Blogs & Videos: Mammals

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.

Mystery Callicebus from Peru

Possible New Primate Discovered in Peru

Last year I spent three weeks with an incredible team of scientists exploring the Tapiche-Blanco watersheds, a remote region in the Peruvian Amazon. Our team was about 200 kilometers from any of the nearest cities--Iquitos, Pucallpa, and Tarapoto--and 40 kilometers from the border with Brazil. The trip was filled with discoveries (three new plants, four new fishes, four new frogs, a savanna habitat none of us expected in this part of Peru) but the biggest discovery was a mystery monkey. 

North Carolina Zoo polar bear habitat with fake rocks and painted lichens

Attention to lichen detail in the polar bear habitat

One of the best zoos Collections Manager Robert Lücking has ever visited is the North Carolina Zoo, with its vast area allowing much space for its animals. Also, the attention to detail is quite amazing. Many dioramas include rock features made out of various materials including concrete, specifically designed to meet the animals' needs. What is astonishing, however, that the designers and builders even took care to mimic lichens growing on these fake rocks, and even on close-up these look so real that one has to make sure they are not just paint.

The Field Museum Collections help define the "edges" of life on earth

Chicago Ideas Week (CIW) is an innovative gathering of ideas and presentations to innovate and fuel new ways to look at the world.  Past speakers include David Axelrod, Hillary Clinton, Naomi Judd, George Lucas and Reverend Al Sharpton.   Invited to the 2014 CIW Edison Talks, Bill Stanley, Director of the Collections Center at the Field, used specimens to explain how study of the diverse and unique library of material housed at the Museum constantly re-defines our understanding of earth. 

Naked mole-rats: Not a mole, not a rat, and not an African mole-rat

You may remember him from the Saturday morning cartoon, Kim Possible – Rufus, the naked mole-rat, tenacious pet of Kim’s best friend Ron. With very little hair, some whiskers, wrinkly-pink skin and large teeth, Rufus stole the hearts of all who watched him save the day. In many episodes, Rufus is the hero, and like Kim and Ron, scientists agree that naked mole-rats are pretty cool.

Kilimanjaro's Small Mammals

Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania has captured the imagination for decades, and climbing it is one of the most common items on the proverbial bucket list.  “Kili” is not only the tallest mountain in Africa, it is the tallest free-standing (isolated and not part of a mountain range) massif in the world.  Thousands of climbers ascend Kilimanjaro every year, trekking through multiple habitat zones to reach the summit which is 5895 m (19571 feet) above sea level.