Howdy, Y’all! Meet some cool critters in the new Farish Hall of Texas Wildlife

Looking for a fun way to explore the new Farish Hall of Texas Wildlife?! Check out our Farish Hall of Texas Wildlife Scavenger Hunt!

Whether you’re bringing students on a field trip or you’re just a kid at heart, visitors to the new hall will be astounded by the amazing natural diversity on display. With over 200 species on display and over 400 specimens, this is the most species-rich collection of Texas wildlife in the world!

Dan Brooks, HMNS Curator of Vertebrate Zoology in the new Farish Hall of Texas Wildlife.

Want to learn more about the Farish Hall of Texas Wildlife at HMNS?

Check out this video from My Fox Houston:

FOX 26 News | MyFoxHouston

 

 

 

Quick, To The Bat Cave: Four Reasons to Celebrate Bats This Week

This week is an important week for the winged mammals!

  1. The Rafinesque’s big-eared bat is making its debut in the new Farish Hall of Texas Wildlife at HMNS (Hint: you have to look up to find it)
  2. Houston’s Batgirl Dr. Cullen Geiselman is speaking at HMNS about what makes bats so important on October 27 (More info below.)
  3. Halloween is the battiest holiday around!
  4. An epic move to help conserve the world’s largest bat colony will also take place on October 31.

Over 15 million Mexican free-tailed bats make their summer home at the Bracken Cave outside of San Antonio—making Bracken Cave the largest concentration of mammals on Earth.

Bracken Cave Bat Emergence video: 

The City of San Antonio, Bat Conservation International (BatCon) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) partnered to protect the habitat Bracken’s bats have used for thousands of years from land developers. Read more about the conservation plan from the San Antonio News and BatCon.

Dr. Cullen Geiselman has studied various species of bats all over the world. She is Vice Chair of the BatCon board and a former staff member. To help celebrate these mosquito-eating machines, join us on Monday at HMNS for Dr. Geiselman’s bat talk.

Amy Bats

Bats: The Night Shift
Cullen Geiselman, Ph.D., Bat Conservation International
Houston Museum of Natural Science, Wortham Giant Screen Theatre
Monday, October 27, 6:30 p.m.

Bats have radiated into almost every habitat on Earth, bringing with them their important ecological responsibilities. Their great diversity of feeding strategies is a testament to the adaptability of these nocturnal animals and reveals their important roles they play within ecosystems. Bat researcher Dr. Cullen Geiselman will discuss the great variety of bats, including the 38 species in Texas of which eight call Houston home.

For more information and tickets, visit www.hmns.org/lectures.

This lecture is cosponsored by Rice University’s Glasscock School of Continuing Studies, and included in their course Biodiversity: A Wildlife and Ecosystem Necessity.

Learn more about Dr. Geiselman in “Adventures of Cullen Geiselman, Batgirl” by Lisa Gray, Houston Chronicle, July 26.

STEM & GEMS: Stephanie Thompson Swims With Sharks

Editor’s Note: As part of our annual GEMS (Girls Exploring Math and Science) program, we conduct interviews with women who have pursued careers in science, technology, engineering, or math. This week, we’re featuring Stephanie Thompson, Animal Care Technician at HMNS

Make sure you mark your calendars for this year’s GEMS event, February 21, 2015!

GEMS blog October

Stephanie Thompson with a Great White Shark model in HMNS’ SHARK! Touch Tank Experience

HMNS: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Thompson: 
I have always wanted to become a marine biologist and work with sharks. I got my chance to really sink into marine biology when I started working with Texas A&M Galveston in its efforts to help in the conservation and rehabilitation of sea turtles in the Gulf of Mexico back in 2011. I got the job of Animal Care Technician at HMNS in 2014 then graduated with my degree in Marine Biology.  Now I finally have my opportunity to work with sharks.

HMNS: How old were you when you first become interested in science?
Thompson: I was five years old when I realized I wanted to be a biologist.

HMNS: Was there a specific person or event that inspired you when you were younger?
Thompson: My parents took me to a beach in NC. We went to a pier and someone caught a shark and let me pet it. Since then I have always wanted to work with sharks and the ocean!

HMNS: What was your favorite project when you were in school?
Thompson: My favorite project in school was my fish collection project in ichthyology. I had to go out to various lakes and beaches in the eastern part of Texas and collect various species of fish throughout the semester. At one point I got to go out into the middle of the Gulf of Mexico for my collection and was accompanied by a pod of dolphins.

HMNS: What is your current job? How does this relate to science/technology/engineering/math?
Thompson: I take care of the live animals at HMNS. This means I feed them, clean their homes, and care for them if they are sick.

HMNS: What’s the best part of your job?
Thompson: The best part of my job is taking care of the sharks[in SHARK! The Touch Tank Experience]! It’s a dream come true.

HMNS: What do you like to do in your spare time?
Thompson: In my spare time I like to paint, work on projects in my mom’s wood shop, and spend time with family and friends!

HMNS: What advice would you give to girls interested in pursuing a STEM career? 
Thompson: Never give up on dreams! It may be a long and difficult road but if it is something you really want to do then don’t let anyone or anything hold you back.

HMNS: Why do you think it’s important for girls to have access to an event like Girls Exploring Math and Science (GEMS)?
Thompson: It is important because the more girls who have access to these kinds of events means that it is likelier that these girls will be interested these fields in the future. There is not enough women in these industries right now, meaning that it is dominated by men. If more women became engineers, biologists, or physicists then the workforce would have different perspectives. With more women in these fields we could have better technologies and make more discoveries about the world around us!

GEMS is always looking for organizations to share enthusiasm about science and math with young students. If you are part of an organization that would like to participate in GEMS, applications are available here!

 

 

Empathy, Ethics and Bonobos: Distinguished Lecture Tonight at HMNS

Why do we have empathy? Why do we rush to another’s aid? Why do we put our arm around others to support them? 

Empathy comes naturally to a great variety of animals, including humans. In his work with monkeys, apes and elephants, anthropologist Dr. Frans de Waal has found many cases of one individual coming to another’s aid in a fight, putting an arm around a previous victim of attack, or other emotional responses to the distress of others. By studying social behavior in animals — such as bonding and alliances, expressions of consolation, conflict resolution, and a sense of fairness — de Waal demonstrates that animals and humans are preprogrammed to reach out, questioning the assumption that humans are inherently selfish.

On October 21, Dr. Frans de Waal will be at the Houston Museum of Natural Science to explore empathy’s survival value in evolution, and how it can help to build a more just society based on a more accurate view of human nature. He will suggest that religion may add to a moral society, but as an addition and way to enforce good behavior rather than as the source of good behavior.

Following the lecture at HMNS, Dr. de Waal will sign copies of his latest book, The Bonobo and the Atheist.

Ethics Blog

Dr. Frans de Waal is a Dutch/American behavioral biologist known for his work on the social intelligence of primates. His first book, Chimpanzee Politics, compared the schmoozing and scheming of chimpanzees involved in power struggles with that of human politicians. Ever since, de Waal has drawn parallels between primate and human behavior, from peacemaking and morality to culture. His latest book is The Bonobo and the Atheist. De Waal is professor of psychology at Emory University and director of the Living Links Center at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, in Atlanta, Georgia. He is a member of the (US) National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences. In 2007, he was selected by Time as one of “The Worlds’ 100 Most Influential People Today,” and in 2011 by Discover as one of the “47 All Time Great Minds of Science.”

SONY DSC

Ethics without God? The Evolution of Morality and Empathy in the Primates
Frans de Waal, Ph.D.
Tuesday, October 21, 6:30 p.m.
Houston Museum of Natural Science
Co-Sponsored by The Leakey FoundationClick here for tickets.

For more from Dr. Frans da Wall, check out his TED talk: