Blogs & Videos: Series

Strange sea-dwelling reptile fossil hints at rapid evolution after mass extinction

Two hundred and fifty million years ago, life on earth was in a tail-spin—climate change, volcanic eruptions, and rising sea levels contributed to a mass extinction that makes the death of the dinosaurs look like child’s play. Marine life got hit hardest—96% of all marine species went extinct. For a long time, scientists believed that the early marine reptiles that came about after the mass extinction evolved slowly, but the recent discovery of a strange new fossil brings that view into question.

“Hammerhead” creature was world’s first plant-eating marine reptile

In 2014, scientists discovered a bizarre fossil—a crocodile-sized sea-dwelling reptile that lived 242 million years ago in what today is southern China. Its head was poorly preserved, but it seemed to have a flamingo-like beak. But in a paper published today in Science Advances, paleontologists reveal what was really going on—that “beak” is actually part of a hammerhead-shaped jaw apparatus, which it used to feed on plants on the ocean floor. It’s the earliest known example of an herbivorous marine reptile.

Tully monster mystery SOLVED!

How is it that a Museum can have 1,200+ fossils of a particular species in its collection since the 1960's... and not even know what it is? For decades, it was thought the 'Tully monster' -- a bizarre animal that lived 307 million years ago -- was an invertebrate, like a kind of worm. But in March, Field Museum scientists helped finally crack the mystery of the monster, to reveal it's actually related to lamprey fish. BOOM.

Beetles, Mites, Cockroaches Oh My! [Insect Collection Tour]

The insect collection is the largest at The Field Museum, with more than 12 million specimens - only (only?!) 4 million of those are pinned in the dry collection. Crystal is in charge of all of them- no pressure. Want to search the zoological collections on your own? Look no further!:http://bit.ly/fmnhzoology

Crystal and her Water Beetles

Want to travel the world? Become a biologist! Crystal Maier - Collections Manager of Insects at The Field Museum - spent a month in New Zealand, going from stream to stream in search of hobbits. And by hobbits I mean beetles that spend their entire lives underwater. How?! Why?! We get answers. Thanks to Crystal for taking the time to talk with us about her research! 

How to Beat Extinction: Live Fast, Die Young

When you don’t know if you have much of a future, you focus more on the now—there’s no point in biding your time and waiting when you could die any day. It seems that evolution follows this rule too—a recent study published by Field Museum scientists in Scientific Reports reveals that for Lystrosaurus (pygmy hippo-sized mammal relatives that lived with the dinosaurs), when the going got tough, the tough got busy.

The Taxonomy of Candy

In our previous video 'What is a Species?,' we talked about the many ways scientists approach classifying organisms. So, I thought it'd be fun to get a few scientists from The Field Museum to apply their taxonomic know-how on something we're all familiar with: candy! How would you have organized these various confections? 

Nesting: How Scientific Collections Helped Reveal an Artist’s Inspiration

The Field Museum is home to 30 million specimens that get sent around the world—most of the time, they’re used for scientific research, but this time, they wound up in an art museum right here in Chicago. The Art Institute of Chicago has a new exhibition featuring Van Gogh’s paintings of bedrooms that explores his artistic influences and the concept of home. His fascination with homes included a collection of birds’ nests that became the subject matter of several of his paintings.

Pages