About Amy P

Amy is the Director of Adult Education at HMNS.

Scientist who discovered oldest skeleton in the Americas comes to Houston November 12

The controversy over who settled the Americas, and when, has been raging for some time. Combatants have lined up on every side to stake intellectual territory. Every point is debated. For historians, the use of the word “America” is even problematic. 

However, as human remains begin to surface and DNA studies are undertaken, new knowledge is leading us to new understanding. Tomorrow’s history books are being written based on new findings made by marine archaeologists in Mexico.

FIRST AMERICANS

 

FIRST AMERICANS

The complete, well preserved skeleton of a young girl from over 12,000 years ago was found in an underwater cave on the Yucatan Peninsula. The chamber where her remains were found is now known as “Hoya Negro,” or Black Hole. Nicknamed “Princess Naia,” her remains are among the oldest yet found in the Americas. Her discovery is reshaping our understanding of human migration into the Western Hemisphere.

Princess Naia’s discovery is undoubtable one of the most significant and exciting finds in for those researching Paleoamericans.

Marine archaeologist Dr. Dominique Rissolo, the expedition coordinator, will announce the latest scientific findings from the project at the Houston Museum of Natural Science on November 12. This lecture is cosponsored by AIA – Houston. Reserve your advance tickets today, available online and at 713.639.4629—you’ll be able to say you heart it in Houston before it is featured in the January issue of National Geographic Magazine.

Dr. Dominique Rissolo rappels into a Mayan cenote. Photo Credit: Sam Meacham

Learn more about Princess Naia in “Most Complete Ice Age Skeleton Helps Solve Mystery of First Americans, Ancient bones provide glimpse of the New World’s earliest inhabitants” by Glenn Hodges for National Geographic, May 15, 2014.

 

Archaeology in Houston? Uncovering Memorial Park’s History

Did you know that the US Army set up camp on the banks of Buffalo Bayou — where Houston’s beloved Memorial Park is today?

Memorial park Archaeology 1

Yes, Camp Logan was built as an emergency training center in World War I built in 1917 with the capacity to house 44,899 troops at a time.

“As you walk or run through Memorial Park now, it’s hard to imagine a huge sprawling military base on its grounds, but historic photographs of the camp depict row after row of tens on raised wooden platforms along graded streets near mess halls and latrines – and many of those foundation features are still visible in the wooded areas of the park,” comments historian and archaeologist Louis Aulbach.

The streets in Camp Logan were unpaved or surfaced with oyster shell or cinders. A 600-ton deep water well south of Washington Avenue serviced the camp, producing over 1 million gallons of water per day.

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“The thing that surprises us is how little you will hear or read about Camp Logan in any of the books dedicated to Houston’s history,” says Linda Gorski of Houston Archeological Society, “Most of the residents of River Oaks have no idea that Camp Logan extended across Buffalo Bayou and that horses and men paraded on grounds that are now their front yards.”

Little was recorded about Camp Logan so historians and archaeologists Louis Aulbach and Linda Gorski have been piecing the history back together from archaeology work conducted in Memorial Park, postcards from soldiers and maps.

They will present this unique story of Houston history at the Houston Museum of Natural Science on November 4 at 6:30 p.m. This lecture is sponsored by the Houston Archeological Society. Following the lecture Aulbach and Gorski will sign copies of their newly published book “Camp Logan: Houston, Texas 1917-1919.”

This presentation will be a tribute to the soldiers who trained at Camp Logan—including nine Medal of Honor winners and seventy one African American soldiers who won the French Croix de Guerre. Visit www.hmns.org/lectures for more information. Advance tickets are available online and at 713.639.4629.

Memorial park Archaeology 3

Historians Linda Gorski and Louis Aulbach on Buffalo Bayou near Memorial Park.

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.

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.”

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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: