Blogs & Videos: Collections

A spiral shell-like fossil next to apples and oranges

A Thanksgiving Tale of Two Horns

Paul Mayer is a collections manager of fossil invertebrates. What do Thanksgiving and a fossil ammonite have in common?  In ancient times, the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans associated the coiled horns of rams with gods, power, virility, fertility, and abundance. The cornucopia—a conical wicker basket with a never-ending supply of food flowing from it—comes from Latin cornu copiae or “horn of plenty.” The Greeks and Romans both used the cornucopia as a symbol of the harvest, prosperity, and abundance.

Aerial view of dense green treetops

A big step in the 300-year quest to find every tree species in the Amazon

How many different kinds of trees grow in the Amazon? This may sound like an impossible question to answer—we’re talking about the most biodiverse rainforest on Earth. Hundreds of thousands of different plants and animals live there, with more being discovered every year.

Zoomed in photo of a fly-like insect trapped in orange amber

Revisiting “Jurassic Park”: Could dinosaurs really be cloned?

“Where do you get 100-million-year-old dinosaur blood?” asks Dr. Ellie Sattler, a character in the original “Jurassic Park” movie. In the film, dinosaurs are cloned from DNA preserved in amber. More specifically, from dinosaur blood inside mosquitoes that are trapped in the amber. Spoiler alert: things get a little out of hand as the cloned dinos wreak havoc on Isla Nublar.

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.  

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.

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