HMNS Weekly Happenings

Lecture – More than Genes: Predators, Parasites and Partners of the Human Body by Rob Dunn

2006 Frank Collins Leishmaniasis is transmitted by the bite of infected female phlebotomine sandflies, injecting the infective stage (i.e., promastigotes) from their proboscis during blood meals.  Promastigotes that reach the puncture wound are phagocytized by macrophages ,and other types of mononuclear phagocytic cells, and inside these cells, transform into the tissue stage of the parasite (i.e., amastigotes), which multiply by simple division and proceed to infect other mononuclear phagocytic cells.  Parasite, host, and other factors affect whether the infection becomes symptomatic and whether cutaneous or visceral leishmaniasis results.  Sandflies become infected by ingesting infected cells during blood meals.  In sandflies, amastigotes transform into promastigotes, develop in the gut, (in the hindgut for leishmanial organisms in the Viannia subgenus; in the midgut for organisms in the Leishmania subgenus), and migrate to the proboscis. See PHIL 3400 for a diagram of this cycle.

2006
Frank Collins

A great deal of recent research has suggested that many modern health problems relate to recent changes in our gut microbes. As we have started to look at skin and the environment of our homes, it looks as though the changes in what we are exposed to and covered in externally may be equally as great.

 

We evolved in a wilderness of parasites, mutualists, and pathogens, but we no longer see ourselves as being part of nature and the broader community of life. In the name of progress and clean living, we scrub much of nature off our bodies; however, a host of species still cling to us and always will. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Join biologist and author Robert Dunn as we explore the influence these wild species have on our well-being and the world.

 

Dr. Robert Dunn is a biologist with the Department of Biology at North Carolina State University. His lab studies the species around us in our everyday lives, species we tend to think of us as well known. Most of those species are not well known and so there are many things to discover in your backyard, in your bedroom, or even on your roommate. Book signings of “The Wild Life of Our Bodies” and “Every Living Thing” following lecture.

 

This program is sponsored by The Leakey Foundation.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016 at 6:30pm

Tickets $18, Members $12

 

BTS – Mummies of the World: The Exhibition

shrunken-heads

 

Mummies of the World: The Exhibition presents a collection of mummies from Europe, South America and ancient Egypt-some 4,500 years old.

 

Go behind-the-scenes and learn about mummies and mummification through state-of-the-art multimedia, interactive stations and 3D animation, highlighting advances in the scientific methods used to study mummies, including computed tomography (CT), ancient DNA analysis and radiocarbon dating, all of which allows us to know who these mummified individuals were, where they came from and where they lived.

 

Among the mummies on display are the Vac Mummies, an entire mummified family from Hungary believed to have died from tuberculosis; the Burns Collection, a group of medical mummies used to teach anatomy in the early 19th century; an Egyptian priest named Nes-Hor who suffered from arthritis and a broken left hip; Egyptian animal mummies including a falcon, fish, dog and baby crocodile, many of which were deliberately preserved to accompany royals for eternity; and MUMAB, the first replication of Egyptian mummification done on a body in 2,800 years.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016 at 6:00pm

Members $22, Tickets $39

 

Take Two: Pocahontas

pocahontas

81 min. – Animation/Adventure/Drama
An English soldier and the daughter of an Algonquin chief share a romance when English colonists invade seventeenth-century Virginia.
 
 

 

Lecture – Applying Forensics to Archaeology by Andrew Shortland

egypt3

 

As an Egyptologist trained in geological sciences, Dr. Andrew Shortland became interested in applying scientific analysis to the identification and interpretation of material culture from the ancient and historical worlds. Today Shortland uses the latest technology to answer questions about valuable or historically important objects. Typically these involve queries about provenance, date, identification of past restoration or conservation—and even the detection of deliberate fakes and forgeries.

 

Using examples from his cases, Professor Shortland will describe a wide variety of different analytical techniques in his work including SEM-EDS, microprobe, XSRF, LA-ICPMS and optical microscopy.

 

Dr. Andrew Shortland is professor of archaeological science at Cranfield University in UK. He is Deputy Director of Cranfield Forensic Institute, where he runs a group that specializes in the application of scientific techniques to archaeological and forensic problems.

 

Tickets $18, Members $12

 

HMNS Weekly Update

Lecture – Fabergé Symposium – The Wonder of Fabergé

Faberge-1

 

November 4, 2016 at 6.30pm

Get Tickets Here

More than doubling in size since the 2013 Houston Fabergé Symposium, the McFerrin Collection now totals nearly 600 objects and will be displayed in its entirety for a limited time. Recent acquisitions focus on rare Imperial pieces with fascinating stories. Join us at the Houston Museum of Natural Science as renowned Fabergé researchers discuss the genius of Fabergé and his place in history as related to the royalties of Europe.

 

Lecture – Family Talk – Secrets of Ancient Games

 lewis_chessmen_23Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

 

 

Suggested for ages 6-12 and adults.

Cosponsored by the Archaeological Institute of America Houston Society.

Tickets $5

People all over the ancient world played games. Dr. Irving Finkel of the British Museum has decoded several ancient games. He will share how these games were played 5,000 years ago. An ancient game tournament will follow the presentation. You can try your hand at Senet, the Royal Game of Ur, Parcheesi and Go and Chess with 12th century Lewis chessmen.

 

World Trekkers: Ireland

trekkers

 

 

Friday, November 11, 2016 – 6:30 PM

Enjoy a chidren’s event featuring live entertainment, face painting, a balloon artist, crafts, activities and more. Bring your family to HMNS and you can travel the globe with World Trekkers! The perfect family outing, these events highlight a diverse set of cultures from around the world through food, entertainment, arts and crafts and more. This November we’re heading off to Ireland. But no need to pack your bags – HMNS brings the world to you with World Trekkers!

 

Lecture – More than Genes: Predators, Parasites and Partners of the Human Body by Rob Dunn

2006 Frank Collins Leishmaniasis is transmitted by the bite of infected female phlebotomine sandflies, injecting the infective stage (i.e., promastigotes) from their proboscis during blood meals.  Promastigotes that reach the puncture wound are phagocytized by macrophages ,and other types of mononuclear phagocytic cells, and inside these cells, transform into the tissue stage of the parasite (i.e., amastigotes), which multiply by simple division and proceed to infect other mononuclear phagocytic cells.  Parasite, host, and other factors affect whether the infection becomes symptomatic and whether cutaneous or visceral leishmaniasis results.  Sandflies become infected by ingesting infected cells during blood meals.  In sandflies, amastigotes transform into promastigotes, develop in the gut, (in the hindgut for leishmanial organisms in the Viannia subgenus; in the midgut for organisms in the Leishmania subgenus), and migrate to the proboscis. See PHIL 3400 for a diagram of this cycle.

2006
Frank Collins

 

Tickets $18, Members $12

 

A great deal of recent research has suggested that many modern health problems relate to recent changes in our gut microbes. As we have started to look at skin and the environment of our homes, it looks as though the changes in what we are exposed to and covered in externally may be equally as great.

 

We evolved in a wilderness of parasites, mutualists, and pathogens, but we no longer see ourselves as being part of nature and the broader community of life. In the name of progress and clean living, we scrub much of nature off our bodies; however, a host of species still cling to us and always will. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Join biologist and author Robert Dunn as we explore the influence these wild species have on our well-being and the world.

 

Dr. Robert Dunn is a biologist with the Department of Biology at North Carolina State University. His lab studies the species around us in our everyday lives, species we tend to think of us as well known. Most of those species are not well known and so there are many things to discover in your backyard, in your bedroom, or even on your roommate. Book signings of “The Wild Life of Our Bodies” and “Every Living Thing” following lecture.

 

This program is sponsored by The Leakey Foundation.

The Formation and Preservation of the Solnhofen Fossils

Our new Archaeopteryx exhibition has stunning complete fossils of fish, turtles, crocodiles, shrimp, sharks and much more, all from Solnhofen, Germany. In this blog, Dr. Bakker explains why Solnhofen produced and preserved so many spectacular, intact specimens.

The Mystery of Tropical Germany

From the first diggings in the late 1700’s,  Solnhofen presented a profound puzzle: Why was  Germany tropical in the Jurassic?

The fossil evidence was perplexing:

Fish
Amiopsis Lepidota

Big, long-lived reefs grow only in the tropics – how could northern Europe have supported the Solnhofen reef?

Large crocodiles thrive only in the warmest climate – how could giant sea-crocodiles flourish at Solnhofen?

Huge tree ferns today are emphatically warmth-loving plants – how could tropical ferns grow luxuriously at Solnhofen?

The mystery was world-wide. In the Jurassic, big crocodilians, tree ferns and reefs had spread all over Europe, Asia and North America. The tropical belt must have extended into Alaska and far south into Argentina.

Solnhofen was part of the proof that the Jurassic was one of the warmest periods in the history of life. Since the end of the Jurassic, on average Europe and North America suffered a gradual decrease in winter warmth.

Solnhofen – A Real Jurassic Park

Big-Budget movies have made the Jurassic Period  the most famous sector of geological time in our modern world. But in fact, the Jurassic was already world-renowned by the 1830’s. The first carnivorous dinosaurs known from good skeletons came from the Jurassic of Oxford. The first dinosaur tracks discovered in abundance were from the Jurassic of Massachusetts. The first complete skeletons of giant sea-reptiles were excavated from the Jurassic of southern England.

But no locale has gave finer fossils from the Jurassic than Solnhofen, Germany. Beginning in the mid 1700’s, Solnhofen has provided a never-ending stream of petrified animals and plants.

Fish
Liodesmus Sprattiformis

The exquisite skeletons lie in lithographic limestone, a rock that records not only bones but  impressions of skin and other soft tissue. Vertebrate bodies are preserved in exceptional detail. The pterodactyls at Solnhofen often have fossilized wing membranes. Crustaceans and mollusks are often fossilized as complete bodies. Even the most delicate  parts of squid – tentacles, eyes, and ink sacs – are recorded as high-resolution impressions.

Solnhofen lithographic stone has captured a more complete picture of Jurassic life than any other kind of sediment. Fossils are not common – hundreds of rocks slabs must be split to expose a single animal. Fortunately, the discovery of fossils is encouraged by commercial interests. Beginning in 1798, the lithographic stone has been quarried to make stone plates used to print high-resolution images of paintings, etchings and, later, photographs.

Many scientific publications about Solnhofen fossils have been illustrated by drawings of specimens reproduced via lithographic limestone plates.

Why are Solnhofen fossils so magnificent? The environment  around a tropical reef  was perfect for preservation. Reef-building organisms – sponges, microbes, corals – built up an arc of hard calcium carbonate that shielded a quiet lagoon. All manner of salt-water fish and invertebrates hunted for food in the upper warm waters. Land-living animals came to the beach to search for washed-up carcasses. In the air flew ‘dactyls and, on occasion, a  bird.

When an animal died and sank to the bottom of the lagoon, the water chemistry offered protection from  the forces of decay and dismemberment. The hot tropical climate concentrated the salts in the quietest part of the lagoon, so that most decomposers – organisms that would destroy the carcass – were kept away. Salt-loving microbes spread a thin film over the bottom, and this film functioned like a death-shroud, further protecting the body of dead animals. Perfect fossils were formed when the microbial mat excluded every crab, snail and  bottom-living shark that would otherwise destroy the body.

Extinct Sea Turtle
Eurysternum Wagleri

Solnhofen brings to us a picture of half-way evolution. The rich fish fauna was being modernized by natural selection. Old-fashioned armored fish were going extinct. New styles of jaws and fins were being developed among what would become the dominant fish families in the modern world. Many Solnhofen fish were living-fossils in their own day, representing evolutionary designs that had first appeared two hundred million years earlier. Other Solnhofen fish were the first successful members of clans that dominate today.

Pterodactyls and sea-reptiles too were about half-way in their Darwinian trajectory. Sea-turtles had not yet evolved their specialized flipper. Sea-crocodiles were about to suffer extinction and replacement by the new ocean-going species of the Cretaceous Period. Crustaceans were starting the wave of evolution that would continue as modern crabs and shrimp and lobsters.

There collection displayed here in our exhibit is one of the finest samplings of the entire Solnhofen biota. The Archaeopteryx at the center of the exhibit is the only Archaeopteryx in the New World.

Science Doesn’t Sleep (8.14.08)

Granny Smith
Nutritous and delicious.
Creative Commons License photo credit: Steve Navarro

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

For the 2008 Olympians, what’s nutritious and delicious? Powdered apple peel.

Humans and wild elephants in Indonesia have come into repeated conflict over habitat – resulting in property losses for humans and deaths of wild elephants. So, locals have developed a squadron of trained “flying elephants” that patrol the perimeter villages and warn their brethren away.

Insects that dive underwater create an “underwater lung” – an air bubble they carry with them as they swim – in order to breathe. Scientists have just figured out how it works.

Don’t forget to sleep on it: sleep plays a sophisticated role in what we remember – and what we forget.

Geographic profiling: what works for bees also works for serial killers.

Ready the wonderment: the Moon goes into partial eclipse this Saturday night.

Where have all the sea monsters gone? A variety of factors are transforming Earth’s oceans into “simplistic ecosystems dominated by microbes, toxic algal blooms, jellyfish and disease.”