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Introducing North Carolina

Posted on 12-10-2017 by Becky Desjardins

Greetings from Becky Desjardins from the USA!

I have been on expedition to the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences for three weeks so far. In case you don’t know, North Carolina is a state on the east coast of the United States, located about halfway between Florida and Washington DC. Here are a few bits of trivia:

  • North Carolina has 58 species of salamander, more than any other state.

  • This state also has more species of carnivorous plant than anywhere else in the United States (it is the only place in the world Venus Flytraps grow wild).

  • In North Carolina there are 43 mountain peaks higher than 1829 meters, which is more than than any other state east of the Rocky Mountains.

  • Some of the oldest trees in the USA are found here: 1700 years old.

  • There are more than 8000 species of fungi found here, more than any place else in the United States.

Historical marker

The Museum of Natural Sciences is nearly 150 years old. It was created when the state owned geologic and agricultural collections were combined in 1879. In 1880, two British Brothers, Herbert Hutchinson and Clement Samuel Brimley, were hired to run the museum. One was a scientific collector, while the other worked designing programs and exhibits for the public. They stayed, expanding the collections, exhibits, and educational offerings until the 1940s.  The museum continued to grow over the next decades and in 2000 a new museum building opened highlighting the natural history of North Carolina.  This building is the largest natural history museum in the Southeast. Shortly after, the museum acquired space for a 17 hectare Eco station on the outskirts of the city. Finally, in 2011, a third building, the Nature Research Center, opened adjacent to the first one. These exhibit highlights the research performed in the museum and allows the public to experience science up close. There are now over a million specimens in the collections here.

North Carolina State Museum of Natural Sciences

I have been on expedition to the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences for three weeks, and so far, it has been a great experience! Mostly I have been busy preparing: first I did about 20 birds and a handful of mammals that will go back to Naturalis to be included in the collections there, but now I am busy preparing things that will stay here.  My hosts, Bird Curator John Gerwin and Collection Manager Brian O’Shea are taking advantage of my experience by giving me challenging birds to work on!  

In addition, I have been helping with field work: ringing birds at a few different sites, and helping with the monitoring of the cotton rat population at the museum’s ecostation.  There is really a lot going on! Over the next few weeks, I will highlight my adventures through this blog.  As they say here:  There is nothing finer than North Carolina!

The Nature Research Center

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