Blogs & Videos

Every day at The Field Museum we're exploring something new, whether it's hidden deep in our collections or being investigated out in the field. Tune in to our blogs and videos to learn about breakthrough discoveries firsthand from our Field Museum scientists, or discover what curiosity Emily Graslie has stumbled upon in our vaults, or see how our science is making an impact in the world around you.

The Brain Scoop

Check out what our Chief Curiosity Correspondent, Emily Graslie, has explored on The Brain Scoop!

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The Field Revealed

Explore the treasures of The Field Museum's collections with The Field Revealed video series.

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Science Newsflash

Science Newsflash brings you the most current scientific news stories from The Field Museum. 

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Recent Blog Posts

North Carolina Zoo polar bear habitat with fake rocks and painted lichens

Attention to lichen detail in the polar bear habitat

One of the best zoos Collections Manager Robert Lücking has ever visited is the North Carolina Zoo, with its vast area allowing much space for its animals. Also, the attention to detail is quite amazing. Many dioramas include rock features made out of various materials including concrete, specifically designed to meet the animals' needs. What is astonishing, however, that the designers and builders even took care to mimic lichens growing on these fake rocks, and even on close-up these look so real that one has to make sure they are not just paint.

Model of the Canopy Operation Access System using lichens as tree canopies

Lichens helped to establish canopy research system in French Guiana

Back in the days, our fungi and lichens Collections Manager Robert Lücking was involved in a project to design and establish a canopy access system in French Guiana for the study of the functional biodiversity of tropical rain forest canopies. The system was named COPAS: Canopy Operation Access System. To obtain initial funding for the project, Robert spent countless hours to built the model depicted here, including trees with a canopy formed by reindeer lichens.

Model train diorama photographed in Germany

Lichens and model trains

Lichens of the genus Cladina (the reindeer lichens) are commonly used as ornaments, including for dioramas with model trains, where they make bushes and tree crowns. Our fungi and lichens Collections Manager Robert Lücking used to have a model train when he was young and remembers spending many hours building the diorama, setting up small areas of forest and bush using differently colored lichens. He had no idea at that point that he would actually study lichens scientifically when grown up.

Lichen-covered car door on display in the lichen exhibit at the Field Museum

Old, lichen-covered car door displayed like a precious jewel

April is taxidermy and diorama month. At first glance difficult to make a connection to lichens. But only at first glance. Of course the best example of lichen dioramas is our very own lichen exhibit, and especially its center piece: the now famous car door. It nicely shows how an old piece of "junk", specifically the driver door of a classic Ford Bronco, can come to shine in new light. Whereas a lichen-covered car is already a spectacular sight, our exhibit team did a fabulous job in setting up said door in a case illuminated with UV, making it look like a precious jewel.

Using eBird to keep up with recent sightings in your area

There's a great feature in eBird that allows you to see recent checklists from whatever area you'd like, giving birders the ability to keep up with sightings in their area. As migration picks up, this function allows you to learn what's being seen at local hotspots, even if there are no posts to the local listserve or Facebook birding group. I don't think many birders are taking advantage of this function, so here I present an illustrated tutorial on how to access it.

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