Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Blogging from the Peabody Museum at Yale University In New Haven, CT!!!

This week: TRAVELOGUE!!

I hopped on Amtrak from DC and headed up to New Haven, CT to visit the world famous Invertebrate Zoology department at the Peabody Museum of Yale University!

Why? A recent discovery of a new Atlantic species of corallivore from the deep-sea North Atlantic suggested that further specimens of this animal may have been collected and stored at Yale...
Plus, they have lots of historical material from famous echinoderm starfish guy.. Addison Emery Verrill. Here's his wikipedia entry (or click on the pic)
This includes many specimen he identified and worked with.. Often, these specimens are useful in assisting with what the original author intended when he described certain species..

Me arriving at 4:35 AM in New Haven's ornate Train Station..

Train ride was mostly uneventful-but the ride was crazy FULL with college kids leaving DC after the Stewart/Colbert Sanity Rally+Halloween+Homecoming ...
A quick early AM walk from the train station to the hotel...
Yes.. Sometimes, I'm in exotic locales-Antarctica, Hawaii, Paris...but sometimes you end up in Connecticuit at 5 AM! That's the life. :-)
From the train station, to the hotel, then off to SLEEP!

at 6 AM my hotel, decides to have a FIRE ALARM go off! Yay!

A few hours later.. OFF to the museum! The Peabody looks like a Cathedral. But unlike a church, the object of attention here, is evolution...
Architecture is ornate and wonderful..
INSIDE! The Peabody museum has a giant airborne Flying Architeuthis (giant squid!) swarming around!! Look out!
So..I got straight to work! Part of my trip's objectives was to identify starfish in the Yale collections that hadn't already been identified.
But being around Yale gives you the opportunity to see many unique sights. This includes this really cool classic "phylogenetic tree" poster in the hall.

It shows one of the older views of the animal "family tree" that breaks the animals into four uh..probably artificial groups. This includes the "Mollusks" and "Articulates" (=Arthropods) as well as the Vertebrates and the "Radiates" which at the time included all animals with radial symmetry-including cnidarians (i.e., corals, jellyfishes, etc.) and of course, the echinoderms...
which the artist shows here with an incredibly lavish illustration...
Another one here for the mollusks...
Another highlight, was finding some older display specimens. Dried starfish that early exhibitors had actually PAINTED so that they resembled the bright colors of the living animals!

Here's some pix of these specimens followed by their living counterparts!

The Atlantic Marthasterias glacialis

The Australian
Patiriella calcar!

The Indo-Pacific
Protoreaster linckii

The Northwest Pacific Sea Cucumber
Cucumaria miniata

I hope to follow up with more of my visit later this week, so stay tuned!

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