Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Atrypids - FOS 012

FOS 012
Pseudoatrypa Shell
Location: Ovid, NY
Family: Atrypidae
Details: only fairly certain on ID

I apologize for not posting anything in awhile, but I didn't have any of my materials/data over the extended Thanksgiving weekend (hope everyone had a happy one by the way), and this week is pretty busy for me so don't expect too many new posts in the coming few weeks. But I finally found out the family for one of my fossils, which is why I haven't posted too many fossils seeing as it takes a little bit of work to identify them. I've been working with bivalves recently at the PRI and in researching another genus I found a Fossil Site where I noticed a specimen that looked very similar to one in my collection.

The bivalve this professor collected was a Pseudoatrypa devoniana, and since I'm not an expert in this area and don't have too much time on my hands I am going to temporarily identify mine under the same genus Pseudoatrypa. It belongs to the Atrypidae family which I'm fairly confident in, seeing as the general characteristics are the same and location is also very similar. This one was found at Camp Babcock-Hovey in Ovid, New York back in 2008. There is a little more information on this genus at this paleontological site. They're stationary suspension feeders.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tweet Tweet

The Sholesonian is now on Twitter.

Seeing as how some people don't want to keep checking the website only to find I have yet to post something for the day, I have decided to create a Sholesonian Twitter account where the newest post will be 'tweeted.' I also have the Twitter account following over a dozen top science accounts to keep you all posted on the latest breakthroughs and discoveries.

Humped Cricket - NH 067

NH 067
Camel Cricket
Category: Grasshoppers and Kin
Family: Rhaphidorphoridae

So, glancing at the Collections of Natural History page I realized that I haven't really posted anything up from other than spiders and a few other insects. That being said I am now going to present the first from the Grasshoppers and Kin group: a Camel Cricket. Now when I first collected this guy he was temporarily identified as a mole cricket, I think someone may have told me that's what they looked like. But with a bit of research it turns out that it is actually a camel cricket-easily identified by its humped back. It was living under a rock in the Cornell Arboretum, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, USA and was found on October 26, 2010 at 5:30pm.

There isn't much else to say about them. It seems that they have a tendency to accidentally find themselves indoors and will make a new home in a basement or other similar dark and damp place. They are pests only in that they come into houses and are unwanted but other than that they don't really cause any harm. I am going to temporarily classify him as a Spotted Camel Cricket (Ceuthophilus maculatus), but as always this is only for the time being unless an expert can help me out on this front. But if you want to learn more about the Rhaphidophoridae family you can check out the link.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Hornbill Coin - CC 059

CC 059
'Toko Bird' Coin
Origin: Botswana
Unit: 5 thebe
Details: bronze

Well I haven't posted up any coins in awhile so I decided to pick another with a random blind pick, and the winner is this interesting Botswana coin. For those that don't know, Botswana is a fairly large country in Africa situated above South Africa; and I have just learned that the currency there is one of the strongest in Africa. This particular coin is from 1991, struck in bronze, and is worth 5 thebe. The currency of Botswana is the pula and is broken into 100 thebe (similar to the American system). On a side note, the word pula means rain alluding to the fact that Botswana gets so little rain that it is prized when it comes. Thebe, on the other hand, means shield.

What is particularly interesting about this coin is the bird that they have on the reverse - a Southern Yellow-Billed Hornbill, which the actual bird reminds me a lot of the bird from The Lion King. These birds are a common sight in Botswana so it makes sense that they might have some pride in them. I also found this very cool website that's a Coin Zoo, where the author has lots of coins with animals on them (I have lots more to come as well). And it's interesting to note that on that site the author mentions how the bird is often referred to as the 'Toko' bird as a mis-attribution to its genus Tockus by other coin collectors, as when I received the coin it had 'Toko bird' written on the original holder. The coin's obverse features an interesting seal, with the word 'PULA' written on the banner.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Long Jawed - NH 013

NH 013
Long Jawed Orb Weaver
Category: Arachnids
Family: Tetragnathae

It's Spider Saturday once again, and while I promised some of you that I would be posting the newest arachnid addition to the Sholesonian, the permanent display has yet to be finished so you'll have to wait a little bit longer (maybe next week but I can't be sure over the holiday weekend). So I have decided to post up one of my favorite spiders from the vault. This guy was collected on the Thurston Avenue Bridge, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, USA sometime in September after dusk. The bridge is literally crawling with thousands of these guys and other spiders and they are most prominently seen at nightfall.

What's cool about these Long-Jawed Orb Weavers is that you can actually see that their jaws are longer than other common orb weavers, but also they have a longer pair of legs in the front. You can clearly see both distinct characteristics in the photograph, and I think that it makes a great new addition to the museum. It isn't poisonous but does have a certain unnerving quality to it that makes it one of the finer pieces. It belongs to the family Tetragnathae, and I'm pretty sure I've broken it down into the Tetragnatha genus. Other than that I don't think I can get species at the moment, a lot of them look similar.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Digging Deep - GEO 001

GEO 001
Drill Core
Class: Rock
Location: Unknown
Details: rock unknown

Sorry Sholesonian patrons, but I have been quite busy this past week and literally have not had the time to write out any posts. It is now finally Friday, so I have a bit of time to write up this post that was supposed to be for Wednesday, but studying got in the way. Now unfortunately, today's specimen has no locality or identification information at all because I purchased it at the same Newark, New York yard sale that I got the 'Peach Fuzz' piece from. So there were plenty of cheap large and interesting rocks/minerals but most no longer had any sort of label making them essentially worthless for a museum but very nice to look at and useful for teaching.

This piece from the Geology Collections is a drill core sample from some unknown locale. Drill core samples are very important for collecting scientific data. They are used predominantly in geological surveys to determine the strata layers and collect samples of deep rocks in the crust. But they are also heavily used in the oil industry, where the oil companies hire geologists to find the best places to drill for oil, so they use these rather long rock samples (this one is only 26 cm but they are usually feet long) to determine the makeup of the rock layers.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

18th Century Watch - HS 011

HS 011
Pocket Sundial
Era: 18th Century
Details: replica, made in early 21st century

So, I was looking at the blog and realized that I haven't posted anything up from the historical collections in awhile. Thus today I bring you a blast from the past - 18th century past that is. Years ago I visited Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia. It's pretty interesting, they do all the re-enactments and such showing exactly what life was like back in the 1700's before the United States was. Now as much as I liked seeing and learning the history there was one particular souvenir that I really wanted. It was this pocket watch, well predecessor to it.

Back then, technology was pretty far back from where it is today. Benjamin Franklin still had yet to invent the bifocals, something we still consider to be low tech. The pocket watch that we still think of usually with a gold chain, were around at this time but were high luxury items that very few people could afford (it was spring driven so you would have to keep winding it up as well). So for the more middle class they had these pocket watches that were sundials. And for those who don't know sundials tell time using the relative position of the sun which creates a shadow and the shadow indicates the time. However because sundials require a fixed position in order to work, a pocket version doesn't seem to make sense. But with the simple addition of a compass, one can simply orient it North and find out the time. Given enough sunlight however.

EDIT: I found the actual instruction booklet that the compass came with so here is an excerpt giving some more information for you. "This type of instrument was made in England and Germany in the middle 1700's and, quite naturally, proved a useful item in early America, as a timepiece and functional compass. A pocket watch of that time was too expensive and fragile for the frontier.
Now and then parts of an old compass will turn up - sometimes in a garden when struck by a plow, or on an archaeological dig. Such a find was made in 1965 on Roger' Island, near Fort Edward, New York."

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Acting Crabby - NH 020

NH 020
Crab Spider
Category: Arachnids
Family: Thomisidae

I apologize for not posting anything in awhile, I've been a little busy lately. But it doesn't matter because it's Spider Saturday! Now, since I've been busy I don't have too much information on this guy, only his family which is Thomisiade. What I like about these spiders is that they differ from the usual color scheme and they have the distinctive angled front legs which look look oddly enough like their namesake: crab spiders.

The unfortunate thing about this particular guy is that I don't have complete labeling data for him. I know that he was captured in early September, but locality wise I think it may have been at Baker Tower, Cornell, Ithaca; but I'm not positive about that. It is kind of odd though that I found him indoors because crab spiders like to live on flowers (hence the yellowish coloring) and ambush their prey rather than building a web and waiting. Also another interesting fact about them is that they continue to resemble crabs in that they are able to walk sideways. Now running through the pages associated with the crab spider Wikipedia page, I think that this guy (or girl for that matter) is in the genus Misumena though I am entirely unsure about that - those in this genus are the flower crab spiders. And for those who have always wanted pictures with some sort of scale, here's one finally.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Bookworm - NH 056

NH 056
Category: Bristletails
Family: Lepismatidae

So yesterday I stumbled upon an insect preparation file online which eventually lead me to be able to correctly identify what one of the 'unknown insects' in the collection is. It would be NH 056, which when I first found it on the floor of my room on October 26, 2020 at 11:00am. I had absolutely no idea what it was but quickly captured it, labeled it, and tentatively identified it as the larva form of some other insect. But as it turns out, it actually belongs to a completely different order, Thysanura which contains bristletails. You can easily tell from the three long filaments on the back of the insect. This one happens to be a Silverfish (Lepisma saccharina).

Now I had never heard about or even seen these guys until yesterday, and they are actually kinda interesting for a pest. You see silverfish and their cousins firebrats, actually eat books and similar items. Tapestries, papers, glue, photos, carpets, and sugars all constitute their diet. You can find some more information on silverfish here, or check out the Wikipedia page to see what they can do to books. It's a nice new addition to the collection, and it's silvery color is still visible in its vial.

And just as a side note, while the term 'book worm' is generally termed to general book enthusiasts who are always buried in their books, it is also used as a loose term for any species of insect that eats or burrows into a book. Furniture beetles, death watch beetle larvae, paper louses, along with the bristletails all make up the book worm insect group.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Bhutanese - CC 077

CC 077
Bhutan Coin
Origin: Bhutan
Unit: 10 chetrum
Details: bronze

So over the weekend I finally got around to start cataloging the large amount of coins I have (i.e. re-labeling them and giving them a Sholesonian No.). I still have only done about half of them, but I decided to choose one at random from the box I have now for today's post. And that random coin is CC 077 from Bhutan! Before I give you some more detail on Bhutanese coins, the basic information about this one is that it's from 1979 and is worth 10 chetrum.

The ngultrum (their equivalent of a dollar) was introduced in Bhutan back in 1974 replacing the rupee. It, like a dollar, is broken into one hundredths called chetrum. What I particularly like about this coin is the cool gastropod shell on front along with the interesting symbol that appears on all the Bhutanese coins. However, this 10 chetrum piece is no longer in circulation, you can check out the in-circulation Bhutanese coins here, making this piece that much more interesting. And if you don't know where Bhutan is located on the map, it's located between India and China. So now you know.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Elementary Geode - GEO 008

GEO 008
Class: Geodes
Location: unknown
Details: unknown mineral

So, today is just a boring post. It's a geode that I've had since sometime in Elementary School, so it's been in my collection for a long time. But anyway, when I first got it it was completely closed and I had to smash it open myself. It isn't the greatest specimen (the crystalline structure isn't that spectacular inside), but it is always cool to be the first person to see what the geode looks like on the inside.

Now, I'm not positive of what the mineral is that constitutes the crystals inside. If I had to guess it would be that it's some milky quartz (SiO2) but seeing as I haven't spent too much time looking it up and I don't know where it originated from so this is just my educated guess for the meantime. But because of the almost botryoidal behavior (roundish and looking like grapes), I think it may be something else. This round like crystal structure is something that does make it interesting in the collection. And if you're wondering how large it is, it's approximately the size of a golf ball.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Plant or Animal - FOS 011

FOS 011
Crinoid Segment
Location: Hamburg, NY
Details: part of the stalk

Here's just another short post from the fossil collection. This one is a crinoid stem that I collected myself from the Penn Dixie Site in Hamburg, New York back in late-August 2009. Most of the fossils that I found there were trilobites and rugose corals (horn corals). But occasionally I found some crinoid pieces or the occasional brachiopod there (they're more common to Central New York).

Now, this is the 'stem' part of the crinoid. You see while crinoids look a lot like underwater plants, they are in fact animals. You can see from this crinoid informational page what the actual structure looks like for these pretty interesting creatures. Crinoids are actually still around, though most modern day species no longer have a stalk and just float around the ocean. Like I said this is a pretty short post, mostly because I'm tired and crinoids are little too regular for me (i.e. I see them a lot in the fossils I collect).

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Scary Cellars - NH 021

NH 021
Cellar Spider
Category: Arachnids
Family: Pholcidae

Sorry for the lack of updates the past few days, I've been both busy and tired and never got around to it. But I would not forget to give you guys Spider Saturday! So here is the next arachnid on the circuit. This guy is known as a cellar spider and while I'm most definitely not positive about the exact classification, I'm going to go out on a limb and say Pholcus phalangioides, though if you know your stuff and think otherwise please let me know. But I do know that it does belong to the family Pholcidae.

He (and this time I am thinking that it actually is a male due to its smaller size) was found funny enough not exactly in a cellar but the lowest level of the building nonetheless: first floor of Baker Tower. If you guys remember when I posted up my Harvestman a few weeks back I gave you the rundown on daddy longlegs. And while I consider the harvestmen to be the true daddy longlegs I guess there is some regional differences and these guys are often called by the same term. I really don't see it that much. Yeah they have long legs but they look very different. Not much more to say on them really, they do spin webs and this guy was captured in early-mid September 2010.

You check more about this species of cellar spider here.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Nightcrawler - NH 009

NH 009
Category: Annelids
Family: Lumbricidae

So nothing too fantastic today, just an ordinary worm that I collected. Now while I'm not an expert on insects by any means, worms (which are Annelids rather than Arthropods) are way out of my scope of identification. This means that you guys will have to go on my best guess for what this is and I'm only going down to the family classification. For now I am calling this guy just a regular North American earthworm, family: Lumbricidae. Any further would require me to do some more extensive research, of which I am too busy to do especially when their are more important specimens that need that kind of attention.

Anyway, this earthworm was found in early September 2010 (probably the 4th to be exact), later in the night. And as it turns out while I call these guys nightcrawlers, there is no specific genera or species that compromises the fisherman's term 'nightcrawler.' Rather the word is loosely used to describe any large worm that would be perfect to place on a hook to be subsequently eaten by a fish. Just a little bit of information you might like to know. Oh, and the alcohol has turned yellow, presumably from 'stuff' leaking out of the worm itself.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Darwinian Dollars - CC 036

CC 036
Honorary Darwin Bill
Origin: Galapagos Islands
Unit: 500 New Sucres
Details: Extremely good quality

First off, I should be getting some new coin holders soon so I'll be able to get started on cataloging all of my coins. And second, today I am posting up that new piece in the coin collection that I was talking about last week. I'm sure you've been able to guess by now that today's bill is from none other than the Galapagos Islands. Now I'm sure that we are all aware that these islands are not their own country but rather a province of sorts. What I didn't realize was that they were part of Ecuador (I thought it was something like Peru, which is right below Ecuador).

So you may be wondering why there are bills specific to the Galapagos and why they don't use Ecuadorian money, which by the way Ecuador uses the monetary unit sucres. But you see, one company decided to print these special bills in order to commemorate the 200th birthday of Charles Darwin. There are a lot of commemorative coins and bills for certain people and events all over the world.

If you didn't know, the Galapagos Islands are where the famed naturalist Charles Darwin spent a good deal of time studying the unique array of isolated animals eventually leading to his work on evolution and natural selection. So this bill, worth 500 new sucres (see what they did there?), was made last year to honor his legacy. The writing is all in Spanish, the official language of Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, and features a single tortoise on the obverse with two tortoises, probably in some sort of mating ritual, on the reverse. Which of course are representations of probably the most well known species on the islands: the Galapagos Giant Tortoise (Geochelone nigra). And the reverse also has a liking of Darwin himself.

Now you may be wondering if this money is usable, and the answer is that it depends. The company will present you with its exact worth (how much the bill is worth American and how much you payed for it) which is two dollars. But I've heard stories that some people will accept it down there as legal tender, but I'm not positive on that. But it makes an interesting exhibit nonetheless and represents one of the world's most breathtaking places. I definitely want to go there sometime in the future. Oh, and just for museum purposes the serial number is CD17536.

UPDATE: So I was just informed by my friend Kelsey, who has been to Ecuador, that Ecuador has actually been using the US dollar as it's official currency now. And while Americans hardly use the $1 Sacagawea coins, they are quite popular down there. The only official Ecuadorian money they seem to use are centavo coins now. But anyway I encourage anybody who reads any of my stuff and see any errors to please let me know, that way this site will be more informative and I'll learn something new as well.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Wollaston's - GEO 006

GEO 006
Class: Minerals
Locatin: New York, USA
Details: has garnets

I haven't posted up any of the more display type minerals yet so here is one of them, albeit a tad boring due to it's lack of color. This is called Wollastonite, named after W.H. Wollaston, and has the chemical formula of CaSiO3, making it a silicate. It was originally retrieved from somewhere in New York, but judging from the fact that it is made in metamorphic processes I'm guessing the Adirondack Mountains area. I purchased it at a Rock and Gem show in Newark, New York and picked this guy out because of how similar it looks to salt and pepper. Thought it was an interesting specimen. The fact that it has those garnets also leads to my belief that it was found in the metamorphic region of the Adirondacks.

Anyway, the original label had 'Garnet-Diopside' written on it so I am guessing that the black specks, the pepper if you will, are those garnets as wollastonite is generally white, the salt part. In general however, wollastonite is used in ceramics and paints. It actually isn't all that interesting a mineral but its uniqueness comes from that interesting color combination. And I just learned from this site that the 'hot spot' for wollastonite in New York is Willsboro, which is right on the Northeastern edge of the Adirondacks, confirming my suspicions.

Oh, and happy first post of the month!