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Science News

Natural Selection in Action

Posted: April 20, 2020

In the past 80 years, the plumage of the Horned Lark has undergone a relatively rapid color change, which scientists believe is due to the conversion of Imperial Valley desert into farmland, which has caused the landscape to change from light to dark. This could represent the first example known among birds evolving different colors within recorded history. Read more.

Return of the Frogs

Posted: April 9, 2020

President and CEO Judy Gradwohl shares a first-person account of a recent milestone for conservation: I had arrived early at the release site in case the egg transport went faster than anyone anticipated. This quiet overcast day marked the culmination of many years of hard work to return California red-legged frogs to their historic range in Southern California, where they have been absent for about 20 years. Read more.

A new way to use collections? Using material from specimens within the Museum's botany collection, researchers may be on the path to a new treatment for Alzheimer's disease - and maybe more. Read more.

Helping Save the Ringtail

Posted: March 6, 2020

We don’t know much about our native ringtail cats, but we can say two things for certain: they are not actually cats (they are in the raccoon family), and they love strawberry jam. The Nat is working with the San Diego Zoo to study these elusive creatures and understand why they keep ending up as roadkill in our foothill areas. Read more.

Some bird species museum scientists have been studying are spreading in a more southerly or downslope direction over time, which is contrary to the expectations of climate warming. Why is this happening? They attribute these shifts to three main factors, all directly resulting from human influence. Read more.

A new species of feathered dinosaur has been discovered in China, and described by American and Chinese authors in the journal, The Anatomical Record. The fossil preserves feathers and bones that provide new information about how dinosaurs grew and how they differed from birds. Read more.

Scientists from The Nat have documented range shifts—changes to where an organism lives or occurs—of numerous animals, which are being analyzed in the broader context of climate warming and habitat change. One of these is the expansion of the nesting range of the Zone-tailed Hawk into California. Read more.

The Top 10 Specimens of the 2010s

Posted: December 26, 2019

In the spirit of the decade-spanning top ten lists that abound in our collective news feeds, we asked our curators to nominate two to three of the best specimens that were collected or discovered in the 2010s. We got 17 nominations, and musuem staff and volunteers voted to narrow the list down to “The Top 10 Specimens of the 2010s.” Read more.

One hundred years ago, scientists—both amateur and classically trained—found plants in the Baja California Peninsula that now seem to have disappeared. No one has seen them growing in the wild for decades—until now. Multiple recent expeditions have led to the rediscovery of some species. Where did they go and how did we find them? Read more.

Curatorial Milestones at The Nat

Posted: December 2, 2019

The Museum is delighted to celebrate milestone promotions for two of our long-time curatorial staff members. Phil Unitt in the Birds and Mammals Department and Dr. Brad Hollingsworth in the Herpetology Department were promoted from associate curator to curator in fall 2019.  Read more.