Blogs & Videos: Sciences

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.

Through thick and thin! Stabilizing the Plaster on Minirdis’ Coffin

After cleaning, the first part of Minirdis’ burial equipment that we treated was his coffin.  The coffin was constructed of wood panels joined with wood dowels. A layer of an orange colored plaster like material had been applied over the wood to fill gaps between the wood panels and provide a smooth surface. On top of the plaster layer, the coffin had been painted black with red and yellow decoration.

Birds get malaria, too

Just like people, birds have the misfortune of being visited by a variety of blood-sucking insects, insects that can transmit all manner of parasites through their bites. Some of those parasites, including ones related to human malaria, come in the form of haemosporidia--single-celled protozoans that take up residence in their host's bloodstream. Using modern lab techniques, scientists are now able to discover the diversity of these parasites living in the bloodstream of wild birds by isolating their DNA from the blood of infected birds.

How to Uncoffin a Mummy

Removing the lid of the coffin was just the start. Now there was the problem of removing the damaged mummy from the lower half of the coffin. With the lid off we found that the right side piece, which had been held in place by the lid, was detached from the bottom of the coffin and could easily be removed. This meant that the mummy could be slid out, instead of trying to pick it up – good news because the assembly was very fragile. Even so, this was no small task, and it took four people to safely move him out of the coffin.

Fishes in Guatemala - Last Update from the field

FMNH Fishes recently returned from our collecting expedition to Guatemala.  Here are a few final photos from the trip.  We will update again soon as we unpack our specimens and work to incorporate them into the Fish Collection at The Field Museum! susancaleb_tissue.jpg Susan and Caleb work on taking tissue samples from specimens after collecting at a site.

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