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Happy #AskACurator  Day! Experts representing more than 1,000 museums and cultural institutions worldwide are answering questions on Twitter. 

Ask about what it's like to work at a museum. Ask about the collections. Ask about their research and outreach. 

Curious about the +American Museum of Natural History? Two of their curators are on deck, starting at 1:30 PM EDT.

More about participating museums here:
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What can fossils teach us about ancient climate? Quite a bit, as you'll see in our Earth Bulletin about researchers investigating a dramatic spike in Earth's CO2 levels fifty-five million years ago. 

As the quantity of atmospheric CO2 climbed, so did global surface temperatures—about 5° to 9°C (9° to 16°F)—with warm conditions lasting approximately 170,000 years. Chemical analysis of fossils from this period is helping scientists understand how life on Earth was affected by this dramatic change, and will help determine strategies for coping with our rapidly changing climate today.

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Fifty-five million years ago atmospheric CO2 content increased, and the average global surface temperature rose 5 to 9°C (9° to 16°F). The Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) lasted upwards of 170,000 years, dramatically affecting life both on land and in the oceans. By documenting how this changed climate, plants, and animals, scientists can make predictions about how our current global warming event could impact life on Earth."
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Happy #FossilFriday ! In this Human Bulletin we visit Rusinga Island in Kenya's Lake Victoria, where paleontologist Will Harcourt-Smith is leading an effort to recreate the environments inhabited by early primates.

More than 18 million years ago, Rusinga Island was home to primitive apes of the genus Proconsul, an ancient primate relative of modern humans. Today, evidence from this fossil-rich area is helping an international team of scientists to re-create our ancestor’s ancient habitat, yielding surprising insights into this primitive animal’s ability to adapt to environmental change.
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This is how you prep a Smilodon fatalis skull for the CT scanner.

Paleontologists Z. Jack Tseng and Camille Grohe of the +American Museum of Natural History used layers of foam and cotton padding to hold the heavy cranium upright in the plastic tub. Once the bucket is placed in the scanner, the CT machine takes several hours to scan the fossil. Scientists will use the series of X-ray image "slices" to build virtual 3D models of the cranium for feeding simulations.

Algorithms from bite force studies of living carnivores identify how skulls respond to feeding stresses. Applying these calculations to models of extinct animals' skulls tells researchers about the eating habits of ancient carnivores.

Find out more about Dr. Tseng's work modeling feeding simulations in living and extinct carnivores:

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Is that a part an animal face??
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On November 12, 2014, the +European Space Agency, ESA's Rosetta spacecraft made orbit around Comet 67P, deploying the #Philae  lander to gather surface data. But mechanical failure prevented Philae from anchoring and it 'bounced' as it landed. Now partly in shadow, its solar panels couldn't fully recharge, and the unit eventually went to sleep.

Until today.

Philae "spoke" with its team for 85 seconds, the first contact since beginning its 7-month hibernation.   
Breaking news! #wakeupPhilae  
Tweet Rosetta's lander Philae is out of hibernation! The signals were received at ESA's European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt at 22:28 CEST on 13 June. More than 300 data packets have been analysed by the teams at the Lander Control Center at the German Aerospace Center (DLR). "Philae is doing very well: It has an operating temperature of -35ºC and has 24 Watts available," explains DLR Philae Project Manager Dr. Stephan Ulamec. "The lande...
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The perils of hasty weekend posting are many and varied. Time-travel-implying date has been amended.
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MESSENGER is scheduled to plunge to its doom today. Its fuel tank empty, the first spacecraft to orbit Mercury will end its 4-year mission by crashing into the planet's surface. The impact is expected to happen at 3:26:02 pm EDT.

MESSENGER's first flyby of Mercury in January 2008 was historic. The last time a spacecraft visited—Mariner 10—was in 1975, and it only mapped half the planet. MESSENGER began its mission by sending back a complete picture of Mercury, shedding light on its geological history. Over the next four years, the mission returned much more than images. Its data on the planet's core, magnetic field, composition, and other attributes is helping scientists answer pressing questions about the evolution of the terrestrial planets and even the Solar System itself.

In this documentary from the Bulletins archives, take a step back in time to the beginning of MESSENGER's mission, and watch the science team react as the orbiter's first images of Mercury roll in. 

More about the anticipated impact location here: 
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Fire Ants Raise Brazilian Butterflies

Fire ants are typically regarded as invasive pests. But in this Bio Bulletin, we see them from a butterfly's perspective—as a dedicated babysitter.

Butterfly species in Asia, North America, Europe, and South America are known to enlist the help of certain ant species to care for their eggs and larvae, with the larvae repaying their benefactors by producing a nourishing nectar. Recently, a study in Current Biology analyzed the nectar's composition, discovering that the larvae are serving up a chemical cocktail that subtly alters the ants' behavior to make them better caretakers, stimulating them to be more protective of their wards and more aggressive toward predators.

Life History of Aricoris propitia (Lepidoptera: Riodinidae)—A Myrmecophilous Butterfly Obligately Associated with Fire Ants:

Lycaenid Caterpillar Secretions Manipulate Attendant Ant Behavior:
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This is amazing!
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Happy Anniversary, Curiosity!

Three years ago today, Curiosity touched down on Mars's surface, becoming the third rover to visit the Red Planet. It carries a hefty load of science instruments for analyzing the Martian atmosphere and soil, as well as seventeen cameras that are capturing the rocky landscape in unprecedented detail: 

But as breathtaking as these images are, Curiosity's scientific discoveries are equally impressive. Soil sampled from multiple locations in and around the rover's landing site, Gale Crater, are helping scientists piece together the puzzle of Mars's water—how much there might have been, where it may have flowed, and whether any liquid water remains today.

NASA will launch its next mission to Mars—InSight—in 2016, but Curiosity's mission is far from over, as it continues its investigation of previously unexplored surface features. Catch the latest images and mission news here:
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Invasive fire ants are firmly established in the southeastern United States, defending their territory with venomous stings. But a more recent invasive species, the tawny crazy ant, appears impervious to fire ants' toxic attacks, producing its own antidote to fire ant venom.

In Chemical Defense Aids "Crazy Ant" Invasion, Science Bulletins looks at a study that pinpointed crazy ants' defensive strategy, which is furthering their domination over fire ants and native North American insects.

But crazy ants aren't invulnerable. According to a new study, the seemingly unstoppable invaders are susceptible to  a new genus of fungal parasite, which appears to only affect crazy ants. Robert Plowes, the lead author on the study, says, "This is the first step towards developing a suite of biological control agents that will give us any chance of keeping ant numbers low in the long run."

Read more about the study here:

Journal of Invertebrate Pathology: Myrmecomorba nylanderiae gen. et sp. nov., a microsporidian parasite of the tawny crazy ant Nylanderia fulva
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Skull X-Rays Reconstruct Extinct Carnivores’ Bite

Our latest Bio Bulletin looks at how scientists are using virtual models from CT scans to decipher ancient animals' diets.

Some carnivores eat only meat, while others are more omnivorous. To understand how and when these differences in carnivore feeding may have evolved, Museum paleontologists captured X-ray scans of skulls from living and extinct species. They reconstructed the skulls as virtual models and designed feeding simulations, to test the relationship between skull biomechanics and diet, shedding light on the evolution of feeding specializations and their distribution in the carnivore family tree.

Science Bulletins is a production of the National Center for Science Literacy, Education, and Technology (NCSLET), part of the Department of Education at the +American Museum of Natural History.

Related Links

The Royal Society Publishing: An integrative method for testing form–function linkages and reconstructed evolutionary pathways of masticatory specialization

PLoS ONE: Are Cranial Biomechanical Simulation Data Linked to Known Diets in Extant Taxa? A Method for Applying Diet-Biomechanics Linkage Models to Infer Feeding Capability of Extinct Species

Building Better Skull Models for Ancient Carnivores

Fieldwork Journal—Reporting from Inner Mongolia  
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Happy International Asteroid Day!

Collisions between space objects are a vital part of the evolution of our Solar System. Most of Earth's impact craters have been wiped away due to plate tectonics, but evidence of such cosmic catastrophes, such as Arizona's 50,000-year-old meteor crater, do remain.

When is Earth due for another major blast?

Meet the professional and amateur astronomers who may be the first to know: first at LINEAR, a near-earth asteroid detection facility in New Mexico, and then at the Smithsonian's Minor Planet Center, where orbits of near-earth objects are tracked for possible hits and misses.

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C e.6you

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Motyxia sequoiae, the only known bioluminescent millipede, demonstrates the wavelike locomotion that is unique to millipedes. Known as a metachronal gait, movement ripples through the legs in a wave that travels the length of the millipede's body from tail to head.

The video was recorded under ultraviolet light.

Learn more about Mytoxia and bioluminescence here:

Image credit: Paul Marek, Entomology Department, Virginia Tech and Owen Bissell, Fast + Light Productions, San Francisco, CA (
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Current research about the natural world.

Explore the natural world with Science Bulletins; our documentary Feature Stories, Data Visualizations, and News updates focus on recent discoveries and new technologies in astrophysics, Earth science, biodiversity, and human health and evolution.

Astro Bulletin highlights the scientists, observatories, and technologies that advance our knowledge of the cosmos.

Earth Bulletin reports recent events and discoveries related to Earth's land, oceans, and atmosphere.

Bio Bulletin covers the ever-evolving diversity of life on Earth and our human footprint on the biosphere. 

Human Bulletin explores the science of our species, covering fossil and genetic research on human evolution as well as studies on human health and biology.