January 1st, 2014
January 17th, 2012
A snapshot of Samuel Rhoads’ publications, drawings, and field notes (Image courtesy of Kim Custer at the Haddonfield Historical Society)
Thesis, thesis, thesis, thesis! 
Keep questioning,Sara 

A snapshot of Samuel Rhoads’ publications, drawings, and field notes (Image courtesy of Kim Custer at the Haddonfield Historical Society)

Thesis, thesis, thesis, thesis! 

Keep questioning,
Sara 

November 23rd, 2011
Image courtesy of Davidson, J. P. (2002). Bonehead mistakes: The background in scientific literature and illustrations for Edward Drinker Cope’s first restoration of Elasmosaurus platyurus. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, Vol. 152, p. 220 (via JSTOR)
Fossil remains of Plesiosaurus macrocephalus, a large marine reptile similar to Elasmosaurus platyurus.

Image courtesy of Davidson, J. P. (2002). Bonehead mistakes: The background in scientific literature and illustrations for Edward Drinker Cope’s first restoration of Elasmosaurus platyurus. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, Vol. 152, p. 220 (via JSTOR)

Fossil remains of Plesiosaurus macrocephalus, a large marine reptile similar to Elasmosaurus platyurus.

Bone Wars: The Cope-Marsh Rivalry - ANSP’s 200 Stories
Othniel Charles Marsh (left) and Edward Drinker Cope Ewell Sale Stewart Library & Archives coll. 457
The rivalry between brilliant paleontologists Edward Drinker Cope and Othniel Charles Marsh dominated American science during the second half of the 19th century. Marsh and Cope’s relationship soured when Cope showed off his fossil of Elasmosaurus, a large marine reptile from the Late Cretaceous period, and Marsh pointed out that the vertebrae (backbones) were oriented backwards. After a sharp exchange they agreed to have Academy curator Joseph Leidy decide who was right. Leidy promptly removed the head from one end and placed it on what Cope had thought was the tail. Afterwards, Cope frantically tried to collect all copies of a recently printed publication that contained his erroneous reconstruction. Leidy exposed the error and attempted cover-up at the next meeting of the Academy of Natural Sciences.
The rivalry between Cope and Marsh went from bad to worse. Although their race to discover and name new species yielded many fossil discoveries, it drove both men to extremes. Cope’s rushed work was plagued by careless errors. Marsh often resorted to bribery and bullying in the pursuit of specimens. Their exchanges in print were filled with poisonous charges and countercharges of errors, distortions, and fraud. At first these exchanges were limited to scientific journals, but later they made their way to the newspapers.
The Bone Wars between Marsh and Cope became so intense that Joseph Leidy veered away from his studies of vertebrate paleontology of the West. Learn how Leidy continued to develop a prolific career in other areas. 
"The competition between Cope and Marsh marked an extraordinarily productive period in American paleontology. Together, these two men discovered and described more than 140 new species of fossil animals" (Getting to know Cope, ANSP, 2011)
Click here to see this story online at ANSP’s 200 Stories series!

Bone Wars: The Cope-Marsh Rivalry - ANSP’s 200 Stories

Othniel Charles Marsh (left) and Edward Drinker Cope Ewell Sale Stewart Library & Archives coll. 457

The rivalry between brilliant paleontologists Edward Drinker Cope and Othniel Charles Marsh dominated American science during the second half of the 19th century. Marsh and Cope’s relationship soured when Cope showed off his fossil of Elasmosaurus, a large marine reptile from the Late Cretaceous period, and Marsh pointed out that the vertebrae (backbones) were oriented backwards. After a sharp exchange they agreed to have Academy curator Joseph Leidy decide who was right. Leidy promptly removed the head from one end and placed it on what Cope had thought was the tail. Afterwards, Cope frantically tried to collect all copies of a recently printed publication that contained his erroneous reconstruction. Leidy exposed the error and attempted cover-up at the next meeting of the Academy of Natural Sciences.

The rivalry between Cope and Marsh went from bad to worse. Although their race to discover and name new species yielded many fossil discoveries, it drove both men to extremes. Cope’s rushed work was plagued by careless errors. Marsh often resorted to bribery and bullying in the pursuit of specimens. Their exchanges in print were filled with poisonous charges and countercharges of errors, distortions, and fraud. At first these exchanges were limited to scientific journals, but later they made their way to the newspapers.

The Bone Wars between Marsh and Cope became so intense that Joseph Leidy veered away from his studies of vertebrate paleontology of the West. Learn how Leidy continued to develop a prolific career in other areas

"The competition between Cope and Marsh marked an extraordinarily productive period in American paleontology. Together, these two men discovered and described more than 140 new species of fossil animals" (Getting to know Cope, ANSP, 2011)

Click here to see this story online at ANSP’s 200 Stories series!

November 22nd, 2011
An awesome rendering of naturalist, Titian Ramsey Peale (via Wikimedia Commons)
Adding this one to my file for the Academy. I spent some time talking to my thesis adviser this morning (thanks, Skype!) and have really kicked it into gear in terms of getting things done. Thank goodness for vacation time! I’m not usually the type to actually get things done during vacation, but I suppose there’s a time for everything!
Keep questioning,Sara 

An awesome rendering of naturalist, Titian Ramsey Peale (via Wikimedia Commons)

Adding this one to my file for the Academy. I spent some time talking to my thesis adviser this morning (thanks, Skype!) and have really kicked it into gear in terms of getting things done. Thank goodness for vacation time! I’m not usually the type to actually get things done during vacation, but I suppose there’s a time for everything!

Keep questioning,
Sara 

November 21st, 2011

How much do college students really study? According to the annual National Survey of Student Engagement, the average college senior hits the books for about 15 hours a week. But the amount they devote to reading, reviewing notes, or participating in study groups varies significantly depending on their major.

In a word, no.

In more than a word, here’s what I think: As a college senior, I definitely don’t spend enough time “hitting the books,” for a number of reasons.

1) I go to a commuters’ school where the sense of community isn’t very strong.

If I’d been with the same students for the past three years and I had a distinct sense of belonging to my major, perhaps I would spend more time studying or doing homework with my classmates.

2) I have less of a social life and more of a “real world” life.

I know that sounds strange — having less of a social life means I study less? Well, as a student of a commuters’ school, I have not had much power to join a distinct social circle. Part of it is the “vibe” at school: most students come to campus for classes and leave. There are not a lot of extracurriculars, and since the campus is so small, it’s hard to find others who have distinct interests like yours. Because of these things, I have less of a social life than students who may go to four-year schools with dorms. I have two part-time jobs, and I spent a lot of time with family who lives close by. This leaves little room for studying. I barely have time to do homework.

3) Students are less concerned about school than they used to be.

This is pretty self-explanatory. It’s not at every school, for sure, but I have witnessed this Generation Y syndrome firsthand. A lot of students my age just want to party and want to get paid well at their first job. There are just as many students who want to learn for learning’s sake and who genuinely care about their education, but I would bet that number has gone down in the past few decades.

Just some thoughts. Just another form of distraction from the studying I should be doing on this lovely Monday before Thanksgiving…

Keep questioning,
Sara 

(Source: GOOD, via gjmueller)

November 18th, 2011
A snapshot of Dolan’s 1941 exhibit of specimens from the second expedition to China and Tibet (Ewell Sale Stewart Library, Coll. 64, Box #2, Folder #7)
Adding more to the thesis… I’ll finally be done the Google Earth file in a few days. I just need to carve out some time to dedicate to it.
The past few weeks have been rough. I have been trying to effectively manage my time, only to find that I have too little of it to spare for my thesis. My attention has been on my classes and part-time jobs, and I’ve been choosing to spend my scarce free time with family or simply relaxing.
As much as I love the Academy, it’s so hard for me to get there on a weekly basis, which has allowed my enthusiasm for the project to dwindle. Hopefully, as the semester winds down, I will be able to visit more, and knock out a huge chunk of the project. I need injections of motivation, especially as the excitement of winter vacation and the holidays is mounting….
Wish me luck & keep questioning,Sara 

A snapshot of Dolan’s 1941 exhibit of specimens from the second expedition to China and Tibet (Ewell Sale Stewart Library, Coll. 64, Box #2, Folder #7)

Adding more to the thesis… I’ll finally be done the Google Earth file in a few days. I just need to carve out some time to dedicate to it.

The past few weeks have been rough. I have been trying to effectively manage my time, only to find that I have too little of it to spare for my thesis. My attention has been on my classes and part-time jobs, and I’ve been choosing to spend my scarce free time with family or simply relaxing.

As much as I love the Academy, it’s so hard for me to get there on a weekly basis, which has allowed my enthusiasm for the project to dwindle. Hopefully, as the semester winds down, I will be able to visit more, and knock out a huge chunk of the project. I need injections of motivation, especially as the excitement of winter vacation and the holidays is mounting….

Wish me luck & keep questioning,
Sara 

November 17th, 2011
Uploading a new picture of Frankenmoose, thanks to my friend and fellow Academy volunteer/employee, Erica Lucy. I saw Erica’s series titled "Creature Fear," and was happy to recognize the furry faces of animals in the Academy’s dioramas. I’m excited to add the work of such a talented photographer to my thesis, even if it is only a photo or two. I might just have to make room for more! 
Keep questioning,Sara 

Uploading a new picture of Frankenmoose, thanks to my friend and fellow Academy volunteer/employee, Erica Lucy. I saw Erica’s series titled "Creature Fear," and was happy to recognize the furry faces of animals in the Academy’s dioramas. I’m excited to add the work of such a talented photographer to my thesis, even if it is only a photo or two. I might just have to make room for more! 

Keep questioning,
Sara 

November 13th, 2011
'Rhythms of the Universe' will be a multimedia presentation that explores humankind's yearning to understand the cosmos & where this yearning will take us, as a species.

Mark Ballora at TEDxPSU, on a project he’s contributing to called “Rhythms of the Universe” by astrophysicist George Smoot and famed drummer & ethnomusicologist, Mickey Hart

— My astronomy professor would be ALL OVER this!

November 12th, 2011
Gauging Wetlands, ANSP’s 200 Stories
Wetlands ecologist Dr. Tracy Quirk monitors a New Jersey wetlands with a surface elevation table that rests on the stable benchmark (the gray cylindrical object that is located in the center near the bottom margin of this photograph).
Led by Academy wetland ecologist Dr. Tracy Quirk, a team from the Patrick Center for Environmental Research is conducting long-term intensive monitoring of wetlands along the Delaware Bay and New Jersey Barnegat Bay. Wetlands are important because they protect coastal communities from storm surges and flooding, and they serve as habitats for fish and wildlife. Wetlands also help to reduce watershed nutrient inputs to estuaries and coastal oceans, which improves water quality and habitat for shellfish and fish. By identifying changes in the marshes’ surface elevation above sea level, plant communities, plant biomass, and soil and water chemistry, the team hopes to gain a better understanding of the health of wetlands, how humans impact wetland health, and whether wetlands are going to be sustainable in the future.
In this photograph, Quirk performs wetland monitoring using a surface elevation table at Island Beach State Park in Barnegat Bay, NJ. In this process, the team jackhammers stainless steel rods, or pins, down into the marsh until they meet resistance, leaving a stable benchmark against which Quirk can measure the elevation of the wetlands over time.
Learn more about the work of the Patrick Center.

Gauging Wetlands, ANSP’s 200 Stories

Wetlands ecologist Dr. Tracy Quirk monitors a New Jersey wetlands with a surface elevation table that rests on the stable benchmark (the gray cylindrical object that is located in the center near the bottom margin of this photograph).

Led by Academy wetland ecologist Dr. Tracy Quirk, a team from the Patrick Center for Environmental Research is conducting long-term intensive monitoring of wetlands along the Delaware Bay and New Jersey Barnegat Bay. Wetlands are important because they protect coastal communities from storm surges and flooding, and they serve as habitats for fish and wildlife. Wetlands also help to reduce watershed nutrient inputs to estuaries and coastal oceans, which improves water quality and habitat for shellfish and fish. By identifying changes in the marshes’ surface elevation above sea level, plant communities, plant biomass, and soil and water chemistry, the team hopes to gain a better understanding of the health of wetlands, how humans impact wetland health, and whether wetlands are going to be sustainable in the future.

In this photograph, Quirk performs wetland monitoring using a surface elevation table at Island Beach State Park in Barnegat Bay, NJ. In this process, the team jackhammers stainless steel rods, or pins, down into the marsh until they meet resistance, leaving a stable benchmark against which Quirk can measure the elevation of the wetlands over time.

Learn more about the work of the Patrick Center.

November 11th, 2011
Mummy Mystery, ANSP’s 200 Stories
Fred Mullison, Michael S. Beers, Dr. Ted Daeschler, and Ned Gilmore (left to right) carefully remove the Akhmin mummy from the diorama. The other mummy, Petiese, is shown at the bottom.
She had been dead for 2,200 years, but that didn’t matter to Egyptologist Jonathan Elias. She still had a story to tell. In 2006, Elias asked the Academy’s permission to temporarily remove one of the two mummies—that of a teenaged girl—from a diorama on the second floor of the museum. He wanted to transport the mummy to a local hospital for a CAT scan to better understand how the girl lived and died. She most likely hailed from the prominent trading town of Akhmin, which Elias and his colleagues were studying to learn about the ancient culture of the Nile River community.
As soon as the museum closed at 4:30 pm one May day, members of the Academy’s Vertebrate Zoology and Exhibits Departments got to work. They donned gloves and surgical masks, carefully removed the diorama’s glass, gingerly stepped around another mummy (a high priest named Petiese) that was in front of it, and somehow lifted the Akhmin mummy out and onto a makeshift gurney padded with bubble wrap. She spent the night in a climate-controlled room in the Academy until the next morning when she was loaded into the back of a mini-van and slowly driven to Hahnemann Hospital for the CAT scan.
When you visit the mummy diorama today, you will see the teen is still AWOL. She is on loan to another museum for an exhibit. But Petiese is still patiently waiting for you to stop by and pay him tribute.

Mummy Mystery, ANSP’s 200 Stories

Fred Mullison, Michael S. Beers, Dr. Ted Daeschler, and Ned Gilmore (left to right) carefully remove the Akhmin mummy from the diorama. The other mummy, Petiese, is shown at the bottom.

She had been dead for 2,200 years, but that didn’t matter to Egyptologist Jonathan Elias. She still had a story to tell. In 2006, Elias asked the Academy’s permission to temporarily remove one of the two mummies—that of a teenaged girl—from a diorama on the second floor of the museum. He wanted to transport the mummy to a local hospital for a CAT scan to better understand how the girl lived and died. She most likely hailed from the prominent trading town of Akhmin, which Elias and his colleagues were studying to learn about the ancient culture of the Nile River community.

As soon as the museum closed at 4:30 pm one May day, members of the Academy’s Vertebrate Zoology and Exhibits Departments got to work. They donned gloves and surgical masks, carefully removed the diorama’s glass, gingerly stepped around another mummy (a high priest named Petiese) that was in front of it, and somehow lifted the Akhmin mummy out and onto a makeshift gurney padded with bubble wrap. She spent the night in a climate-controlled room in the Academy until the next morning when she was loaded into the back of a mini-van and slowly driven to Hahnemann Hospital for the CAT scan.

When you visit the mummy diorama today, you will see the teen is still AWOL. She is on loan to another museum for an exhibit. But Petiese is still patiently waiting for you to stop by and pay him tribute.

Marine Reptile or Ancient Whale?, ANSP’s 200 Stories
Detail of Plate XXII from Richard Harlan’s 1835 article on Basilosaurus in the Transactions of the Geological Society of Pennsylvania. The large figure at the top is a fragment of the upper jaw. Several damaged but still intact teeth are shown along the bottom left edge of the upper jaw.
Academy naturalist Richard Harlan published several reports in the 1830s on the incomplete fossil remains of a massive creature. Harlan believed the animal’s huge vertebrae (backbones) resembled those belonging to extinct marine reptiles that resided in Europe. The fragment of its upper jaw was hollow, which confirmed Harlan’s suspicion that the creature was a reptile. On the other hand, the few teeth on that jaw differed from one another, which suggested the creature was a mammal. Harlan was still convinced the animal was a marine reptile. He named it Basilosaurus, which means ruling lizard.
Some of Harlan’s American colleagues disagreed, including fellow Academy member Samuel George Morton who thought Basilosaurus was an ancient whale. On the other side of the Atlantic, there was a similar debate about the animal’s identity. Harlan went to England to present his case to the Geological Society of London. Prior to the meeting, he met with Richard Owen, one of the leading scientists of the day. They examined the fossils using the latest techniques, and Owen convinced Harlan that the form and microscopic anatomy of the teeth proved Basilosaurus was a whale. Owen renamed it Zeuglodon (yoked tooth), yet the animal is still known as Basilosaurus because Harlan’s name came first. Later discoveries of more complete fossils confirmed that the animal was a primitive whale that may have measured 70 feet in length.

Marine Reptile or Ancient Whale?, ANSP’s 200 Stories

Detail of Plate XXII from Richard Harlan’s 1835 article on Basilosaurus in the Transactions of the Geological Society of Pennsylvania. The large figure at the top is a fragment of the upper jaw. Several damaged but still intact teeth are shown along the bottom left edge of the upper jaw.

Academy naturalist Richard Harlan published several reports in the 1830s on the incomplete fossil remains of a massive creature. Harlan believed the animal’s huge vertebrae (backbones) resembled those belonging to extinct marine reptiles that resided in Europe. The fragment of its upper jaw was hollow, which confirmed Harlan’s suspicion that the creature was a reptile. On the other hand, the few teeth on that jaw differed from one another, which suggested the creature was a mammal. Harlan was still convinced the animal was a marine reptile. He named it Basilosaurus, which means ruling lizard.

Some of Harlan’s American colleagues disagreed, including fellow Academy member Samuel George Morton who thought Basilosaurus was an ancient whale. On the other side of the Atlantic, there was a similar debate about the animal’s identity. Harlan went to England to present his case to the Geological Society of London. Prior to the meeting, he met with Richard Owen, one of the leading scientists of the day. They examined the fossils using the latest techniques, and Owen convinced Harlan that the form and microscopic anatomy of the teeth proved Basilosaurus was a whale. Owen renamed it Zeuglodon (yoked tooth), yet the animal is still known as Basilosaurus because Harlan’s name came first. Later discoveries of more complete fossils confirmed that the animal was a primitive whale that may have measured 70 feet in length.

November 10th, 2011
Evolution at the Circus, ANSP’s 200 Stories
The letter from P. T. Barnum to Joseph Leidy requesting an evaluation of his new circus elephant, Jumbo. Ewell Sale Stewart Library & Archives coll. 1.
The Academy Archives contain close to 3,000 handwritten letters from individuals who sought the opinion of the Academy’s Dr. Joseph Leidy (1823–1891), the pre-eminent scientist of his time. Among the most legendary and unusual correspondents is circus showman P.T. Barnum. Barnum’s letter came about after his purchase of Jumbo, an elephant that he believed to be the largest in the world. While touring in Philadelphia, Barnum wrote to naturalist Leidy to request an evaluation of this extraordinary creature’s size.

PhiladelphiaApril 28, 1882Prof. Leidy D[ea]r Sir,I hope you will examine the Jumbo & write me to Arlington House Washington whether you think he is really an ordinary [or extraordinary] Elephant.Truly,P. T. Barnum

Barnum’s letter was newly revealed when Brooke Dolan Archivist Clare Flemming shared the collection of Leidy’s correspondence with scholar Brandon Zimmerman. Not satisfied with reading a list of signatories, the scholar asked to see the actual letters. He may have been the first to recognize the Barnum letter as having been written by the famous showman. A typo in the Academy’s Guide to Manuscripts listing the letter as belonging to “N.T. Barnum” may have caused other scholars to overlook Barnum’s letter.

Evolution at the Circus, ANSP’s 200 Stories

The letter from P. T. Barnum to Joseph Leidy requesting an evaluation of his new circus elephant, Jumbo. Ewell Sale Stewart Library & Archives coll. 1.

The Academy Archives contain close to 3,000 handwritten letters from individuals who sought the opinion of the Academy’s Dr. Joseph Leidy (1823–1891), the pre-eminent scientist of his time. Among the most legendary and unusual correspondents is circus showman P.T. Barnum. Barnum’s letter came about after his purchase of Jumbo, an elephant that he believed to be the largest in the world. While touring in Philadelphia, Barnum wrote to naturalist Leidy to request an evaluation of this extraordinary creature’s size.

Philadelphia
April 28, 1882
Prof. Leidy D[ea]r Sir,
I hope you will examine the Jumbo & write me to Arlington House Washington whether you think he is really an ordinary [or extraordinary] Elephant.
Truly,
P. T. Barnum

Barnum’s letter was newly revealed when Brooke Dolan Archivist Clare Flemming shared the collection of Leidy’s correspondence with scholar Brandon Zimmerman. Not satisfied with reading a list of signatories, the scholar asked to see the actual letters. He may have been the first to recognize the Barnum letter as having been written by the famous showman. A typo in the Academy’s Guide to Manuscripts listing the letter as belonging to “N.T. Barnum” may have caused other scholars to overlook Barnum’s letter.

Time for Tea, ANSP’s 200 Stories
Charles C. G. Chaplin (left) and Dr. James E. Böhlke examine a fish while working on Hog Island, Bahamas, 1956.
In the 1950s, active Academy supporter and fish enthusiast Charles C.G. Chaplin proposed undertaking an intensive study of the waters adjacent to his island home in the Bahamas. To help him, the Academy hired young ichthyologist James E. Böhlke, and the two formed an eight-year collaboration.
Each winter, Böhlke joined the Chaplins at their winter home where the men adhered to a strict daily schedule: early tea at 7 am on the porch, then a trip across the harbor to pick up the daily household workers, and then a substantial breakfast at 9 am. By mid-morning, they loaded the gear into the boat and left to collect. Regardless of their agenda, they returned to the house by 4:30 or 5 pm for tea. After tea, they processed and inspected the day’s catch and cleaned the boat and gear.

Time for Tea, ANSP’s 200 Stories

Charles C. G. Chaplin (left) and Dr. James E. Böhlke examine a fish while working on Hog Island, Bahamas, 1956.

In the 1950s, active Academy supporter and fish enthusiast Charles C.G. Chaplin proposed undertaking an intensive study of the waters adjacent to his island home in the Bahamas. To help him, the Academy hired young ichthyologist James E. Böhlke, and the two formed an eight-year collaboration.

Each winter, Böhlke joined the Chaplins at their winter home where the men adhered to a strict daily schedule: early tea at 7 am on the porch, then a trip across the harbor to pick up the daily household workers, and then a substantial breakfast at 9 am. By mid-morning, they loaded the gear into the boat and left to collect. Regardless of their agenda, they returned to the house by 4:30 or 5 pm for tea. After tea, they processed and inspected the day’s catch and cleaned the boat and gear.

November 8th, 2011
Science Up Close, ANSP’s 200 Stories
Dr. Marina Potapova examines one of the German booklets in the Academy’s Diatom Herbarium.
Academy researchers are well-known in the science world for their explorations of diatoms, microscopic algae that are abundant in all aquatic habitats on Earth and produce approximately one-fifth of all organic matter on the planet. Scientists study diatom diversity to understand many things about the area in which the diatoms were collected, including rock age, climate changes over time, human land use, watershed modification, and water quality. Studying diatom diversity also can lead to the development of new uses for these organisms, including biofuel production and medications.
Here at the Academy Diatom Herbarium, we keep a series of little old booklets published in Germany between the 1830s and 60s. These booklets hold the key to the knowledge of diatom diversity. Instead of text and illustrations, the pages contain tiny, glued-in packages with pieces of aquatic plants, dried mud, or little specks of dust dried on glass. These specimens, which are used to describe certain species, are called “types.” When a contemporary researcher investigates a group of diatoms and suspects that some species have already been described, he or she takes a small portion of the type specimen and studies it using modern methods. This process helps distinguish species that have been described in the past from newly discovered species. The study of type specimens helps scientists reveal the true diversity of diatoms and find multiple applications for these resources.

Science Up Close, ANSP’s 200 Stories

Dr. Marina Potapova examines one of the German booklets in the Academy’s Diatom Herbarium.

Academy researchers are well-known in the science world for their explorations of diatoms, microscopic algae that are abundant in all aquatic habitats on Earth and produce approximately one-fifth of all organic matter on the planet. Scientists study diatom diversity to understand many things about the area in which the diatoms were collected, including rock age, climate changes over time, human land use, watershed modification, and water quality. Studying diatom diversity also can lead to the development of new uses for these organisms, including biofuel production and medications.

Here at the Academy Diatom Herbarium, we keep a series of little old booklets published in Germany between the 1830s and 60s. These booklets hold the key to the knowledge of diatom diversity. Instead of text and illustrations, the pages contain tiny, glued-in packages with pieces of aquatic plants, dried mud, or little specks of dust dried on glass. These specimens, which are used to describe certain species, are called “types.” When a contemporary researcher investigates a group of diatoms and suspects that some species have already been described, he or she takes a small portion of the type specimen and studies it using modern methods. This process helps distinguish species that have been described in the past from newly discovered species. The study of type specimens helps scientists reveal the true diversity of diatoms and find multiple applications for these resources.