I keep comparing NMNH to AMNH, because I just can’t help it. I’m at AMNH probably about once a month, so I just know it well. Their fossils of vertebrate origins, dinosaurs, marine reptiles, extinct mammals, and animal relatives are truly amazing. I bet they also have a dandy invertebrate fossil collection, but they don’t display it. What a dream it would be to plumb the depths of that museum, open some drawers. Anyway, NMNH doesn’t actually have that many dinosaurs, so guess what that means? Inverts ahoy! Ammonites make the prettiest fossils, I must say.
I’m so glad there’s a hand in here for scale, even if it does belong to Bruce Springsteen circa 1984.
I love this action painting of ammonites getting chomped by a mosasaur.
In addition to going to the Natural History Museum, I also went to the National Zoo! Obligatory panda photo:
The amazing thing is that the National Zoo has a wonderful building devoted to invertebrates. The building is near the komodo dragon, which is also awesome, by the way. All sorts of cool invertebrates are on display in the building including insects, corals, echinoderms, etc, and mollusks, naturally. There were a bunch of nautiluses and one lone cuttlefish together in one tank.
And a Pacific Giant Octopus in another tank, who made a run for it as soon as the camera came out. How cool! I was not expecting mollusks at the zoo; what a bonus. DC loves mollusks!
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I’m back from epic holiday travels, where I spent some amount of time in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. I drove through five of those states on the same day, in fact.
I was so fortunate during this time to visit two aquariums! I have been to both before, but I hadn’t been to the National Aquarium in Baltimore since I was but a wee lass, and I visited the New England Aquarium several times in childhood and again as an undergrad.
First up was the National Aquarium. I love that it has this big awesome tank with rays and sharks and a three-legged sea turtle hanging out in it. Very mesmerizing. As for mollusks, they had a young-ish Pacific Giant Octopus and many an unlabeled snail-type creature. I was rather pleased with myself that I correctly identified the octopus as “rather small” when the explainer standing by told me it was indeed a young ‘un. There were also chambered nautiluses hovering ominously.
The most alarming and new-to-me thing I saw there was the sea robin. Sea robins have these spines that have separated from the pectoral fins to become creepy leg-like appendages. It was…Das Unheimliche. Watch the video, if you dare.
The other cool invertebrate thing at the National Aquarium was the jellyfish exhibit. I’ve seen jellyfish exhibits before, at the Monterey Bay Aquarium and at the aquarium in the Mall of America (yes I went to the Mall of America; no judging), but I think this is the first time I’ve seen Upside Down Jellyfish. They are a lot of fun to watch, somehow.
Next up, my adventures at the New England Aquarium!
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Well, I’m posting during the day, but here’s a photo I took of a chambered nautilus at the New York Aquarium earlier this summer. They have them in a darkened tank with this red lighting, so photography was difficult for my feeble skills. What I came away with is like this nautilus’ indie synth pop album cover.
Now, for the links!
1. The big thing this week is definitely the Census of Marine Life. There’s a lot to dig into on their site, but I started with the incredible image gallery, and I loved the slide show in the Times. My favorite new-to-me creature is the Flamingo Tongue Snail.
(photo: Nick Hobgood)
2. This news blip cracked me up. I’m not sure why it’s newsworthy that a church blesses animals, but I do find the image of dogs, cats, and a snail “lining up” to be really funny. Here in NYC, the snail would have been totally cut in line by all the other animals for being too slow, and probably would gotten a lot of nasty insults slung its way.
3. Yucatan Octopus get its own origin seal. It’s like champagne, but for octopuses.
4. Expose a baby snail to platinum and it won’t grow an external shell (sometimes, under certain concentrations). This study has implications in how slugs may have evolved from their externally shelled ancestors.
5. Fossilized mollusk trafficking! Serious business.
6. I have a momentous birthday coming up next week. If you’re wondering what to get me, this porthole with pink tentacle is still in stock!
7. An octopus in captivity lays eggs! I sure hope they are successful in hatching them. What a treat for visitors at the Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre!
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