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  • Creepy Critter Cameo – Caecilian | BEYONDbones
    invertebrates including termites and earthworms After an 11 month gestation period they give live birth most amphibians lay eggs to between four and eleven young When presenting this amphibian to students we discuss how is it different from other vermiform animals such as worms and snakes The kids usually determine that it has a backbone worms are invertebrates and that it is slimy not scaly reptiles have scales and are not slimy Our caecilian is a very shy quiet animal that also happens to enjoy attempting great escapes I think it s a rather cute amphibian Our Mexican Burrowing Caecilian There are over 150 species of caecilians ranging along the tropics from South America to Africa They may be a dull grey or brown or even brightly colored purple pink orange or yellow Most lack tails and all have tentacles a specialized chemosensory organ near their nose that helps them to locate prey Many caecilians are nearly sightless some without any eyes at all They may be aquatic terrestrial or fossorial like our Mexican Burrowing Caecilian Depending on where they live caecilians may be oviparous egg layers or viviparous live bearers Warning Here comes the creepy flesh eating part of our story In the womb the developing caecilian embryos have specialized fetal teeth that allows them to stimulate secretions from the oviducts of their mother providing the young with nourishment In another species Boulengerula taitanus an oviparous caecilian from Southeastern Kenya the newborns also have specialized teeth to eat the skin off the back of their mother The skin is regenerated every 3 days for the young providing a nutritious meal Research has also found that a female may take care of young that aren t biologically hers a term called alloparenting However this is a costly to the nursing

    Original URL path: http://blog.hmns.org/2008/10/creepy-critter-cameo-caecilian/ (2016-02-12)
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  • A Trick or a Treat? | BEYONDbones
    Sun and the Sun is overhead at 23 5 degrees North the Tropic of Cancer This is the summer solstice for us and the winter solstice in the Southern Hemisphere At the September equinox once again neither pole tilts toward the Sun and the Sun is again overhead at the equator This is our fall equinox and their spring equinox At the December solstice the North Pole is tilted as much as possible away from the Sun and the Sun is overhead at 23 5 degrees South the Tropic of Capricorn This is the winter solstice for us and the summer solstice below the equator We generally think of these points as the beginning of spring summer fall and winter but it doesn t have to be that way After all nothing magically happens with our weather on these dates We could just as well consider these points the midpoints of each season In that case the seasons would begin and end at points roughly halfway between the equinoxes and solstices in early February May August and November If the equinoxes and solstices are quarter days the points halfway between them become the cross quarter days The ancient Celts of Europe appear to have divided their year in precisely that way Gauls living in what is now France used a calendar of twelve lunar months with a 13th month added every 2 5 years similar to the Hebrew calendar today Their two most significant months were Gamonios lunar month corresponding to April May which began the summer half of the year and Samonios lunar month corresponding to October November which began the winter half of the year Julius Caesar noted that daytime followed nighttime in Celtic days By extension the dark winter half of the Celtic year preceded the light summer half making Samonios the start of their new year The Celts in the British Isles Irish and Scots also had festivals aligned with the cross quarter days In early February was Imbolc or St Brigid s day Weather predicting traditions of this day are preserved in our current Groundhog Day Traditional May Day celebrations are similar to those of the Celtic Beltane Lughnasadh in early August marked the start of the harvest photo credit jdl deleon The most important though was Samhain pronounced sah win not Sam Hane due to rules of Gaelic spelling in early November This three day festival marked the beginning of the winter half of the year and the start of the whole year like Gaulish Samonios It was the close of the harvest opened at Lughnasagh and the time for culling excess livestock At this time the veil between the living and the world of the dead was considered thinner than usual and people looked forward to meeting and communing with ancestors and relatives who had died A dumb supper was set aside for departed relatives To scare away unwanted spirits people dressed in frightening garb Note that these spirits were considered unpredictable and

    Original URL path: http://blog.hmns.org/2008/10/a-trick-or-a-treat/ (2016-02-12)
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  • Exploring Sri Lanka | BEYONDbones
    these parks Flying foxes giant fruit bats were everywhere hanging chittering in the trees by day flying off en masse in the evenings They were spectacular Sadly we noticed many caught electrocuted in electrical lines especially near roost areas I learned that tea coconuts rubber fish coffee and spices are all major export crops in Sri Lanka We had a chance to spend a couple of days in the refreshingly cool tea growing area in the central mountainous area The plantations themselves hills covered with carefully pruned tea bushes coral bean Erythrina or other trees providing some shade looked and felt very much like the coffee growing areas of Costa Rica s central plateau However t he brightly dressed Tamil workers reminded me that this was the East and not the West Tamil women I also learned that Sri Lanka has a relatively high standard of living the highest of any Asian country according to WIkipedia and a literacy rate of over 90 among the highest in the developing nations The country is predominantly Buddhist but Hindus Muslims and Christians are also represented and all appear to co exist quite peacefully the Tamil Tiger rebels are Hindu but their rebellion is based on ethnic and economic problems not religion The people we met were friendly and I didn t notice any who were desperately poor Most people spoke at least a few words of English and there was a lot of interest in our upcoming election I loved the clothes most women wore colorful saris in all colors of the rainbow I saw only a few women and only in the cities wearing pants Men had a wider range of possibilities some wore pants others shorts and many wore long or short sarongs Sandals and flipflops were the footwear of choice for both sexes Muslim men often wore caps on their heads and the women covered their hair with a scarf Sri Lankan breakfast fare The food was good although I did crave a bowl of cold cereal or a simple peanut butter sandwich more than once Rice and curry is eaten breakfast lunch and dinner Sri Lankans traditionally eat with their hands the right hand only is used That took a little getting used to since I have been discouraged from putting my hands in my food since I was about two years old and this was not discrete finger food but rice and helpings of often soupy curried vegetables or meat or lentils etc But we managed and sometimes broke down and ate with a fork Tsunami monument at former tourist lodging Our time was short and there were things we didn t get to do we missed seeing the traditional dancers in Kandy for instance And I would have loved to check out some of the beaches which were fabulously beautiful with clear blue water and pinkish sand Colorfully painted wooden fishing boats and endless skeins of fishing nets were strewn over some of them others were

    Original URL path: http://blog.hmns.org/2008/10/exploring-sri-lanka/ (2016-02-12)
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  • Are You Making a Connection? | BEYONDbones
    skull It s just cool Yeah I can google an image of a giraffe s skull on any computer but it ll never delight me the way that Hi Lo s does Ok a connection s been made Where will it take you Does it inspire enough to pursue further knowledge or is the experience of the connection enough in itself As a child the late great Stephen Jay Gould so loved the dinosaur skeletons at the American Museum of Natural History that he became a renowned paleontologist Me I enjoy looking at the giraffe s skull over and over again but am content to remain a registrar And here s some more musings regarding our connections with objects Why do we take photos of our favorite things in museums Why do we take photos of ourselves with them Why do we buy replicas of them in the museum gift shop photo credit Zepfanman com Whew lots of questions in this blog Now it s your turn let s make this a discussion Which objects do you think best represent the museum are there iconic objects that connect with every visitor Communicate with us tell us what your favorite HMNS artifacts and specimens are and why Because if I could the last question I d ask when you go out the museum s doors would be Did you make a connection Donna Meadows Associate Registrar Acquisitions 0 0 0 This entry was posted in Science and tagged American Museum of Natural Science amethyst artifact dan brooks fossils geodes giraffes HMNS houston zoo native american native american art shells specimen Stephen Gould taxidermy vertebrate wildlife Zoology by Donna Bookmark the permalink About Donna Despite many childhood visits to HMNS Donna was clueless that she would have a career here as a registrar instead of as a world famous ballerina She has worked so long in the Collections Department that it must be more than a quirky passing phase When not processing new acquisitions into the permanent collections peppering the curators with questions or making people put on gloves Donna can be found in a dance class a bell tower at a dance performance or reading a book View all posts by Donna 6 thoughts on Are You Making a Connection Linda Harmes on October 23 2008 at 5 21 pm said I can t say I have a particular favorite I always like to be surprised by something new I love the shells because I started collecting them as a child and never tire of going through my various containers of shells when I come across them I am usually most drawn to the anthropological exhibits I am fascinated by the various tools textiles and art work I like to think about how the first person came to figure out how to turn some plant into fabric I have especially enjoyed the exhibits on Ben Franklin and Lucy Thanks for bringing us so many ways to connect with the natural sciences

    Original URL path: http://blog.hmns.org/2008/10/are-you-making-a-connection/ (2016-02-12)
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  • Crickets: Trick or Treat? Let your little one find out at Tricks, Treats, & T-Rex! | BEYONDbones
    good old fashioned food coming from your oven Have you ever thought of adding a little cricket to your crock pot or putting some grasshopper in your gazpacho photo credit fdecomite Throughout human history bugs have been a traditional source of protein Did you know that hamburger is roughly 18 protein and 18 fat Cooked grasshopper is 60 protein and only 6 fat Shrimp and lobster are also considered arthropods other creatures that share that phylum Try insects and spiders Yummy Taste for yourself or better yet let your kid do it for you This Saturday from 10am 2pm HMNS is serving up bugs for food at Tricks Treats T rex try our Cajun Crispy Crickets or Chirpy Chip Cookies mmmmmmmmmm Mmmm We wouldn t leave you hanging on all of the other fun stuff happening here you also get to see Mad Scientists perform crazy chemistry demonstrations you get to touch real brains and eyeballs and best yet your ticket includes a show to a world renowned illusionist Steve Wallach It s a heck of a deal for 5 nonmembers or 4 members When you purchase your tickets you also get the opportunity of purchasing tickets to Dinosaur Mummy

    Original URL path: http://blog.hmns.org/2008/10/crickets-trick-or-treat-let-your-little-one-find-out-at-tricks-treats-t-rex/ (2016-02-12)
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  • A Tale of Two Rulers | BEYONDbones
    Turkmenistan Iran Afghanistan and Tajikistan In 1226 during a campaign against the Xi Xia in northern China Genghis Khan fell from his horse He died from his injuries in 1227 and was buried in a secret location Numerous scientific expeditions have been mounted to try to locate his tomb Currently yet another attempt is being mounted to find Genghis Khan s last resting place The Mongol Empire continued after Genghis passing and his descendants continued to expand it By the late 13th century it reached from Hungary to the Sea of Japan By that stage the empire was divided into four nearly autonomous areas called khanates China central Asia Persia and Russia In 1294 after the death of Kublai Khan the empire broke apart There was a brief resurgence in the late 14th century when Timur the Lame who claimed to be descended from Genghis Khan conquered Persia Iraq Syria Afghanistan and parts of Russia On the way to attack China however Timur died and the Mongol era was finished Pre dating Genghis Khan by fourteen centuries an individual by the name of Qin Shi Huang rose to prominence in what is now China In 246 BC when he appeared in the scene China was going through what historians call its Warring States period In about twenty years Qin Shi Huang managed to unify the country under one ruler Qin Shi Huang became China s First Emperor The old feudal system was replaced with a central government China s writing and currency was standardized Commerce benefited from a vast new network of roads and canals Last but not least gigantic construction works got started during this emperor s reign among them the Great Wall which would be extended many times in later years and the Emperor s mausoleum photo credit

    Original URL path: http://blog.hmns.org/2008/10/a-tale-of-two-rulers/ (2016-02-12)
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  • Do you mind passing the hand sanitizer? I think I’m coming down with a touch of the plague. | BEYONDbones
    until there was no blood left purging by laxative better to die of dehydration right and various herbal treatments In the stead of drugstores the Medieval town might have had a local apothecary Check out some of the herbs that were used mostly in vain to treat the plague Thyme a natural disinfectant used in the nosegays carried by doctors in an attempt to ward off the plague Rosemary burned like incense it was thought to ward off sickness of all types It was hung around the neck to protect from the plague It was also thought a twig of rosemary could ward off the evil eye photo credit tanakawho Sage among the most important medicinal herbs of Medieval Europe No covenant garden would be without a substantial patch of sage growing to treat the ailing masses Angelica according to legend the Archangel Gabriel revealed the powers of this Nordic herb to the Benedictine monks During the Middle Ages it was commonly cultivated in monasteries and used to treat symptoms of the plague Lavender thieves who made a living stealing from the dead and infirm used lavender as an ingredient in their Four Thieves Vinegar a concoction they used to protect and cleanse themselves after a hard night s work During the plague in the seventeenth century you might have even scored a visit from this guy pictured below 17th century plague doctor And if that wasn t enough to scare you to death wait three days and the plague might get you anyway As the poet Boccaccio said one could eat lunch with friends and have dinner with ancestors in paradise 0 0 0 This entry was posted in Education and tagged 1348 aching limbs angelica apothecary black death bleeding by leech coughing curriculum disease doctor exxon mobil teacher tuesday flu shot gabriel herbal treatments for plague HMNS information about black death information about the plague lavender laxatives leeches lymph nodes medieval medieval remedies Middle Ages plague plague doctor plague symptoms plague victim purging rosemary sage spread of disease symptoms theraflu thyme vaccination vomiting blood by Kat Bookmark the permalink About Kat Kat has been both the spokesperson for the CSI The Experience exhibit and project manager for the Imperial Rome exhibit and has a love of all things historical and cultural She is responsible for the Xplorations summer camp program coordinating weekday labs during the school year writing department curriculum and presenting at teacher trainings Kat has worked at the Museum since 1996 View all posts by Kat 5 thoughts on Do you mind passing the hand sanitizer I think I m coming down with a touch of the plague Nicole on October 21 2008 at 5 44 pm said I love this part of history There are all sorts of interesting side stories Do you know about the Yellow Fever epideimic in America David on October 21 2008 at 6 53 pm said You stated some of the herbs that were used mostly in vain Knowing the

    Original URL path: http://blog.hmns.org/2008/10/do-you-mind-passing-the-hand-sanitizer-i-think-im-coming-down-with-a-touch-of-the-plague/ (2016-02-12)
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  • I Sold My Soul to Science | BEYONDbones
    in this case had been mummified for about a year before giving him to the beetles A smaller fresher frog only took about two weeks I love baking cupcakes Believe me there was talk of an intervention Dave loves to cook The kitchen is the central area in our house as it is for most people We often have a variety of projects beside baking or cooking though In our kitchen we have a hutch where we keep cook books Cook books are safe and normal I am sure you would agree Dave collects cookbooks of various cultures and time periods and cuisines We have a room in the house that started off as the study office but it wasn t widely used as most of the activities in this room ended up in the kitchen anyway SO I claimed it as my sewing room Quilting often keeps me from killing my family It is a great creative outlet and I am surrounded by inspiration Our back yard is often neglected but we do seem to have an abundance of Aloe Vera for some reason Occasionally we water them and call it gardening Directly next to the Aloe is my bucket o bones If you have read my previous posts on the Museum s blog you will be happy to note that the bones have made it inside and are being sorted Plus there is the bullfrog rescue operation Dave has started The second question I am always asked is What is it like to work at the Museum The Museum is a cruel mistress You work long hours on weird projects often on the weekends and you love every minute of it The Museum is home Your house is where you keep your stuff when not at home Here are a few shots of my office so you can envision the crazy Note the Tapir skeleton in the background The third question I am asked is You must learn a lot working at a Museum right You would think so but yet I seem to be filled with only useless information I think that I might have a shot on Jeopardy So what have I learned working here I know that the Rock Hyrax s closest relative is the elephant That Thomas Jefferson fully believed that Lewis and Clark would find a live mammoth when they mapped the west That the cone snail is one of the most deadly animals in the world but is also used for pain medication That it is better to have a hippo head than no hippo at all That the First Lady can t walk under swordfish That the admin elevator is the exact right size for a tapir That the giant squid has the largest eyeball of any animal And that it isn t unusual to find your place of work altered on a daily basis But most importantly I have learned that without the support of the Museum volunteers our patrons

    Original URL path: http://blog.hmns.org/2008/10/i-sold-my-soul-to-science/ (2016-02-12)
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