Friday, November 5, 2010

into the Field (literally)

This week's class found us among at the Field Museum in the company of its the 14 million or so insect specimens and its abundant exhibits.

We visit the current The Romance of Ants exhibit about the life and work of the assistant curator there, Dr. Corrie Moreau. Luckily Alexandra Westrich who illustrated the graphic novel that is the centerpiece of the exhibit was also there to show us around.

After that as well as a tour of some of the more charismatic insects in the collection (yes, there are walking stick insects as long as your arm) lead us to then see some of the creatures at work - to the bird collection where dermestid (flesh eating) beetles were busy cleaning a variety of different skeletons, including a primate skull (!)

As you can see from the photos, it these tiny beetles live in a odorous environment to say the least...

Corrie then  talked about the work her and others do in the Pritzker Molecular Biology labs, including sequencing the DNA of the ants from far and wide: Madagascar, Australia, and perhaps most exotic of all - Florida.

It was an excellent visit. We didn't get to see all 14 million specimens, but we made a dent with a least a few hundred - no doubt the best ones.



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