelle Obama embracing George W. Bush at museum opening goes viral


News Article | December 6, 2016
Site: www.eurekalert.org

New research examines how vertebrate species in the eastern United States ranging from snakes to mammals to birds responded to climate change over the last 500,000 years. The study, recently published in the journal Ecology Letters, reveals that contrary to expectation, the massive glaciers that expanded and contracted across the region affected animal populations in different ways at different times. The analysis provides a window into how animals might react to any kind of climate change, whether glacial cycles or global warming. "A big glacier should have affected everybody. It doesn't matter if you're a snake or a bird, it probably makes it hard to live there," said Frank Burbrink, an associate curator in the American Museum of Natural History's Department of Herpetology and lead author of the study. "So did these communities all change together as if they were one unit? There's never been a study that has comprehensively analyzed whether vertebrate communities responded to the glacial cycles in a uniform way." The most recent, rapid, and significant effect of global climate change occurred about 2.5 million years ago in the Quaternary period, when ice sheets expanded and contracted, altering both the environment and available land. In the area known as the Eastern Nearctic--defined as the forested and coastal regions of the eastern United States--glaciers extended as far south in the east to New York City and in the Midwest to south central Illinois. Temperature changed rapidly, in some cases at the rate of 5 to 10 degrees Celsius (about 40 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit) within several decades. To analyze the impact of this climate change, multidisciplinary researchers from the Museum, the 'Iolani School in Honolulu, the City University of New York's College of Staten Island, and Louisiana State University focused on the historical population sizes of tetrapods--snakes, lizards, mammals, birds, turtles, salamanders, and frogs--in the Eastern Nearctic over the last 500,000 years. They did this by looking at the animals' genomes and modeling the likelihood of their populations growing or shrinking. "When a glacier retreats, all of the organisms that were pushed south move back into that space and the signal of those changing populations gets imprinted in the genome," Burbrink said. "If you look at any individual species, you can see what its population has been doing over time based on how many changes they have in their genome. When populations expand, they have more genetic differences. And when populations are small, they have fewer." The longstanding scientific thought is that as a glacier recedes, local populations will expand "synchronously," or all at the same time. But the researchers did not find a uniform response to climate change within the tetrapod community. About 75 percent of the animals went through a population expansion, with only about 50 percent of those lineages expanding together. And 25 percent of the populations contracted. The results imply that there are additional layers of complexity involved in this problem. "In some ways, the old idea that the glacier receding would have a single effect on everything in the community is naïve," Burbrink said. And what do the results mean for the global warming the Earth is currently facing? "We need to move beyond viewing communities as single units," said co-author Brian T. Smith, an assistant curator in the Museum's Department of Ornithology. "Some species will respond in one way and others will respond in other ways. And there are many external historical, biological, and stochastic factors that will influence how populations respond to global warming." Other authors on this study include Yvonne Chan from the 'Iolani School, Edward Myers and Michael Hickerson from the City University of New York, and Sara Ruane from Louisiana State University. This work was funded in part by National Science Foundation grant #s DEB 1257926, DOB 1343578, DEB 1253710, the 7th European Community Framework Programme, and the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP). The American Museum of Natural History, founded in 1869, is one of the world's preeminent scientific, educational, and cultural institutions. The Museum encompasses 45 permanent exhibition halls, including the Rose Center for Earth and Space and the Hayden Planetarium, as well as galleries for temporary exhibitions. It is home to the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial, New York State's official memorial to its 33rd governor and the nation's 26th president, and a tribute to Roosevelt's enduring legacy of conservation. The Museum's five active research divisions and three cross-disciplinary centers support approximately 200 scientists, whose work draws on a world-class permanent collection of more than 33 million specimens and artifacts, as well as specialized collections for frozen tissue and genomic and astrophysical data, and one of the largest natural history libraries in the world. Through its Richard Gilder Graduate School, it is the only American museum authorized to grant the Ph.D. degree and the Master of Arts in Teaching degree. Annual attendance has grown to approximately 5 million, and the Museum's exhibitions and Space Shows can be seen in venues on five continents. The Museum's website and collection of apps for mobile devices extend its collections, exhibitions, and educational programs to millions more beyond its walls. Visit amnh.org for more information. Become a fan of the Museum on Facebook at facebook.com/naturalhistory, and follow us on Instagram at @AMNH, Tumblr at amnhnyc, or Twitter at twitter.com/AMNH.


News Article | November 21, 2016
Site: www.prweb.com

The Lucerne Hotel is pleased to announce their “Personalize Your New York City Escape” deal. Giving travelers a unique getaway experience to look forward to following the holiday season, The Lucerne is offering up to 35% off guests’ stays from January 1 through March 31, 2017 and July 1 through August 31, 2017. In addition, guests will receive 15% off on-site breakfast at Nice Matin and 20% off on-site spa treatments, plus complimentary Wi-Fi access and evening wine hour. “Every day, we are dedicated to providing our guests with personalized service,” says Douglas Brookman, Director of Operations at The Lucerne Hotel. “We decided to focus on our commitment with this year’s Cyber Monday deal and encourage our guests to indulge with the unique amenities available at The Lucerne. Whether they opt for a gourmet breakfast at Nice Matin or a relaxing spa treatment, each guest will be treated to a memorable stay at our boutique property.” This seasonal package from The Lucerne makes it easy for visitors to explore Manhattan’s posh Upper West Side neighborhood. Offering convenient access to major landmarks, this recently renovated hotel provides a home-away-from-home experience within walking distance of Central Park. The luxurious accommodations are equipped with premium amenities with in-room spa treatments and 24-hour room service available. Guests can also take advantage of the on-site facilities including a state-of-the-art fitness center, concierge desk, and more. The Lucerne’s offer is live on November 28 and includes up to 35% off non-refundable rates, or up to 20% off refundable rates. In addition, from November 21 to November 27 and November 29 to December 5, the hotel will be offering 10% off all room types. About The Lucerne Hotel The Lucerne Hotel is a luxury Upper West Side hotel featuring 202 spacious guest rooms within a recently renovated historic property. This boutique hotel offers on-site French-Mediterranean dining at Nice Matin, as well as tempting treatments from the on-site spa. Additional facilities and services include a fitness center, concierge desk, 24-hour room service, a business center, airport transfers, complimentary newspapers, and special events meeting rooms. Guests can enjoy proximity to Central Park, Lincoln Center, The American Museum of Natural History, Columbia University, and other major attractions. Learn more at http://www.thelucernehotel.com.


Meet the Titanosaur, one of the world's biggest dinosaur discovered so far, and currently in display in the United States. The 122-foot-long and 140,000-pound dinosaur was unearthed in Patagonia. Its size is equal to almost 10 African elephants. The American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan, New York unveiled what may be the world's biggest dinosaur in an advanced viewing on Thursday. Simply dubbed Titanosaur, the paleontologists who unearthed the giant have not yet found a scientific name for it. Its full unveiling and launch will be held today. Instead of occupying one room, it is housed in a two rooms that have 19-foot-high ceilings. But the Titanosaur is so big, its 39-foot-long neck still sticks out of the exhibition space, with its head craning beyond the entrance, as if to stare or perhaps greet museum visitors. "At 122-foot, is just a bit too long for its new home. Instead, its neck and head extend out towards the elevator banks, welcoming visitors to the "dinosaur" floor," the museum said. "One femur found at the excavation site will be among five original fossils on temporary view with The Titanosaur," it added. The other fossils found at the site are the dinosaur's humerus, ulna, radius and scapula, which are all on temporary display. The species lived in the forests of what people know today as Patagonia in Argentina about 100 to 95 million years ago. The Titanosaur was known to have lived during the Late Cretaceous period. A team from the Museo Paleontologico Egidio Feruglio, led by José Luis Carballido and Diego Pol, unearthed the fossils of the gigantic dinosaur in Argentina in 2014. Scientists have long been exploring Argentina to track down Titanosaurs, which is a large sauropod among the last dinosaurs to walk the Earth. Much of the scientific evidence shows that the Titanosaur is one of the large herbivores that have roamed Earth millions of years ago. At present, an exploration of possible resting places of this species is still ongoing. Will they find another Titanosaur bigger than the one on display in the museum?


News Article | December 13, 2016
Site: cleantechnica.com

The American Museum of Natural History, the country’s oldest, largest, and one of the most popular museums in the country, has revealed it has partially divested its $650 million endowment from fossil fuel investments, in response to a letter signed by more than 150 of the world’s top scientists urging museums of science and natural history to divest. In March of 2015, an Open Letter was sent ‘To Museums of Science and Natural History’ expressing ‘deep concern’ for “the links between museums of science and natural history with those who profit from fossil fuels or fund lobby groups that misrepresent climate science.” “Drawing on both our scientific expertise and personal care for our planet and people, we believe that the only ethical way forward for our museums is to cut all ties with the fossil fuel industry and funders of climate science obfuscation.” The letter was signed by more than 150 of the world’s top scientists, headed by the ubiquitous James Hansen, among many other leading scientists. Nearly two years later, the American Museum of Natural History has confirmed it has reduced its endowment’s fossil fuel exposure. Currently, according to a letter (PDF) from Daniel Stoddard, the Museum’s Vice President and Chief Investment Officer, the Museum holds no direct investments in fossil fuel companies, following a move in June 2015 by the Museum requiring its investment managers “take environmental and climate change issues into account when reviewing their current investments and in considering making new investments.” Further, the Museum’s indirect holdings in fossil fuel investments have decreased from 4% in 2014 to less than 2%. “As anti-science forces have gained unprecedented power in the White House and Congress, the role of our most trusted institutions of science is more important than ever,” said Beka Economopoulos of The Natural History Museum, a mobile and pop-up museum that champions bold climate action. “We applaud the American Museum of Natural History for slashing investments in the very companies that have spread climate science disinformation for decades. We hope this encourages other science museums to stand up for science and cut ties to fossil fuels.” “In the face of climate catastrophe, our cultural institutions have a unique responsibility to do more than observe and curate history — they must stand up to help make it,” said Katie McChesney, 350.org US Divestment Campaign Manager. “As we enter the final weeks of the hottest year in history, with a regressive and corrupt incoming administration, it is not enough for museums to accept the scientific consensus on human-caused climate change. We need museums of science and natural history to take a stand.” Buy a cool T-shirt or mug in the CleanTechnica store!   Keep up to date with all the hottest cleantech news by subscribing to our (free) cleantech daily newsletter or weekly newsletter, or keep an eye on sector-specific news by getting our (also free) solar energy newsletter, electric vehicle newsletter, or wind energy newsletter.


Iles D.T.,Utah State University | Peterson S.L.,Utah State University | Gormezano L.J.,The American Museum of Natural History | Koons D.N.,Utah State University | Rockwell R.F.,The American Museum of Natural History
Polar Biology | Year: 2013

Behavioral predictions based on optimal foraging models that assume an energy-maximizing strategy have been challenged on both theoretical and empirical grounds. Although polar bears (Ursus maritimus) are specialist predators of seal pups on the Arctic ice pack, the use of terrestrial food sources during the ice-free period has received increased attention in recent years in light of climate predictions. Across a 10-day period of observation, we documented between four and six individual polar bears successfully capture at least nine flightless lesser snow geese (Chen caerulescens caerulescens) and engage in at least eight high-speed pursuits of geese. The observed predatory behaviors of polar bears do not support predictions made by energy-optimizing foraging models and suggest that polar bears may frequently engage in energy inefficient pursuits of terrestrial prey. Further study of the nutritional needs and foraging behaviors of polar bears during the ice-free period is warranted, given that polar bears are predicted to spend more time on land as climate change advances. © 2013 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.


News Article | March 21, 2016
Site: www.techtimes.com

The American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) opens a new exhibit entitled "Dinosaurs Among Us," which intricately explores the link between birds and dinosaurs. Birds are everywhere and in today's world, the species generally look harmless and can even pass as pets. The truth is, even the sweetest lovebirds have in its system the genes of ferocious and humongous theropod dinosaurs such as Tyrannosaurus rex. While it might sound creepy, it is actually a good thing, knowing that the world today is still somewhat connected to the dinosaur age through birds - dinosaurs' only living heirs. The exhibit aims to redirect people's thinking of birds by presenting the ancient family tree of the species, while giving a fresh and more accurate view of dinosaurs. The link between birds and dinosaurs have long been recognized by scientists. In fact, this idea has been around since the mid-19th century. Modern paleontologists have also collected subtle evidences that support this claim. Among the supportive information that solidifies bird and dinosaur link are nesting behaviors, toothless beaks, the similar structures of the brain and bones and even feathers, which are said to have evolved from coarse spikes. The exhibit, which will open Monday, March 21, will feature a Yutyrannus huali, which is a tyrannosaurus that was found in China in 2012. The 23-feet long dinosaur has proto-feathers that resembles quill. The physical appearance is quite terrifying as it looks like a cross between an anteater and a roadrunner. The exhibit also includes an interactive booth that allows guests to make and fly their own dinosaur creations. This experience entails dinosaur puzzle pieces of different weight, wingspan and body parts, which the visitors may insert into a dinosaur illustration. The Elusive Link Between Birds And Dinosaurs In Modern Times With popular movies such as the "Jurassic Park," today's generation are given the idea that dinosaurs and birds do have a connection, yet the former is being portrayed as featherless. AMNH paleontologist Mark Norell says it may be because the characters may not look mean enough if presented like they are pigeons. No matter how scarcely depicted the link between birds and dinosaurs are, people should be aware that, one thing is certain, birds are the modern dinosaurs. "Dinosaurs never really vanished from Earth," AMNH writes. In fact, majority did not go extinct and is now living among us in the form of birds.

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