On the Fifth Day of HMNS…We Like to Move It, Move It

I don’t know what it is about a sea of dancing lemurs – but it just makes me smile. A sea of dancing lemurs on a giant screen – well, that just can’t be beat.

On the Fifth Day of HMNS, move it, move it with the whole zany group in Madagascar 2: Escape 2 Africa in the Wortham IMAX Theatre at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. Check out a preview in the video below.


There’s always a lot happening at the Houston Museum of Natural Science – especially during the holiday season. Today’s post is just one of the 12 ideas for fabulous family fun we’ve put together for you (it’s a take-off of everyone’s favorite holiday classic, The 12 Days of Christmas  - you know, ”fiiiiiiiiiive gol-den riiiiiiiings!”) We’ll be sharing the possibilities here every day until Christmas Eve. Best of all, most are activities that last past the holiday season – some, year round. You can also check them all out now at the spiffy new 12 Days of HMNS web site.

Check out the first four days of HMNS:
On the first day of HMNS, explore The Birth of Christianity.
On the second day of HMNS, shop for Sci-tastic gifts.
On the third day of HMNS, meet Prancer the reindeer.
On the fourth day of HMNS, discover the making of The Star of Bethlehem.

Science Doesn’t Sleep (5.6.08)

rock climbing
Creative Commons License photo credit: kumon

So here’s what went down since you logged off.

They’re probably going to need some fungi: prospectors are going wild for uranium all along the Grand Canyon. (Via)

But hopefully not chrytid fungi - it’s destroying frog populations worldwide. Scientists are studying amphibians in Madagascar to try and save them.

Sometimes, it pays to be dumb: ironically, scientists prove that smarter isn’t necessarily better, when it comes to survival.

We don’t even have robot maids yet – but scientists at Duke University have taken the first steps towards creating autonomous robot surgeons.

If you haven’t taken a crack at curating yet – your time is running out. Click! A Crowd-Curated Exhibition gives you a say in what The Brooklyn Museum puts on display – but only through May 23. It’s fun! So head over and make your opinion count.

Monkey business

 When asked their opinion about human evolution, some people will answer: “I cannot accept that we came from monkeys.”

We should all agree with that sentiment. Humans are no monkeys. But we are part of the Primate Order.

In an earlier blog  I wrote about Carl von Linné to  and his way of classifying plants and animals using observable traits.

Under the Linnaean system, human beings belong to the Primate Order. Within this Order, there are two sub-units, referred to as suborders: the Prosimians and the Anthropoids.

Fans of the movie Madagascar ought to be very familiar with Prosimians, a family that includes lemurs and lorises.

Anthropoids include New World monkeys (such as marmosets, tamarins, capuchin monkeys, howler  and spider monkeys) as well as Old World monkeys, apes and humans (such as baboons, colobuses, gibbons, siamangs, orangutans, gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos and humans).

All of the animals just mentioned are still with us. Each one of these is subject to evolutionary pressures and some (like us humans) are flourishing and others (like chimps and gorillas) face ever-diminishing natural habitats.

But this all relates to the present. How does it apply to the past?

Together with gibbons, siamangs, orangutans, gorillas, chimpanzees and bonobos, humans are members of the Superfamily of Hominoidea (a.k.a. apes and humans). The classification of humans and apes into this Superfamily reflects a common ancestor in a distant past.

Moreover, recent DNA studies comparing human genetic information with that of other non-human primates has shown a high degree of genetic similarity. For example, DNA from a modern human is close to 99% identical to that of contemporary chimpanzees. This further supports descent from a common ancestor.

Next time you hear a remark about humans evolving from monkeys, you can set the record straight: one species did not come from the other. Humans and apes simply share a common ancestor.

No monkey business required.