Entomology Collection at Drexel University in Philadelphia

The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University in Philadelphia is America’s oldest natural history museum. Established in 1812, it has a collection of 19 million specimens, with 4 million insect specimens, representing about 100,000 species of insects. 

Jon Gelhaus is Curator of Entomology at the ANS, where he has worked since 1990. He looks after the Entomology Collection. Since 2012, he has also been Professor in the Biodiversity, Earth and Environmental Science department where he teaches courses in Conservation Biology, Entomology, and Plant and Animal Identification. Entomology is the study of insects.

Jon Gelhaus and Jennifer Sontchi, Senior Director of Exhibits and Public Spaces at The Academy of Natural Sciences (ANS), presented a small portion of the collection during a live streaming event on 12 August 2021.

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RESEARCH: The four most common wild bird species in the world

There are 50 billion wild birds on Earth – but four species dominate – says a New Scientist article on 17 May 2021.

Earth has around 50 billion wild bird species according to a new global estimate, but most species are very rare and only a handful number in the billions.

Just four wild species have over a billion individuals, and they are the most common wild bird species in the world. This is in contrast to 1,180 species that have less than 5,000 individual birds each.

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RESEARCH: Humans love big animals

All creatures great and small, but which ones are the best of all?

Humans seem to love big animals. Research scientists have found that people think that larger animals are more charismatic than smaller ones, with some exceptions.

Scientist Emilio Berti, previously from the Aarhus University in Denmark, and his colleagues, compiled information from 9 existing datasets on animal charisma. Some datasets included information from volunteers about their attitude to particular species of birds and mammals. Other datasets included information on the number of Wikipedia page views seen by readers for particular species of animals, and the number of images of species posted to Twitter and the photo-sharing site Flickr.

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What is the IUCN Red List?

What is the IUCN Red List?

The IUCN is the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

The IUCN, amongst other tasks, compiles a list of animals and plants from around the word that are considered to be threatened – in danger of becoming extinct. The inventory, or list, is called the Red List of Threatened Species.

The aim of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species is to create a ‘universally accepted system of classification of species at high risk of extinction globally.’ It is an international standard with a scientifically tested assessment. 

Each species is assessed according to a set of established criteria, and rated on a scale ranging from ‘least concern’ to ‘extinct.’

The classifications are:

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RESEARCH: Tracking Red Pandas in Nepal

Research scientists are satellite tracking the movements of Red Pandas in the mountains of Nepal. 

Red Pandas (Ailurus fulgens) are endangered and there are only a few thousand individuals in their native environment in the eastern Himalayas and in southwestern China. The population numbers are declining due to habitat loss, poaching (illegal hunting), and inbreeding. 

In Nepal, Red Pandas are a protected species. The conservation scientists have put Global Positioning System (GPS) collars on 10 Red Pandas to remotely monitor their range of movements in the forests near Mount Kangchenjunga. 

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Tasmanian Tiger

The Tasmanian Tiger (Thylacinus cynocephalus) is an extinct Australian marsupial mammal. It was also called Tasmanian Wolf. It was not a tiger, nor a wolf, nor a dog (canid). It was a dog-like animal with stripes called a Thylacine. Extinct means that it is no longer living. The species has died out.

The Tasmanian Tiger was sandy-coloured with short soft hair and dark stripes on its back and its long tail. It had a pouch (similar to kangaroos and other marsupial mammals) to care for its young. Both male and female Tasmanian Tigers had a pouch, but only females had mammary glands in her pouch. It has a dog-like snout, round ears, and dark eyes. It had dog-like paws.

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