Maya Mammals (and more!)

If you visit Maya: The Exhibition, one thing you will notice is how often animals are represented in the artifacts shown, and even in the glyphs used in their ancient writing system. Historic and modern cultures all around the world often use images of animals in their art and to decorate everyday objects. These animals might be important food sources, or religious or cultural symbols, or even pets.

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That can’t be good! (for a fossil)

Why then would anyone want to damage a fossil bone by removing a section of it with a power drill? Surely this must be a wanton act of vandalism! Read our latest blog entry to learn why museums sometimes have to break a few eggs to make an omelet and drill a few bones to make a discovery.

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The “Dirty” Dozen

The Hahn site, one of the largest and most intensively occupied Fort Ancient-age sites in the Ohio Valley, was occupied at least intermittently from the 13th through the 17th centuries. Our excavations have uncovered lots in those 12 years. And, even though we still have several more years of processing and analysis ahead of us, let’s take a quick look at what we have accomplished.

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What’s in the jar?

The Zoology collections at Cincinnati Museum Center are divided into “fluid” and “dry” collections. The fluid collection space is one of my favorites at the museum – it is equal parts creepy and fascinating for most visitors. In the dry collections, specimens are typically skinned (removing all the organs and soft tissue), stuffed, and dried.

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Waltzing Matildasaurus!

OK, so there is no such thing as Matildasaurus, but there is a Muttaburrasaurus, an Early Cretaceous ornithopod dinosaur from northeastern Australia. Paleontology is not the world’s most lucrative profession, but it does have its advantages, often including the ability to travel for work. During this period of Covid-19 quarantine for so many of us, it seems like an opportune time to relive a paleo-adventure and share a little virtual travel Down Under.

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Zoology CSI

Zoology CSI By: Heather Farrington, Curator of Zoology Even at the dawn of the genetic age, it was known that only living (or once living) cells could be a source of DNA for study. Blood, tissues such as skin and muscle, and reproductive cells such as sperm were standard sources of genetic material. Structures such as fur, hair, feathers, shells, claws, and nails were thought to be made up only of secreted proteins, with no living cells, and therefore were of little value to geneticists unless there were still skin cells attached. If you’ve ever seen a TV crime drama, this is why hair samples are always collected by pulling rather than cutting, so that the skin cells at the base of the hair follicle (living cells containing DNA) are attached. After a cell dies, the DNA inside begins to degrade, or break down […]

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