Latest Posts

My Favorite Specimen, the Pangolin

Pangolins are the only mammals with scales. I love showing the pangolin specimen to visitors because they often think it’s a reptile at first. It challenges everyone who looks at it to reevaluate his or her definition of a mammal. I like to use the pangolins to help Q?rius visitors make connections with other animals in the Museum....Read more
Q?Crew volunteer Ella holds a pangolin specimen in Q?rius. Photo by Melissa Cannon, Smithsonian.

Learning to Love Microscopic Fossils

When I think of paleobiology, my brain automatically screams “dinosaurs,” but if there is one thing I learned this summer it is that there is more to the Department of Paleobiology than giant Triceratops skulls and ancient T. rex teeth....Read more
Tags: fossil
YES! intern Gabe peers into a microscope and sees ostracods, right, a type of microscopic marine fossil. Photos by YES! intern Gabe, Smithsonian.

Teens Explore Forensic Anthropology in 'Mystery at Yorktown Creek'

Erosion along a creek bed in Yorktown, Va., exposed something startling: a human skeleton! Scientists excavated the bones to prevent them from being washed away and destroyed, then brought them to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History to be analyzed by our forensic anthropologists. Who was this person, when did he or she live, and what can we learn about his or her life?...Read more
Q?rius volunteer Victor Guerrero shows students a human jawbone during the "Forensic Mysteries: Mystery at Yorktown Creek" school program. Photo by Jennifer Renteria, Smithsonian.

Celebrate Pollinators, the Real Party Animals

No celebration would be as festive or delicious without the contributions of pollinators and the plants they pollinate. The importance of the nectaring visits made by bees, butterflies, beetles, bats, birds, flies, and other small animals as they go from flower to flower, carrying and dispersing pollen, is evident in one-third of our daily diets....Read more
Bees and other pollinators are the focus of National Pollinator Week, June 15-21, 2015. Photo by Rosa Pineda, Smithsonian Institution.

Meteorites Bring News from Outer Space

Meteorites may conjure images of giant rocks smashing into towns. In fact, meteorites rarely hit people and regularly bring valuable materials to Earth from outer space. All of the iron we use on Earth today was delivered by meteorites. Gold and platinum even have meteorite origins....Read more
This meteorite piece from an ancient asteroid contains valuable crystals and metals. Smithsonian image 6474.