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  • New varmits in Farish Hall of Texas Wildlife | BEYONDbones
    are some natural history notes Striped Skunk Mephitis mephitis This is the most common species of skunk in our region Few people realize that there are at least 10 species of skunks distributed throughout the New World In North America there are a couple of species each of the striped Mephitis group and spotted Spilogale group with the hog nosed skunk Conepatus dispersing southward where it radiates into several species in South America Skunks are members of the Carnivoran Family Mustelidae This includes otters badgers weasels and other similar forms Like many medium sized Carnivorans the skunk has a strong musk gland So strong in fact that the skunk has a well known reputation for its scent gland which produces a musky odor This odor is not uncommon when skunks are involved in roadway mortalities They can also voluntarily shoot the scent directly at whatever varmint including a person is bothering them Just like rattlesnakes sounding off their warning before striking a skunk will stamp its feet and flag it s tail before spraying Skunks are omnivorous eating a wide variety of food including cannibalized carrion it s not unusual to find more than one road mortality at a give site since live skunks will forage upon road killed skunks then becoming a victim of vehicle mortality themselves Virginia Opossum Didelphis virginiana Of the more than 300 species of Marsupials extant today 230 are found Australia and surrounding islands and 85 are endemic to the New World Of these only one occurs in the United States and Canada the Virginia Opossum or simply Possum as it s known in this region Like all marsupials the young are not as fully developed as other mammals when born They claw their way to the mother s pouch where they develop for a couple of months As the young get older they will ride on the mother s back and there can be several young per litter photo credit graftedno1 To ward off predators they can open their mouth very wide and display their vast array of teeth 50 teeth in all They may hiss and make noise as well but the famous saying playing possum comes from this marsupial s ability to feign death by going limp Possums are omnivorous eating a wide variety of food and it s not unusual to find them rummaging through a garbage can Their sense of smell is well developed to compensate their poor eyesight Although their tail is prehensile it s not strong enough to support their weight such as a New World monkey s prehensile tail for example They do use the tail for balance however Range across seven biomes to explore the entire continent of Africa in the Farish Hall of Texas Wildlife a permanent exhibition at the Houston Museum of Natural Science 0 0 0 This entry was posted in Zoology and tagged attwater s prarie chicken conepatus didelphis virginiana HMNS hog nosed skunk marsupials mephitis mephitis mephitis mustelidae opossum playing possum

    Original URL path: http://blog.hmns.org/2009/12/new-varmits-in-farish-hall-of-texas-wildlife/ (2016-02-12)
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  • 100 Years – 100 Objects: Atlas Moth | BEYONDbones
    artifacts one for each year of our history Check back here frequently to learn more about this diverse selection of behind the scenes curiosities we will post the image and description of a new object every few days This description is from Nancy the museum s director of the Cockrell Butterfly Center and curator of entomology She s chosen a selection of objects that represent the rarest and most interesting insects in the Museum s collections that we ll be sharing here and at 100 hmns org throughout the year Atlas moths are the world s largest lepidopteran Lepidoptera is the insect order that includes butterflies and moths and indeed are one of the world s largest insects Members of the Saturniidae the giant silk moth family these impressive moths are closely related to our North American cecropia moth The Atlas moth s wings are subtly but beautifully colored in tans and maroon with four transparent patches one in each wing The elongated tips of the forewing seem to resemble the head of a snake complete with an eye Like all saturniids Atlas moths have feathery antennae the male s much larger and bushier than the female s the better to smell you with my dear The specimen pictured here is a female Learn more about moths and their relatives in a visit to the new Brown Hall of Entomology a part of the Cockrell Butterfly Center a living walk through rainforest at the Houston Museum of Natural Science You can see more images of this fascinating artifact as well as the others we ve posted so far this year in the 100 Objects section at 100 hmns org 2 0 0 This entry was posted in Plants Insects and tagged 100 years 100 objects atlas moths butterflies cecropia moth

    Original URL path: http://blog.hmns.org/2009/12/100-years-100-objects-atlas-moth/ (2016-02-12)
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  • Texas Redbeds – Another 100 Year Anniversary to Celebrate! | BEYONDbones
    past several years the HMNS paleo team has been uncovering even more dazzling fossils at this historic site more than anyone had ever dreamed With awls brushes dental picks and steady hands we ve removed about one third of this historic hillside layer by layer discovering bones at nearly every level Members of the HMNS paleo team at the Craddock Bone Bed Sternberg and his sons came here to get a big skeleton for the Smithsonian We too will soon have a big beautiful Dimetrodon skeleton for the HMNS But we ll have so much more Unlike the paleontologists who worked here one hundred years ago we are carefully photographing and mapping the bones in place at every deposition level before we even begin to excavate them and jacket them for transport to the museum The data we record and extract will help us understand this fascinating Permian ecosystem and the changes that occurred here over many seasons of drought and plenty So we celebrate one hundred years of fossil hunting history The HMNS paleo team is thrilled to be part of that history thanks to the generosity of ranch owners Bill and Judith Whitley descendants of the Craddocks who first welcomed Dr Williston and Charles H Sternberg As we follow in the footsteps of these great explorers the red and gray sandstones and mudstones under our feet are silent But we know that like books still waiting to be opened those rocks are full of exciting stories about the Dimetrodon the poison spined sharks the boomerang headed amphibians and all the strange creatures that lived and died here over 280 million years ago One hundred years from now paleontologists will still be hunting fossils and unlocking more mysteries on this extraordinary north Texas ranch 1 0 0 This entry

    Original URL path: http://blog.hmns.org/2009/12/texas-redbeds-another-100-year-anniversary-to-celebrate/ (2016-02-12)
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  • 100 Years – 100 Objects: Diplodocus Brain Case | BEYONDbones
    org throughout the year This curious item is the rear portion of the braincase from the Museum s Diplodocus This portion of the skull was recovered in the original 1902 excavation in Wyoming The skeleton was studied in 1924 and the information derived from this bone and others indicated enough difference from other species of Diplodocus for classification as a separate subspecies Diplodocus hayi making it the holotype specimen and only mounted example of this subspecies in the world The braincase is not mounted with the rest of the skeleton The skull mounted on our skeleton is from the sub species Diplodocus carnegii With the expansion and redesign of the Museum s paleontology hall the unique braincase will join a remounted Diplodocus on display Originally collected by Carl Utterback for the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburg the dinosaur was overshadowed by the Carnegie s existing mount of a related subspecies Diplodocus carnegii Named for the museum s principal benefactor wealthy industrialist Andrew Carnegie the specimen became the institution s principal attraction with casts being given as gifts to museums around the world Mostly forgotten and relegated to storage at the Carnegie Museum the dinosaur was acquired by Houston in 1962 with support from the Junior League of Houston It became Houston s first dinosaur citizen and was unveiled at HMNS in 1975 Learn more about the ankylosaur check out David s post Ankylosaur at HMNS A 40 year mystery solved Or wander among prehistoric beasts in the Paleontology Hall a permanent exhibition at the Houston Museum of Natural Science You can see more images of this fascinating artifact as well as the others we ve posted so far this year in the 100 Objects section at 100 hmns org 0 0 0 This entry was posted in Paleontology and tagged 100

    Original URL path: http://blog.hmns.org/2009/12/100-years-100-objects-diplodocus-brain-case/ (2016-02-12)
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  • 100 Years – 100 Objects: Silver with Calcite | BEYONDbones
    of a new object every few days This description is from Joel the Museum s President and Curator of Gems and Minerals He s chosen spectacular objects from the Museum s mineralogy collection which includes some of the most rare and fascinating mineral specimens in the world that we ll be sharing here and at 100 hmns org throughout the year Silver with calcite Kongsberg Norway Any great specimen of native wire silver is a rarity The 13 2 cm specimen pictured here is particularly desirable because of the calcite crystals entangled in the wires and especially because of the large and lustrous crystal of black sphalerite clinging to the uppermost wires Marvel at the world s most spectacular collection of natural mineral crystals in the Cullen Hall of Gems and Minerals at the Houston Museum of Natural Science You can see more images of this fascinating artifact as well as the others we ve posted so far this year in the 100 Objects section at 100 hmns org 0 0 0 This entry was posted in Gems Minerals and tagged 100 objects 100 years calcite gems gems and minerals HMNS minerals preserving artifacts preserving objects silver silver with calcite

    Original URL path: http://blog.hmns.org/2009/12/100-years-100-objects-silver-with-calcite/ (2016-02-12)
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  • 100 Years – 100 Objects: Cypraea cervus | BEYONDbones
    description is from Tina the museum s associate curator of malacology She has chosen a selection of objects that represent the most fascinating shells and animals in the Museum s collections that we ll be sharing here and at 100 hmns org throughout the year Cypraea cervus Linne 1771 Cowries are among the most numerous of the molluscan Families This species of Cypraea can be found from off North Carolina to Florida Cuba and Brazil But it is also rarely found off the Texas coast in an area known as The Flower Garden Banks These glossy shells are not found on Texas beaches because the distance to shore is too great to allow the shells to wash in so far But divers and researchers have documented and collected a few specimens This is one of the specimens that HMNS has in its collection Learn more Dive into the Malacology Hall a permanent exhibition at the Houston Museum of Natural Science You can see more images of this fascinating artifact as well as the others we ve posted so far this year in the 100 Objects section at 100 hmns org 0 0 0 This entry was posted in Zoology and

    Original URL path: http://blog.hmns.org/2009/12/100-years-100-objects-cypraea-cervus/ (2016-02-12)
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  • HMNS in TV Land – This Sunday! | BEYONDbones
    think we can all agree dinosaurs are awesome And this special uses cinematic photo real 3D graphics that take you inside nature s perfect predator It looks pretty amazing check out a quick preview below and don t miss the first two parts of the series this Sunday night Chainsaw Ice Sculptors on TLC Sunday 10 p m E P Back in August Reverend Butter created 12 life size terra cotta warriors plus horses carriage and emperor entirely out of ice for our VIP party Ice warriors It was AMAZING And did we mention TLC cameras were there capturing the whole process And you can check it out this Sunday night when TLC s Chainsaw Ice Sculptors airs TLC has posted a preview of all their holiday specials here Chainsaw Ice Sculptors is just one but you can see a few clips in the video before Sunday Don t miss it 0 0 0 This entry was posted in Science by Erin B Bookmark the permalink About Erin B Erin is the Director of Business Development at HMNS In a past life she was a public relations and online marketing dynamo at HMNS View all posts by Erin B 2

    Original URL path: http://blog.hmns.org/2009/12/hmns-in-tv-land-this-sunday/ (2016-02-12)
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  • Go Stargazing! December Edition | BEYONDbones
    she is directly across the North Star from the Dipper Since the Dipper is low and out of sight at dusk this month Cassiopeia rides high in the sky Dazzling Orion rises in the east reminding us that winter is on the way His belt points up to Aldebaran the eye of Taurus the Bull The Dog Stars Sirius and Procyon rise in the early evening they rise earlier and earlier as the month goes on and will appear in the sky below Orion in the east Sirius is the brightest star we ever see at night Moon Phases in December 2009 Full moon Dec 2 1 31 a m Dec 31 1 13 p m Last quarter Dec 8 6 15 p m New moon Dec 16 6 02 a m 1st quarter Dec 24 11 35 a m The new moon of Dec 16 happens to mark the Islamic New Year 1 Muharram 1431 A H actually begins a few days later when the crescent moon is first seen just after sunset At 11 47 a m on Monday Dec 21 the Earth s North Pole is tilted away from the sun as much as possible making the sun as low in our sky as possible This is the winter solstice with less daylight for us than any other day of the year Although December 21 is the shortest day it does not have the earliest sunset At Houston s latitude that occurred yesterday December 2 photo credit Shutr Earth is now about a month away from its closest approach to the sun perihelion As it comes slightly closer to the sun it speeds up a little This causes sunrise local noon and sunset to happen a little later each day The noon sun won t get much

    Original URL path: http://blog.hmns.org/2009/12/go-stargazing-december-edition-2/ (2016-02-12)
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