Image description: Affectionately referred to as “Mr. Cycle,” this device from the collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of American History was the first prototype polymerase chain reaction (PCR) machine.
PCR was a revolutionary laboratory technique developed in 1983 that allows scientists to quickly and inexpensively copy segments of DNA. It’s also an important tool in the field of biotechnology, which is the use of biological processes or organisms to create products or technologies for human use.
See more objects from the new exhibit “The Birth of Biotech.”
Image description: This bee specimen found at Butte National Monument, Wyoming, had no common name. After folks at the National Wildlife Federation referred to it as the “Billy Idol Bee”, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientist-in-charge decided to declare this species’ common name to be “Billy Idol Melecta.”
Photo by Sam Droege, USGS.
Image description: This photo shows what’s known as a cloud inversion at Mather Point on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.
Cloud inversions form through the interaction of warm and cold weather masses and occur at the Grand Canyon about once every 10 years.
You can see more photos of the cloud inversion on the Grand Canyon’s Flickr account.
From the Department of Interior:
Over the last few days you might have seen a few photos of the recent and rare inversion(s) at Grand Canyon National Park. We hope one more will be okay. Here’s another stunning photo from Mather Point.
NPS Photo by Erin Whittaker
Image description: The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) recently shared this story:
BLM Archaeologist Tech Discovers “King of Gore” at Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Ten million years before the T. rex walked the earth, another monster reigned. The 80 million-year-old fossil of the Lythronax argestes or “King of Gore” was recently discovered by Scott Richardson, a Bureau of Land Management archaeologist technician at the Wahweap Formation in BLM-Utah’s Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.
Lythronax is now the oldest known species of tyrannosaur and is believed to be a close cousin to the T. rex. The back of its skull is wide and its eyes face forward, allowing it to see with overlapping fields of view (“binocular vision”) and providing an incredible advantage for a predator. Previously, scientists thought the T. rex was the first dinosaur to have this evolutionary advantage.
Over the past fourteen years, crews from GSENM, the Natural History Museum of Utah and several other partner institutions have uncovered skeletons of more than a dozen species of dinosaurs in the national monument. They have also found fossil plants, insect traces, fish, crocodiles, mammals and other signs of ancient life. Together, these fossils offer one of the world’s most comprehensive views into a Mesozoic ecosystem.
The discovery of Lythronax is exciting because it shows just how much we still have to learn about the world of dinosaurs. Because this dinosaur is so similar to the T. rex, yet lived so long before it, its discovery hints to the fact that there are many species of tyrannosaur in the American Southwest yet to be found.
A joint NHMU-GSENM team excavated the skeleton. Research on the dinosaur was largely funded by the BLM and the National Science Foundation. Lythronax is currently on display at the Natural History Museum of Utah. Visit the museum’s website for more information about the new dinosaur discovery and to watch a video about the find: http://nhmu.utah.edu/gore-king-southwest-lythronax-argestes.
Story by Courtney Whiteman, Public Affairs Specialist, BLM National Office; photos courtesy of the Natural History Museum of Utah
Image description: NASA Administrator Charles Bolden greets Lucas Yaroschuk, 3, of Arlington, Va., during a stargazing event at Hoffman-Boston Elementary School in Arlington, Va. on November 7, 2013.
Photo by Jay Westcott, NASA.