The power of museum collections often comes from volume: with a higher sample size, more can be learned with great precision. But sometimes you can learn a great deal from a single specimen, too. Read more about Things seen in the Bird Division #10: Where did the waxwing go?
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. Read more about Tea Parties, Bird Barf, and Rat Skulls
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.” Read more about “Scarface”: The Dachshund-sized Pre-mammal with a (Possibly) Venomous Bite