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Category: News


The Buzz About Cicadas

That incessant buzzing sound you’ve been hearing for weeks now is not in your head. It’s mostly in the trees and bushes and all over your yard. It’s the (actually) harmless cicada. Dr. John Abbott, an entomologist and chief curator and director of The University of Alabama department of museum research and collections, said adult cicadas live four to six weeks and it’s the males we hear calling. This is Brood XIX coming out this year. There were some stragglers […]

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How well do parasitic traces preserve in decapod crustaceans?

Two decapod specimens with a swelling caused by a parasitic isopod in the gill chamber. Left: modern Munida valida (modern); right: Macroacaena rosenkrantzi (Late Cretaceous, Greenland). Source: modified from Wright et al. (2024)

Parasites are very common today and are an important part of terrestrial and marine ecosystems. They also have been found in the fossil record, but their small size and soft body make their preservation a rarity. Some parasites leave a trace indicating their presence on or within the host, even if the parasite itself is not preserved.  One example are traces made by epicaridean isopod parasites in decapod crustacean hosts such as crabs, shrimps, and lobsters. These isopod parasites can […]

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Students discover rare fossils during Blount Scholars course field trips

Tyler Posey, Sumlin Pate, and Ellie Stevens showing off the fossil vertebrae they discovered at Harrell Station Paleontological Site.

Paleontology speaks to the imagination of many people, including students at The University of Alabama. Over the last few years, the course Paleontology and Society has been offered in the spring semester via the selective Blount Scholars Program. This course for undergraduate students is taught by Dr. Adiel Klompmaker, UA Museums’ Curator of Paleontology. An important part of this course is focused learning outside the classroom. During several field trips students got a chance to experience fossil collecting and interpreting […]

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New fossil shark records from Alabama

Illustration of Glikmanius careforum (foreground) and two Troglocladodus trimblei (background). Credit: Benji Paynose and National Park Service.

Paleozoic rock formations outcrop throughout northern Alabama and have been studied heavily due to their invertebrate diversity and abundance. Despite this heavy invertebrate literature base, vertebrates have been understudied. Recently, the Bangor Limestone of northern Alabama has had multiple new ~330 million-year-old shark species discovered within it. These investigations have led to further fieldwork and museum studies of previously collected shark teeth, including specimens discovered by University of Alabama Museums’ Research Associate of Paleontology Gabe Ward during his undergraduate degree […]

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Summer Cicada Surge Could Make for a Tasty Treat

In Alabama, the sound of cicadas often signals the beginning of summer. This year, their signature seasonal signal is expected to be a little louder. Every year, the annual cicadas emerge in broods in different locations all around the United States. They have a greenish to dark gray colored body and black eyes. However, this year in Alabama, two broods of periodical cicadas are set to emerge at the same time. These insects have red eyes. Brood XIII and Brood XIX are expected to […]

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Surprising fossil crab with gills, foodpipe, and stomach discovered

3D internal scan of fossilized crab

Most animals and plants never fossilize. For those that do, it’s usually only hard parts such as bones and shells that preserve. However, in some exceptional cases, soft tissues such as muscles and gills survive the fossilization process and can present a wealth of information about the biology and ecology of ancient organisms. In a recently published paper in Palaeontologia Electronica, Dr. Adiel Klompmaker (UA Museums’ Curator of Paleontology) and colleagues reported on a remarkable crab with multiple mineralized soft […]

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Student develops new fossil exhibit for Blount Scholars Program

Seven vertebrae of the mosasaur Tylosaurus next to a small mosasaur model

The course Paleontology and Society (BUI 301) has been taught through the selective liberal arts Blount Scholars Program for undergraduate students since 2021 by Dr. Adiel Klompmaker, UA Museums’ Curator of Paleontology. Additionally, several students have taken the new Blount Scholars museum internship (BUI 399) focusing on various aspects of paleontology such as curation, exhibit development, and research. During the last couple of years of the course, students visited and collected fossils at key sites in Alabama while also interacting […]

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IMLS Inspire! Grant Award

collection of Löding beetles

Drs. John Abbott and Milt Ward were awarded an IMLS Inspire! grant for $47,575 to rehouse an historically and scientifically significant beetle collection. The proposed project will result in the rehousing of an historically and scientifically significant collection at the Alabama Museum of Natural History (ALMNH), bringing it up to modern collection standards. Additionally, the collection of beetles will be imaged and data digitized making it accessible to an international community. The Löding Beetle Collection consists of ~ 50,000 specimens […]

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National Fossil Day

Cretaceous mosasaur vertebrae

Visit the Alabama Museum of Natural History on October 28, 2023 from 1:30 PM – 4:00 PM for a free National Fossil Day event! The museum will be celebrating the rich fossil record Alabama has to offer with this year’s theme featuring mosasaurs, ancient predators of up to ~50 ft long that lived in the ocean covering most of Alabama during the Cretaceous. “National Fossil Day at the Alabama Museum of Natural History is the largest event in Alabama where people with an interest in […]

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