Blogs & Videos: Sciences

A tropical wanderer visits the Midwest

Photo © Nathan Goldberg, taken in St. Joseph, Berrien Co., Michigan, on 11 July 2015. I was riding south on the lakefront bike path, like I do most mornings, on my way to the museum. It was a lovely morning, cool, overcast, and with a nice tailwind. I passed the construction fence at Fullerton Avenue and glanced towards the water, as I do frequently during my ride. Then I nearly fell off my bike. A frigatebird was flying over!

Peregrine Falcons Removed from IL Endangered List

Peregrine Falcons have their share of claims to fame—with a diving speed of over 200 miles per hour, they’re the fastest animals in the world, and they’ve adapted from living on rocky cliffs to a different kind of “mountain”: Chicago’s skyscrapers.  But in 1951, there were none left in Illinois, and it looked as if the species would be wiped out of North America entirely. Today, thanks largely to the Chicago Peregrine Program headed by The Field Museum’s Mary Hennen, Peregrines are flourishing to the point that they’re no longer in immediate danger.

New Discoveries in How Animal Moms-to-Be Feed Their Babies

  Pop quiz—what kinds of animal mothers feed their babies before birth? The first (and maybe only) ones to come to mind are probably mammals like us—moms-to-be funnel nutrients from their blood supply right to their developing embryos through an organ called the placenta; the moms literally “eat for two.” That’s a different kind of nourishment than you see in most other animals—the majority lay eggs with a nutritious yolk for the embryo to use as it develops.

Field Museum Intern Hannah Ranft takes a stab at revising New Zealand lichens

Macrolichens in the family Lobariaceae are among the most conspicuous and charismatic lichens on the planet, due to their often large, colorful thalli and their ecological importance and potential uses. Many species have cyanobacterial photobionts and are capable of fixing atmospheric nitrogen, hence acting as biological fertilizers. Lobariaceae are also good indicators of environmental health and the conservation status of forest ecosystems. Species such as Lobaria pulmonaria have been used in homoeopathic medicine.

Sawfish “Virgin Birth” Discovery

“Life, uh, finds a way.” Any Field Museum fan worth their salt probably remembers the scene in Jurassic Park where Jeff Goldblum’s character explains that even though all the dinosaurs in the park are female, they might still find a way to reproduce. But this isn’t science fiction—Field Museum scientists have recently helped discover that smalltooth sawfish, critically endangered shark relatives, sometimes reproduce through “virgin birth.”

Peregrine Removed from Illinois' Endangered List

Illinois officially removed Peregrine Falcons from the state Endangered & Threatened Species List. What does this means for our state population of Peregrine Falcons? First, it is an affirmation of the recovery of the species in Illinois.  This is due in part to the long-term stewardship and dedicated effort of numerous individuals and organizations that have supported and assisted in looking after Illinois’ Peregrines. 

History and birds come together: "Spring Migration Notes" from 1920 and its famous authors

This little booklet has so much history, it's hard to know even where to begin. Let's start with the fact that the first author, James D. Watson, is the father of one of the most famous scientists of the 20th century, also named James D. Watson, who along with Francis Crick is credited with the discovery of the structure of DNA. But that's the least of it. The third author is even more intriguing.

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