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Ever notice the spectacular tree outside the Museum’s north entrance? Of course you have! It’s the iconic Moreton Bay Fig tree, which—like most of the other large trees in the Prado area of Balboa Park—was planted in preparation for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition. Since it was a few years old when it was planted in 1914, its age should probably be computed from about 1910, making this majestic tree more than 100 years old today. While many people would like to attribute its planting to Kate Sessions, San Diego's pioneer horticulturist and street tree planter, there is no documentation to verify this claim.
Gray whales are one of the most interesting sights to see off the coast of San Diego each winter. From mid-December to April, these whales pass by San Diego as they migrate from the Bering and Chuckchi seas in the Arctic to the warmer lagoons on the Baja peninsula where they calve and breed. They typically leave the Arctic in the late fall as it begins to freeze over.
Words cannot describe the fever pitch of excitement barely contained within the walls of our Museum the past several months as we led up to opening our latest home-grown exhibition, Coast to Cactus in Southern California. If the walls could move, they would definitely have been pulsing with the high energy imbued in this new show.
Ancient Egyptians were connected with nature in many ways. In the physical sense, the lush Nile Valley between two hostile deserts and the rhythm of the Nile with its annual flood contributed greatly to the fertility of the land. Metaphorically speaking, countless murals in royal palaces and tombs depicted landscapes, gardens, and an array of animals and plants, indicating the natural world was revered by ancient Egyptians.
In 1908, the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology at Berkeley mounted an expedition to the San Jacinto Mountain region, pioneering the exploration of southern California’s biology. On the 100th Anniversary of this expedition, from 2008 to 2010, the San Diego Natural History Museum retraced its path to see how the area’s wildlife has changed over the last century. This blog details one of the key findings of the San Jacinto centennial resurvey, the Gray Vireo.
San Diego’s secret summer is post-Labor Day when the San Diego Natural History Museum (theNAT) Canyoneers come out of hibernation to begin a new season of free nature walks. This season, nature enthusiasts can enjoy 73 free hikes from September 6 through June 28. Read more about the types of areas explored and what to expect on these fantastic nature walks.
As any local can attest, fires are a part of life here in San Diego. This year, the wildfires came four months earlier than usual and scorched more than 27,000 acres of land. Learn more about the life cycle of the chaparral, a ubiquitous California plant community that covers much of San Diego’s hillsides, and how it’s affected by wildfire.
In this blog, Erica Kelly, exhibition developer at the San Diego Natural History Museum, shares how she made her debut into the museum field and what her typical workday looks like. She also highlights her favorite aspects of being a key player of the Coast to Cactus in Southern California team. The exhibition is scheduled to open to the public on January 17, 2015.
We asked our staff to compile a list of book recommendations for you this summer… and here they are! From biogeography and evolution to hungry little caterpillars, explore some of the most beloved nature-based books from our research and education departments.
The pages of history of this Museum are full of colorful characters, and none more so than Charles R. Orcutt, the quintessential citizen scientist, collector, and entrepreneur. Discover more about Orcutt’s adventures, collections, and his participation in founding the San Diego Society of Natural History, the parent organization of our Museum.
Jim Melli has been an exhibition designer at the San Diego Natural History Museum on and off since the 1970s. Learn more about his experience in the field and the contributions he is currently making to our upcoming core exhibition, Coast to Cactus in Southern California, opening January 17, 2015.
Many do not realize that there was a direct correlation between pirates and natural history during the 17th and 18th centuries and beyond. In many respects, pirates were considered among the world’s first citizen scientists. Learn more about how pirates were some of the first to document the flora, fauna, and peoples around the globe.
Meet one of the key members of the San Diego Natural History Museum’s exhibits team that is developing our upcoming core exhibition Coast to Cactus in Southern California, set to open in January 2015. Learn more about his contributions to the meticulous undertaking that is building an exhibition.
It’s not every day that a new species of porpoise is introduced to the scientific world. However, that’s what recently happened when a team of paleontologists, including representatives from the San Diego Natural History Museum, discovered the fossil remains of a 3 million year old animal with a unique skull anatomy not represented in any living or fossil dolphin or porpoise.
We all know Snoopy is a well-known California icon. But we’re most excited about the Snoopy License Plate because proceeds will support California’s museums—such as theNAT—through a new grant program.
The three-masted, 300-ton galley Whydah was built as a slave ship in London in 1715, but only made one such voyage before being captured by Captain Sam Bellamy and his crew in 1717. Just two months later, the Whydah sank off the Massachusetts coast, where she lay on the sea floor until underwater explorer Barry Clifford found the remains of the ship in 1984. In a decades-long recovery operation, Clifford and his team have excavated thousands of artifacts that shed light on this tumultuous period of American and world history.
Gray whales are getting a head start on migration. The Museum Whalers, theNAT’s volunteer naturalists, saw an unexpected number of gray whales much earlier in the season this year.
Every cup of coffee we buy and drink connects us with a web of hidden stories around the world. In this global age, an exhibition currently on view at theNAT explores the important question: What is the true story behind one of the world’s most widely traded commodities?
The San Diego Natural History Museum has made a decision to withdraw the 12 fossils listed for sale in the Bonhams public auction scheduled for November 19, 2013. The fossils in question include seven large vertebrate fossils collected and sold to the Museum by Charles Sternberg in the 1920s, and represent a fraction of the Sternberg specimens currently housed in our research collection. The remaining five auction specimens are Green River Formation fish fossils added to the Museum’s collection in the 1970s.
The San Diego Natural History Museum’s mission is to interpret the natural world of southern California and the peninsula of Baja California. The Museum is permanently removing 12 fossils from our collection that are unrelated to our mission. The proceeds will be used to acquire scientifically important fossils from our region as well as gems and minerals from southern California and Baja California. These will be strong additions to our collection while enhancing our mission.
With only a few days left on the binational Baja expedition, the Herpetology team is starting to tally their numbers. We have observed a total of 28 species of amphibians and reptiles. Seeing the large diversity of lizards was somewhat expected, but the abundance of snakes is a completely different matter.
Despite tropical storm Sonia directly hitting our area, we have collected approximately 250 different plant specimens, with a focus on collecting species that have not been documented in this area.
Five botanists, including Curator of Botany Jon Rebman, have been collecting plants from near the base camp and from the higher elevations of the Sierra Cacachila, where they discovered unfamiliar species, including some that are potentially new to science.
Today the expedition’s entomology team went out to do some scouting for sampling sites in the Sierra Cacachilas. We saw two very unusual critters that are only found at the southern tip of Baja California Sur, and even then aren’t seen very often.
There aren’t too many unexplored places left, but there is one in our own backyard (or close to it) that almost 30 scientists and researchers from the San Diego Natural History Museum and counterparts in Mexico will explore beginning this week.
Over 715 different plants in more than 350 genera in 111 families are described in the third and newest edition of Baja California Plant Field Guide. Authored by the 2011 San Diego Horticulturist of the Year, Dr. Jon P. Rebman, the book offers tribute to the late Norman C. Roberts, author of the first two editions.
The Docent program at the San Diego Natural History has come a long way since that first meeting in February 1968. At that time guided tours in San Diego museums were unheard of, and the word "docent," meaning "teaching guide," was new to many people. The purpose of the new Docent program was to make the Museum interesting and accessible to children and their families and to teach them what a regional museum offers.