Corpse Flower Watch: Day 11

7.11.10 Amorphophallus titanum
See a full set of photos of the
Corpse Flower’s growth here.

Today, Lois measures 63.5 inches. Her vertical growth has slowed to only 1.5 inches since yesterday, but at her base she has grown 4 inches in circumference. When we first measured her circumference last week, it was 14 inches; today, it’s 34 inches.

This implies that her vertical growth is almost over and that Lois’ bloom could open anytime in the next 24 hours, most likely sometime this afternoon.

Date Height
July 1 31″
July 2 34″
July 3 37″
July 4 41″
July 5 45″
July 6 49″
July 7 53″
July 8 57″
July 9 60″
July10 62″
July11 63.5″

100 Years – 100 Objects: Aluminum Wire Car

The Houston Museum of Natural Science was founded in 1909 - meaning that the curators of the Houston Museum of Natural Science have been collecting and preserving natural and cultural treasures for a hundred years now. For this yearlong series, our current curators have chosen one hundred exceptional objects from the Museum’s immense storehouse of specimens and artifacts—one for each year of our history. Check back here frequently to learn more about this diverse selection of behind-the-scenes curiosities—we will post the image and description of a new object every few days.

This description is from Dirk, the museum’s curator of anthropology. He’s chosen a selection of objects that represent human cultures throughout time and around the world, that we’ll be sharing here – and on hmns.org – throughout the year.

How do African children play? One answer is: with toys they make themselves. The aluminum–wire car is but one of many shapes rendered in this material. This particular car was made in 1999 in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This car illustrates the creative genius of African children, who make these kinds of toys by recycling wire and tires. It shows the great flexibility and adaptability that makes humans such interesting subjects to study.

You can see more images of this fascinating artifact – as well as the others we’ve posted so far this year - in the photo gallery on hmns.org.

100 Years – 100 Objects: Queen Alexandra’s Birdwing

The Houston Museum of Natural Science was founded in 1909 - meaning that the curators of the Houston Museum of Natural Science have been collecting and preserving natural and cultural treasures for a hundred years now. For this yearlong series, our current curators have chosen one hundred exceptional objects from the Museum’s immense storehouse of specimens and artifacts—one for each year of our history. Check back here frequently to learn more about this diverse selection of behind-the-scenes curiosities—we will post the image and description of a new object every few days.

This description is from Nancy, the museum’s director of the Cockrell Butterfly Center and curator of entomology. She’s chosen a selection of objects that represent the rarest and most interesting insects in the Museum’s collections, that we’ll be sharing here – and on hmns.org – throughout the year.

A close-up of a Queen Alexandra’s
Birdwing; see the entire butterfly and
close-ups in the photo gallery on hmns.org.

Female Queen Alexandra’s Birdwings are the largest butterflies in the world, reaching wingspans of more than 14 inches. Males are smaller, but more beautifully colored than females:  they have iridescent green and blue markings and a bright yellow abdomen, while females have brown wings with white markings and a cream-colored abdomen. Birdwings are members of the swallowtail family (Papilionidae).

The Queen Alexandra’s Birdwing is highly endangered, and along with several other birdwing butterfly species, was placed on the Appendix I CITES list in 1977 (collecting or trading wild-caught CITES I species is prohibited by international agreement).  Our specimens were acquired before they were officially protected.  Today, the museum would be unable to obtain this or several of the other birdwing species we have in our insect collection.

Learn more about butterflies and their relatives in a visit to the new Brown Hall of Entomology, a part of the Cockrell Butterfly Center– a living, walk-through rainforest at the Houston Museum of Natural Science.

You can see larger and more detailed images of this rare specimen – as well as the others we’ve posted so far this year – in the photo gallery on hmns.org.

100 Years – 100 Objects: Blue-billed Curassow

The Houston Museum of Natural Science was founded in 1909 - meaning that the curators of the Houston Museum of Natural Science have been collecting and preserving natural and cultural treasures for a hundred years now. For this yearlong series, our current curators have chosen one hundred exceptional objects from the Museum’s immense storehouse of specimens and artifacts—one for each year of our history. Check back here frequently to learn more about this diverse selection of behind-the-scenes curiosities—we will post the image and description of a new object every few days.

The endangered Blue-billed Curassow,
one of the 100 objects we’ve chosen to
celebrate the Museum’s centennial.

This description is from Dan, the museum’s curator of vertebrate zoology. He’s chosen a selection of objects that represent the most fascinating animals in the Museum’s collections, that we’ll be sharing here – and on hmns.org – throughout the year.

The Blue-billed Curassow (Crax alberti) is a large bird that is endemic to the mountain valleys of northern Colombia.  The tasty flesh of this turkey-sized bird, combined with destruction of the rainforests it thrives in represent the primary threats to this and other members of the Cracid family.

This species is considered Critically Endangered by the Cracid Specialist Group, as its global population certainly can not exceed 2000 individuals.  It is certainly among the rarest of vertebrates in the collection.

You can see larger and more detailed images of this rare specimen – as well as the others we’ve posted so far this year – in the photo gallery on hmns.org.