The Brain Scoop:
The Audubon Field Guide

It’s John James Audubon’s birthday on April 26th, so we decided to celebrate his life and illustrative legacy by focusing on The Field Museum’s Library/Archives, which house a complete set of his infamous work: The Birds of America. Every Tuesday our librarians change a single page in one of the four massive volumes to reveal a new print - out of 435 different images, it will take more than 8 years to repeat a single image. 

Audubon was an interesting and often times amusing character from history but there is a certain relatability to his life: he started on this artist pilgrimage when he was 35, he failed publicly and often, was unconventional in his artistry, and at times was quite unpopular - but in the end he left an impact on his world which we still see today, 163 years after his death. 

Happy Birthday, J. J. Your gorgeous flowing locks will never be forgotten. 

TIL: When you get invited to go to lunch at the Google offices, prepare to break a padlock in half with a set of bolt cutters. (at Google)

TIL: When you get invited to go to lunch at the Google offices, prepare to break a padlock in half with a set of bolt cutters. (at Google)

Silicified stump: a type of petrified wood in which the organic material was replaced with a silicate mineral - in this case, clear quartz. The process of petrification occurs when organic material becomes quickly buried in a strict, oxygen-free environment, often as a result of flooding or volcanic eruption.
This specimen comes from the Gallatin Petrified Forest in Yellowstone National Park, an ancient Eocene ecosystem which thrived between 55-35mya. Check out this beauty on display in the newly configured geology exhibition space on the 2nd floor at The Field Museum!

Silicified stump: a type of petrified wood in which the organic material was replaced with a silicate mineral - in this case, clear quartz. The process of petrification occurs when organic material becomes quickly buried in a strict, oxygen-free environment, often as a result of flooding or volcanic eruption.

This specimen comes from the Gallatin Petrified Forest in Yellowstone National Park, an ancient Eocene ecosystem which thrived between 55-35mya. Check out this beauty on display in the newly configured geology exhibition space on the 2nd floor at The Field Museum!

Skull of the Magdalenian Woman, cranium of the most complete Upper Paleolithic skeleton in North America, dating between 17,000-12,000 BP. She was discovered in 1909 in the mouth of the Cap-Blanc cave in France when an excavation crew accidentally struck her head with a pick axe. She was reconstructed from the broken pieces in the 1930s but was left looking more ape- than human-like.
Today we are taking her to be CT scanned on a microscopic level in order to rebuild the skull in software, which will eventually be 3D printed, in order to have a more physiologically accurate model without risking damage to the original.
TECHNOLOGY 

Skull of the Magdalenian Woman, cranium of the most complete Upper Paleolithic skeleton in North America, dating between 17,000-12,000 BP. She was discovered in 1909 in the mouth of the Cap-Blanc cave in France when an excavation crew accidentally struck her head with a pick axe. She was reconstructed from the broken pieces in the 1930s but was left looking more ape- than human-like.

Today we are taking her to be CT scanned on a microscopic level in order to rebuild the skull in software, which will eventually be 3D printed, in order to have a more physiologically accurate model without risking damage to the original.

TECHNOLOGY 

skypirategirl:

I have posted this before, but this is a raccoon that I made out of foamcore. This was an assignment for my design foundations class where the goal was to create something using foamcore using cuts, scores, and folds without detaching any of the foamcore completely. 

I did a raccoon because I really love the web series The Brain Scoop and I especially love Soon Raccoon. So this is a bit of an homage to one of my favorite channels on YouTube. 

D’aw this is really cute :3 

Also are you f’real this is out of one piece of foamcore?!

Extinct crocodile, Leidyosuchus wilsoni, from Fossil Lake, WY. Can you imagine crocodilians in Wyoming today?! You bet your buckets they were there during the Eocene, 54.8-33.7mya. For more tidbits on this insanely ancient reptilian group, check out last week’s video-o-o-o-hey!  (at The Field Museum)

Extinct crocodile, Leidyosuchus wilsoni, from Fossil Lake, WY. Can you imagine crocodilians in Wyoming today?! You bet your buckets they were there during the Eocene, 54.8-33.7mya. For more tidbits on this insanely ancient reptilian group, check out last week’s video-o-o-o-hey!  (at The Field Museum)

#AttenboroughWeek starts April 21st! 

The BBC is celebrating the life and work of Sir David Attenborough all next week with commemorative video releases and encouraging dialogue about his extensive life’s work. I participated in a video retelling my favorite Attenborough moment that was uploaded to EarthUnplugged today. 

Sir David’s documentary legacy has been incredibly influential to me. Watching the Planet Earth series was the first time I ever felt a personal connection to and responsibility for this planet we share. I believe strongly in the power of community, shared knowledge, and the desire to work towards better environmental health, and we can do that if we choose to embody the respect for our world that David speaks to regularly. 

What is your favorite David Attenborough moment!?

Presley for President: Emily Graslie Impressions

You might remember Presley from last year’s VidCon EDU panel where she made John Green (and, well, all of us) get a little misty-eyed after saying, as a home-schooled student, she felt as though we were her favorite teachers. Last night she uploaded this video where she did some wildly accurate impersonations of yours truly - I seriously died laughing.

Sometimes I forget how big of a potential influence my videos may have on others; this sort of thing is the ultimate encouraging reminder to stay dedicated to my mission of creating educational content for long as I live. 

Icaronycteris index - extinct echolocating species of bat from the Eocene, about 54.8 million years ago. This is one of the oldest and most complete bat fossils known to science. It’s incredible that these prehistoric flittermice have been around for so long, having shown up 11 million years after the dinosaurs were wiped out. (at The Field Museum)

Icaronycteris index - extinct echolocating species of bat from the Eocene, about 54.8 million years ago. This is one of the oldest and most complete bat fossils known to science. It’s incredible that these prehistoric flittermice have been around for so long, having shown up 11 million years after the dinosaurs were wiped out. (at The Field Museum)

The rainbow scarab, (Phanaeus vindex). These dung beetles are found throughout the United States and are indicators of high-quality ecosystems because they are typically only found in those which are healthy.
All dung beetles play a significant role in their environments as natural sanitation crews; utilizing the refuse of others for subsistence not only cleans up the landscape but also reduces the number of pests and flies attracted to such. Rainbow scarabs apparently prefer swine and opossum dung heavily over that of raccoon and - yuck - horses…. but human dung is their favorite. Mmm. 
More~

The rainbow scarab, (Phanaeus vindex). These dung beetles are found throughout the United States and are indicators of high-quality ecosystems because they are typically only found in those which are healthy.

All dung beetles play a significant role in their environments as natural sanitation crews; utilizing the refuse of others for subsistence not only cleans up the landscape but also reduces the number of pests and flies attracted to such. Rainbow scarabs apparently prefer swine and opossum dung heavily over that of raccoon and - yuck - horses…. but human dung is their favorite. Mmm. 

More~

thefaceofyoutube:

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derp

Tags: nerp nerp

The Brain Scoop:
Crocodiles vs. Alligators 

The order Crocodilia belongs to an ancient group of reptiles that began evolving 83.5 million years ago. To think that such animals can exist largely unchanged for literally millions of years is fascinating and humbling; it’s remarkable to think that such lifeforms can exist within changing environments and continue to persevere. 

This episode was produced, filmed, and edited by Tom McNamara, a new addition to The Brain Scoop’s team. We’re thrilled to have him working with us! He didn’t even pay me much to say that.

Scarabaeinae - the true dung beetles. Ancient Egyptians associated these scarabs with birth and renewal. Images depict the god of the rising sun, Khepri, as a dung beetle, rolling the sun over the horizon in the morning and chasing it back to darkness every night.  (at The Field Museum)

Scarabaeinae - the true dung beetles. Ancient Egyptians associated these scarabs with birth and renewal. Images depict the god of the rising sun, Khepri, as a dung beetle, rolling the sun over the horizon in the morning and chasing it back to darkness every night. (at The Field Museum)

Giant girdled lizard (Cordylus giganteus), the sungazer, largest of the spiny lizards. This species is considered vulnerable by the IUCN, its numbers threatened by habitat loss and a high demand in the exotic pet trade. They are ovoviviparous - giving ‘live’ birth to one or two young only once every 2-3 years. They also breathe fire (citation needed).  (at The Field Museum)

Giant girdled lizard (Cordylus giganteus), the sungazer, largest of the spiny lizards. This species is considered vulnerable by the IUCN, its numbers threatened by habitat loss and a high demand in the exotic pet trade. They are ovoviviparous - giving ‘live’ birth to one or two young only once every 2-3 years. They also breathe fire (citation needed). (at The Field Museum)

weavercat asked: Hi there Emily! Um, I have a little question for you. I am a BFA working on a minor in Biology. I recently learned that my university (CSU-Pueblo) used to have a little museum in the first floor of our Bio. building. It was moved off into a 12' x 8' closest of the taxonomy room about 15 years ago when the first floor museum became classrooms. I'm working with a professor here to organize it but, it's daunting and we're in low spirits. What's the point if all our hard work if no one will see it?

This is both great, and very sad. Your question what’s the point in all our hard work if no one will see it? is the sort of sentiment that results in so many collections and archives falling into states of disrepair and neglect - but I totally understand your feelings because for a very long time I asked myself the same about the Philip L. Wright Zoological Museum. When I realized I couldn’t get people on campus to care enough to stop by and see the museum, I started a blog. (spoiler alert: it was this blog)

I will say that if you dedicate your time to this place - to organizing the specimens and working towards the ultimate goal that someday they will be seen - your work will pay off. You will begin to feel a personal investment in the collection. You will stumble across an item that sparks an interest you didn’t realize you had, and in the dark of that little closet you will feel an unusual connection to this item. You will begin learning about not only the history of the specimens but also what they represent: the diversity of our natural world. You’ll go to a party and someone will ask you what you’ve been up to and you won’t be able to find the words to express that you’re invested in an ongoing relationship with dead things. You will inexplicably feel a little bit of outrage when someone flippantly remarks that you are wasting your time.

You’ll realize that maybe, if you want to share this with others, maybe it’s on your shoulders. Maybe you don’t want to shoulder that responsibility and I certainly wouldn’t blame you - but maybe you’ll help inspire a feeling of ownership in another person near you. Maybe your hard work will eventually pay off and some day in the future that collection can meet its full research potential when we as a society can agree that museums are worth having in dedicated spaces with the resources they require to spread that feeling of ownership to more than just you and me. And maybe we can look back on all of this in a few decades and laugh at how hard we had to work together in order to make it all happen.