Evolutionary Biology

Two sculptures, created by French paleoartist Elisabeth Daynès, give a breathtakingly lifelike look at human relatives—Homo ergaster and Homo neanderthalensis.

Bringing Neanderthals to Life: The Sculptures of Elisabeth Daynès

There’s a lot to see in The Field Museum’s Evolving Planet exhibition—a rock bearing traces of life from a billion years ago, a seventy-two-foot-long Apatosaurus, a towering prehistoric giant sloth. But two new displays in the section on human evolution have been literally stopping visitors in their tracks. Two new sculptures, created by French paleoartist Elisabeth Daynès, give a breathtakingly lifelike look at human relatives—Homo ergaster and Homo neanderthalensis.

Things seen in the Bird Division #11: 'Til death do us part

Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis). Photo © Jeff Skrentny. Sibling birds-of-prey often play-fight with their talons. It's practice for hunting, fighting, and passing prey to a mate. But the Red-tailed Hawks in the photos below are adults. They probably got their talons locked together in a territorial battle. Apparently they were unable to unlock them, causing both birds to perish. Maybe they should have played more as youngsters. "To the victor go the spoils," the saying goes. Unless there is no victor. 

“Fire Frogs” and Eel-like Amphibians: Meet The Field’s Newest Fossil Discoveries

Two hundred and seventy-eight million years ago, the world was a different place. Not only were the landmasses merged into the supercontinent of Pangaea, but the land was home to ancient animals unlike anything alive today. But until now, very little information was available about what animals were present in the southern tropics.

Tea Parties, Bird Barf, and Rat Skulls

At tea parties, etiquette is key. You need to know which spoon to use, whether to pour the milk or the tea first, and, when a fellow scientist hands you an owl pellet for your research, how to graciously accept it and dissect it right there at the table. Field Museum collections manager Bill Stanley was at a garden tea party in Tanzania when a colleague handed him a coffee can containing an owl pellet for him to study. The hacked-up mass of fur and bones contained the key to a scientific discovery—the skull of a rat never before seen in the region.

“Scarface”: The Dachshund-sized Pre-mammal with a (Possibly) Venomous Bite

Two hundred and fifty-two million years ago, huge volcanic eruptions triggered a mass extinction bigger than the one that ended the dinosaurs, changing life on earth forever. Field Museum scientist Ken Angielczyk and his colleagues are now studying this event, the Permian-Triassic Extinction, to learn about how communities bounce back after falling apart. And one newly discovered ancient mammal relative is helping them get closer to their answers—meet “Scarface.”

Monsters Storm The Field

Invertebrate paleontologists aren’t afraid of anything, so when Collections Manager Paul Mayer was offered a chance to add hundreds of monsters to The Field’s collections, he jumped at the opportunity. The monsters in question, Tully monsters, are just a small part of the enormous donation of Thomas V. Testa’s collection of Mazon Creek fossils that The Field Museum just received from Field Associate Jack Wittry.  

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