comparative zoology


The Brain Scoop: 
Fisher Dissection - Harvard Adventures, Part 2

The Grossometer returns for this video as we work with Dr. Katrina Jones, a paleontologist at Harvard’s Museum of Comparative Zoology, to dissect the muscles from a fisher (Martes pennanti) in order to examine its spine. Field Museum curator Dr. Ken Angielczyk is working with collaborators at Harvard to discover more information about the evolution of mammal movement – and part of that research involves looking at relatives of animals that lived hundreds of millions of years ago. 

What’s exciting to me about this work is that it’s multifaceted, incorporating fossil evidence as well as extant (modern) animals, biomechanical movements requiring dissections, and understanding certain genetic expressions. The next step involves active experiments, photography and digital elements, CT-scanning technology, and virtual tests using gaming software. It shows that science is creative, hands-on, and fueled by the curious passion of really dynamic and quite brilliant people. I hope you love this video series, too! 

Watch the Part 1 here!


Description of new reptiles, or imperfectly known to the collection of the Natural History Museum and remarks on the classification and characteristics of reptiles; By Duméril, Henri Auguste André, 1812-1870 National Museum of Natural History (France)
Via Flickr:
Publication info Paris: Museum of Natural History, 1852-1856 

BHL Collections: Smithsonian Libraries


Tortoises, terrapins, and turtles : drawn from life / by James de Carle Sowerby and Edward Lear. on Flickr.

By: Sowerby, James de Carle, - Gray, John Edward, - Lear, Edward,
Publication info: London, Paris, and Frankfort :H. Sotheran, J. Baer & co.,1872.
Series: Museum of Comparative Zoology–Biodiversity Heritage Library digitization project.
Contributed by: Harvard University, MCZ, Ernst Mayr Library
BHL Collections: Ernst Mayr Library of the MCZ, Harvard University

Made with Flickr

The Brain Scoop:
Bending Fossils: Experiment in Paleontology (Harvard Adventures, Part 3)

To conclude our Harvard Adventures mini-series, Dr. Stephanie Pierce shows us the experimentation part of their research, and how she and her collaborators are able to apply those same techniques to fossil animals through the use of 3D modeling software. It is wild! 

As Stephanie says in the end of the video, right now is one of the most exciting times to be a paleontologist. Never before has technology been so adaptable to bend (pun) to the creative whims of researchers. How neat is that? Neat. 

Catch up on the series by watching the first two videos here!

kelsiq  asked:

Hey there! Sorry if this has been answered, but I HAVE to know. Is it pronounced GROSS-oh-meeter or gross-AH-mitter? -Kelsi

I’ve always pronounced grossometer as gross-AH-meter, like… barometer. But gross-O-meter had sort of a fun, campy game show feel, so I’m cool with either.

The wheel in question is most certainly making a reappearance when we visit Harvard’s Museum of Comparative Zoology in November to dissect some critters - maybe cats, perhaps a varanid lizard, and an echidna or two if their permits come through in time…

It’s all part of a National Science Foundation funded grant for research that will be looking into spinal evolution between basal synapsids, like Dimetrodon, and the earliest ‘true’ mammals, the cynodonts.

Dimetrodon had a long, largely uniform spine with rib-like processes all the way down its back. All living mammals today have highly regionalized spinal columns- district areas between the chest and thoracic ribs, and the lower lumbar vertebrae. But, paleontologists still aren’t entirely sure when that distinct separation evolved for mammals. And lucky for us, answering that question involves some pretty stellar dissections.