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.

November 7th, 2011
Birds in a Hurry, ANSP’s 200 Stories
Long-tailed Hermit (Phaethornis superciliosus): (Photo by Brian Gratwicke, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic)
Anybody who has watched a hummingbird in flight knows that these amazing birds use a lot of energy. They zip and dart about, and while hovering, their wings can beat 20–25 times per second. Based on an extensive series of engineering studies on bird flight by Crawford H. Greenewalt, hummingbird flight is most efficient at 5.5­­–7.5 meters/second (or 12–16 mph). If they go any faster or any slower, the birds burn a lot of extra energy.
The Academy’s Dr. Frank B. Gill wanted to find out how fast these birds fly in the wild. In June 1982, he conducted a study of the long-tailed hermit (Phaethornis superciliosus) in the rainforests of Costa Rica. Many hummingbird species are territorial and will defend a patch of flowers, so it’s hard to measure their “normal” flight. But by estimating the time it takes for these birds to fly the 40 meters (131 feet) between two artificial flowers, Gill was able to record an average speed of 11.6 m/second (26 mph), which is nearly double hummingbirds’ most efficient speed!

Birds in a Hurry, ANSP’s 200 Stories

Long-tailed Hermit (Phaethornis superciliosus): (Photo by Brian Gratwicke, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic)

Anybody who has watched a hummingbird in flight knows that these amazing birds use a lot of energy. They zip and dart about, and while hovering, their wings can beat 20–25 times per second. Based on an extensive series of engineering studies on bird flight by Crawford H. Greenewalt, hummingbird flight is most efficient at 5.5­­–7.5 meters/second (or 12–16 mph). If they go any faster or any slower, the birds burn a lot of extra energy.

The Academy’s Dr. Frank B. Gill wanted to find out how fast these birds fly in the wild. In June 1982, he conducted a study of the long-tailed hermit (Phaethornis superciliosus) in the rainforests of Costa Rica. Many hummingbird species are territorial and will defend a patch of flowers, so it’s hard to measure their “normal” flight. But by estimating the time it takes for these birds to fly the 40 meters (131 feet) between two artificial flowers, Gill was able to record an average speed of 11.6 m/second (26 mph), which is nearly double hummingbirds’ most efficient speed!

October 28th, 2011
Catching the Wily Coyote, ANSP’s 200 Stories
Coyote (Canis latrans) from John James Audubon’s The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America: Image from the Ewell Sale Stewart Library & Archives
Before the 1820s, trappers and travelers to the American West were familiar with the coyote, but this animal remained unknown in the scientific sense until 1823, when Academy founder Thomas Say described it. Say encountered the coyote during a famous journey known as the Long Expedition. Often called prairie wolves, these animals “are by far the most numerous of our wolves, and often unite in packs for the purpose of chasing deer,” wrote the expedition’s chronicler, Edwin James. He named the animal Canis latrans (barking dog) in reference to its distinct call. To the dismay of Say and his fellow explorers, these creatures frequently ventured close to the expedition’s encampments but proved exceptionally difficult to catch.
James explained that Say’s colleague and fellow naturalist Titian Peale “constructed and tried various kinds of traps to take them,” but to no avail. Each morning Say and Peale would discover a host of coyote footprints telling them that the coyotes were interested in the bait but too crafty to be caught. In fact, one coyote actually dug underneath the trap and retrieved the bait. Ultimately, they trapped a coyote, but it was killed in the process.
Visit the Academy today to check out our dioramas, many of which contain animals gathered during 20th century expeditions to the American West!

Catching the Wily Coyote, ANSP’s 200 Stories

Coyote (Canis latrans) from John James Audubon’s The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America: Image from the Ewell Sale Stewart Library & Archives

Before the 1820s, trappers and travelers to the American West were familiar with the coyote, but this animal remained unknown in the scientific sense until 1823, when Academy founder Thomas Say described it. Say encountered the coyote during a famous journey known as the Long Expedition. Often called prairie wolves, these animals “are by far the most numerous of our wolves, and often unite in packs for the purpose of chasing deer,” wrote the expedition’s chronicler, Edwin James. He named the animal Canis latrans (barking dog) in reference to its distinct call. To the dismay of Say and his fellow explorers, these creatures frequently ventured close to the expedition’s encampments but proved exceptionally difficult to catch.

James explained that Say’s colleague and fellow naturalist Titian Peale “constructed and tried various kinds of traps to take them,” but to no avail. Each morning Say and Peale would discover a host of coyote footprints telling them that the coyotes were interested in the bait but too crafty to be caught. In fact, one coyote actually dug underneath the trap and retrieved the bait. Ultimately, they trapped a coyote, but it was killed in the process.

Visit the Academy today to check out our dioramas, many of which contain animals gathered during 20th century expeditions to the American West!

October 24th, 2011
Heartworm Attack, ANSP’s 200 Stories
Joseph Leidy, the father of American Vertebrate Paleontology, did not limit his research to fossils. Two years before he described Hadrosaurus foulkii, the most complete dinosaur skeleton known in 1858, he identified heartworm, a serious parasitic disease that affects dogs and some other mammals. He described the culprit, a nematode worm, and named it Filaria immitis. (It was later renamed Dirofilaria immitis.)
Leidy related the circumstances leading up to the discovery: “Mr. Joseph Jones recently presented to me two specimens of the heart of the dog.” According to Leidy, one dog’s heart contained five filariae (the long, thread-like adults). In the second dog, “the right auricle and ventricle, and the pulmonary artery in its ramifications through the lungs are literally stuffed with Filariae.” Leidy noted that the blood of the second dog contained “a great number of the young.”
Leidy noted that the first dog had an appetite that was “voracious and insatiable, and notwithstanding he was abundantly supplied with food, he remained in a very lean condition.” The dog afflicted with the mass of worms “was always so thin as to resemble a skeleton.”
Thanks to Leidy’s identification of heartworm, scientists have created medications to treat it. Want to know more about Leidy? See the online exhibit on Joseph Leidy or visit the Academy to see Hadrosaurus foulkii in our Dinosaur Hall!

Heartworm Attack, ANSP’s 200 Stories

Joseph Leidy, the father of American Vertebrate Paleontology, did not limit his research to fossils. Two years before he described Hadrosaurus foulkii, the most complete dinosaur skeleton known in 1858, he identified heartworm, a serious parasitic disease that affects dogs and some other mammals. He described the culprit, a nematode worm, and named it Filaria immitis. (It was later renamed Dirofilaria immitis.)

Leidy related the circumstances leading up to the discovery: “Mr. Joseph Jones recently presented to me two specimens of the heart of the dog.” According to Leidy, one dog’s heart contained five filariae (the long, thread-like adults). In the second dog, “the right auricle and ventricle, and the pulmonary artery in its ramifications through the lungs are literally stuffed with Filariae.” Leidy noted that the blood of the second dog contained “a great number of the young.”

Leidy noted that the first dog had an appetite that was “voracious and insatiable, and notwithstanding he was abundantly supplied with food, he remained in a very lean condition.” The dog afflicted with the mass of worms “was always so thin as to resemble a skeleton.”

Thanks to Leidy’s identification of heartworm, scientists have created medications to treat it. Want to know more about Leidy? See the online exhibit on Joseph Leidy or visit the Academy to see Hadrosaurus foulkii in our Dinosaur Hall!

October 20th, 2011
Diorama Digest, ANSP’s 200 stories
One goal of many of the early Academy diorama expeditions was to collect a “family group” of one adult male, one adult female, and one juvenile to display in lifelike dioramas within the museum. In the explorers’ opinion, this composition would allow visitors to see the differences between male and female members of the same animal group—even if it didn’t reflect the reality of nature. When you visit the museum, make sure to check out the gorilla and sable antelope dioramas, which provide good examples of these “family groups.”
The okapi diorama also was supposed to depict a family, but the animal is so secretive that the field scientists were only able to collect a female and calf. George Vanderbilt, the sponsor of the trip, was sorely disappointed that he wasn’t able to find a male okapi. Still hopeful, Vanderbilt left his permits with his local hunting guide Baron von Blixen, whose wife Karen wrote Out of Africa under the pen name of Isak Dinesen. Vanderbilt was so confident that von Blixen would find a male that he instructed the director of exhibits to leave a space for it in the diorama. Ironically, the male okapi never materialized!
Can you pick out the spot reserved for the missing male okapi? Visit the Academy to find out!

Diorama Digest, ANSP’s 200 stories

One goal of many of the early Academy diorama expeditions was to collect a “family group” of one adult male, one adult female, and one juvenile to display in lifelike dioramas within the museum. In the explorers’ opinion, this composition would allow visitors to see the differences between male and female members of the same animal group—even if it didn’t reflect the reality of nature. When you visit the museum, make sure to check out the gorilla and sable antelope dioramas, which provide good examples of these “family groups.”

The okapi diorama also was supposed to depict a family, but the animal is so secretive that the field scientists were only able to collect a female and calf. George Vanderbilt, the sponsor of the trip, was sorely disappointed that he wasn’t able to find a male okapi. Still hopeful, Vanderbilt left his permits with his local hunting guide Baron von Blixen, whose wife Karen wrote Out of Africa under the pen name of Isak Dinesen. Vanderbilt was so confident that von Blixen would find a male that he instructed the director of exhibits to leave a space for it in the diorama. Ironically, the male okapi never materialized!

Can you pick out the spot reserved for the missing male okapi? Visit the Academy to find out!

October 4th, 2011
As part of my thesis, I’m going to be posting some of the Academy’s 200 Stories here on my blog, not only to raise awareness of this awesome initiative (200 stories about the institution - one a day until the 200th anniversary of ANSP!), but also as a means of hosting photos for my Google Earth file.
To read more about Frankenmoose, as he is fondly nicknamed, click here.
Keep questioning,Sara 

As part of my thesis, I’m going to be posting some of the Academy’s 200 Stories here on my blog, not only to raise awareness of this awesome initiative (200 stories about the institution - one a day until the 200th anniversary of ANSP!), but also as a means of hosting photos for my Google Earth file.

To read more about Frankenmoose, as he is fondly nicknamed, click here.

Keep questioning,
Sara 

August 10th, 2011
discoverynews:

sciencecenter:

The Australian Peacock Spider. Its mating rituals are just as bizarre as its appearance.

Fabulous video. Watch this.

I was never one for bugs… but now that I’ve been spending many of my waking hours at the Academy, I’ve developed a thicker skin and even a bit of a fondness for them. Good timing, since the Academy’s highly-anticipated Bug Fest is this weekend!
As I was gathering supplies for the activities I created for next week’s camp theme: Ancient Animals, I was amid the hustle and bustle of the education department’s Bug Fest preparations. It’s a crazy-huge event at the Academy, with a TON of fun events for science-lovers of all ages, including insect cuisine. I may or may not have tried my first chocolate chirp cookie… you don’t even want to know.
Keep questioning,Sara 

discoverynews:

sciencecenter:

The Australian Peacock Spider. Its mating rituals are just as bizarre as its appearance.

Fabulous video. Watch this.

I was never one for bugs… but now that I’ve been spending many of my waking hours at the Academy, I’ve developed a thicker skin and even a bit of a fondness for them. Good timing, since the Academy’s highly-anticipated Bug Fest is this weekend!

As I was gathering supplies for the activities I created for next week’s camp theme: Ancient Animals, I was amid the hustle and bustle of the education department’s Bug Fest preparations. It’s a crazy-huge event at the Academy, with a TON of fun events for science-lovers of all ages, including insect cuisine. I may or may not have tried my first chocolate chirp cookie… you don’t even want to know.

Keep questioning,
Sara 

August 6th, 2011

Another one of Dr. Nate Rice’s photos.
Read more about it here.

Another one of Dr. Nate Rice’s photos.

Read more about it here.


Another one of Dr. Nate Rice’s photos.
Read more about it here.

Another one of Dr. Nate Rice’s photos.

Read more about it here.


Another one of Dr. Nate Rice’s photos.
Read more about it here.

Another one of Dr. Nate Rice’s photos.

Read more about it here.

July 7th, 2011
allcreatures:

An ocelot (Leopardus pardalis)  at the animal rescue centre in the Nicaraguan national zoo. Nicaragua  has recently hosted a workshop of the Convention on International Trade  in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. Photograph: Elmer Martinez/AFP/Getty Images

CUTE ANIMAL PIC OF THE DAY.

allcreatures:

An ocelot (Leopardus pardalis) at the animal rescue centre in the Nicaraguan national zoo. Nicaragua has recently hosted a workshop of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. Photograph: Elmer Martinez/AFP/Getty Images

CUTE ANIMAL PIC OF THE DAY.

(Source: Guardian)

June 17th, 2011
I love this quote as well as the collage itself. I used to collage a LOT, but since I’ve become more involved with school, my creative expression time has dwindled! Although I have more down time over the summer, I’m still swamped with to do lists and end up vegging during every spare minute I can find!
Keep questioning,Sara 

I love this quote as well as the collage itself. I used to collage a LOT, but since I’ve become more involved with school, my creative expression time has dwindled! Although I have more down time over the summer, I’m still swamped with to do lists and end up vegging during every spare minute I can find!

Keep questioning,
Sara 

(via anoceanactivist)

June 15th, 2011
Ancient Sea Turtle Discovered in New Jersey! (via philly.com)
A photo story documents the discovery of a 65 million-year-old turtle fossil by paleontologists at the Academy of Natural Sciences and Drexel University.
Keep questioning,Sara 

Ancient Sea Turtle Discovered in New Jersey! (via philly.com)

A photo story documents the discovery of a 65 million-year-old turtle fossil by paleontologists at the Academy of Natural Sciences and Drexel University.

Keep questioning,
Sara 

June 14th, 2011
humoftrees:

mabelmoments:

A strange bird showed up in Larry Ammann’s backyard on Jan. 14. Clearly a cardinal, it had the bright red plumage of a male on its left side and gray, female feathers on its right.
“I had no clue how on Earth something like that could happen,” said Ammann, a professor of statistics and a wildlife photographer who lives in a suburb of Dallas. “It was a learning experience.”
Ammann and the biologists he consulted concluded the bird was most likely part female, part male. Creatures with this condition are called gynandromorphs. They are genetic anomalies: Some cells in their bodies carry the genetic instructions for a male, some for a female. While this gender-bending also occurs among insects, spiders and crustaceans, birds like this cardinal have raised questions about how sex identity is determined among some animals.
continued

Nature is so cool

Science is so fascinating.
Keep questioning,Sara

humoftrees:

mabelmoments:

A strange bird showed up in Larry Ammann’s backyard on Jan. 14. Clearly a cardinal, it had the bright red plumage of a male on its left side and gray, female feathers on its right.

“I had no clue how on Earth something like that could happen,” said Ammann, a professor of statistics and a wildlife photographer who lives in a suburb of Dallas. “It was a learning experience.”

Ammann and the biologists he consulted concluded the bird was most likely part female, part male. Creatures with this condition are called gynandromorphs. They are genetic anomalies: Some cells in their bodies carry the genetic instructions for a male, some for a female. While this gender-bending also occurs among insects, spiders and crustaceans, birds like this cardinal have raised questions about how sex identity is determined among some animals.

continued

Nature is so cool

Science is so fascinating.

Keep questioning,
Sara

(via teachinglearning)

May 29th, 2011
allcreatures:

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s Augo the flying polar bear cub. The cub used to be afraid of the water but now amuses visitors to Aalborg Zoo in Denmark with his diving skills. The cheeky bear previously delighted onlookers with his infatuation with a blue bucket, which he insisted wearing on his head. 							 							Picture: Peter G. Christiansen / Rex Features

Cutest little thang!

allcreatures:

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s Augo the flying polar bear cub. The cub used to be afraid of the water but now amuses visitors to Aalborg Zoo in Denmark with his diving skills. The cheeky bear previously delighted onlookers with his infatuation with a blue bucket, which he insisted wearing on his head. Picture: Peter G. Christiansen / Rex Features

Cutest little thang!