Solving mysteries at ID Day
Monday, October 24, 2011
The community presented all manner of disparate objects to experts at the U-M Museum of Natural History when it hosted the 15th annual ID Day October 9, 2011, including moon coral, a rabbit tail and pike weed.
“ID Day is a fun way to show the community what we have ‘behind the scenes’ in our museum collections,” said Celia Churchill, EEB graduate student. Churchill and Paula Teichholtz, EEB graduate student showcased a variety of tropical shells displaying adaptations to predation risk (e.g., increased thickness, spiny sculpture, presence of an operculum, or "trapdoor"). “Visitors wanted to know how shells grow, why the insides of shells (nacre) feels so smooth, whether snails have brains, and why all the ‘cool shells’ come from Florida! Several kids brought shells they'd collected from the Gulf of Mexico on family vacations, and one adult had a great collection of fossil oysters.”
EEB graduate student Jen–Pan Huang and Professor Barry OConnor staffed the insect table and identified several local insects and spiders. “We also had a lot of interesting conversations with adults and kids about both local and exotic insects and spiders,” said OConnor.
The event is also fun for visitors who didn’t bring in objects; they learned about specimens and artifacts in the experts’ collections, and found out what surprises other visitors brought in. Approximately 75 items were identified during ID Day. A smattering of them include: a tiger moth larva, raccoon skull, fern impression on rock, mammoth tooth, artifacts including a bone tool and a whale vertebrae disk, and antique jewelry dug up in someone’s garden.
Thanks to all of the participants affiliated with U-M EEB: Celia Churchill, graduate student, EEB, Museum of Zoology, area of expertise: mollusks, marine invertebrates; Paula Teichholtz, graduate student, EEB, Museum of Zoology, area of expertise: mollusks, marine invertebrates; Alexa Unruh, graduate student, EEB and the Museum of Zoology, area of expertise: local mammals, mammalian ecology; Tanya Dewey, research program officer, Museum of Zoology, Mammal Division, EEB, area of expertise: North American mammals; Jen-Pan Huang, graduate student, EEB, Museum of Zoology, area of expertise: insects; Professor Barry OConnor, EEB, curator of insects, Museum of Zoology, area of expertise: insects and mites; Professor Gerald Smith, curator emeritus of fishes, Museum of Zoology, curator emeritus of lower vertebrates, Museum of Paleontology, professor emeritus of EEB, professor emeritus of geological sciences, area of expertise: fish evolution.
If you missed ID Day this year, gather your mysterious treasures and watch for it next year!
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