Blogs & Videos: The Brain Scoop

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

The Origin of Mammal Movement: Harvard Adventures, Part I

Paleontologists today look at more than just fossil evidence to learn about organisms that lived millions of years ago. In this case, we're seeking to answer the question: how, and when, did mammals evolve their specialized movements? Turns out, the next step in this process involves dissecting a giant weasel.  This is part one in a three-part series supported in part by The Field Museum, the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University, and The National Science Foundation (!!!!). 

Clearing and Staining Fishes

Diaphonization -- otherwise known as clearing and staining -- is one of the most photogenic preparation methods used by research scientists. It's beautiful, but is it practical? We interviewed Dr. Caleb McMahan, Collection Manager of Fishes, on how he uses this technique to answer questions about the evolution of fish! Big thanks to Caleb for taking the time to share his work with us, and to Alan Resetar for lending the reptile and amphibian specimens!... as well as the extra light table because ours broke right before filming. :( 

Spiders: The First Web Developers

Out of any creatures in the animal kingdom, spiders seem to have the worst reputation. Their many legs and unpredictable movements elicit a fear response in even the most stoic of individuals. Let's take a moment to put our fear aside and learn more about these global dominators with Dr. Petra Sierwald! Dr. Sierwald is an arachnologist specializing in spiders, scorpions, and millipedes. Check out her profile on The Field Museum's website to learn more about her research: 

Millipedes: The First Land Animals

More than 420 million years ago ancient millipedes took their first many -- many many many -- steps onto land. Today they remain largely cryptic animals, as there are tens of thousands of species still unknown to science. Associate Curator Dr. Petra Sierwald, arachnologist and millipede expert, is working to create a visual atlas to help with our understanding and identification of these mysterious creatures! If you find a millipede and would like to have it identified, send us an image! thebrainscoop(at)gmail(dot)com

The First Brachiosaurus

Joyce Havstad, PhD holds the title Philosopher-in-Residence at The Field Museum.* We had the joy of interviewing her about some of the fascinating concepts she researches and explores -- in this case, what is a holotype? And how can paleontologists determine new species of prehistoric life based off of incomplete fossil skeletons?

*It's probably the only job title that can compete with 'Chief Curiosity Correspondent', really. 

The Chicago Peregrine Program

By the 1960s the peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus) was extinct in many states - including Illinois - because of the negative effects of the pesticide DDT. But, thanks to dedicated reintroduction and monitoring efforts over the last 30 years in part from Field Museum scientist Mary Hennen and The Chicago Peregrine Program, just recently these birds were removed from the Illinois threatened species list!