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Wednesday Roundup: New Animals, New Museums and New Andean Cub Names

“The Lost World” of wildlife is becoming a little less lost. A team of scientists (which included several Smithsonian experts) discovered several new species in Indonesia’s remote Foja Mountains, an area of more than 300,000 square hectares of undeveloped rainforests that have gone largely unexplor...

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The female bear cub, now named Chaska, looks up as her brother, Bernando, climbs a tree during the cubs' naming announcement this morning at the National Zoo. Photo by Mehgan Murphy.




“The Lost World” of wildlife is becoming a little less lost. A team of scientists (which included several Smithsonian experts) discovered several new species in Indonesia’s remote Foja Mountains, an area of more than 300,000 square hectares of undeveloped rainforests that have gone largely unexplored. Until now. The team of scientists spent three to four weeks surveying the area in November 2008, an expedition that yielded a new bird, at least 12 insects, a reptile, an amphibian and several mammals—including a new, tiny forest wallaby, which the scientists say is the smallest member of the kangaroo family ever to be documented. See all of the species in Conservation International’s online photo galleries. (I sure wouldn’t want to be crossed by the oversized, woolly rat, which visited the scientists' camp on several occasions. Yikes.)



Even the old can be new to those who visit the Human Origins online collection, which displays artifacts and fossils from the Museum of Natural History’s Human Origins exhibit. The online collection, dubbed “BC in 3D,” has several interactive features, including a mystery skull game that lets visitors play scientist as they identify ancient fossils. While you're at it, morph yourself into a Neanderthal with the MEanderthal Mobile App, also part of the Human Origins exhibit. The app is free to download for the iPhone or the Android—just don't blame us if you think a hairier,ungroomed version of yourself isn't flattering.



You can not only play scientist, but play curator too at the Museum of Online Museums, which we discovered thanks to the "link love" by our friends over at the Bigger Picture blog. The MOOM lists links to dozens of museums and collections around the world. The list is updated quarterly, and past editions are virtually archived, which means endless opportunities to explore all kinds of museums, from the Book Cover Appreciation Gallery to our own American Art Museum. The best part? The site keeps track of which museums you’ve visited with a running virtual checklist down the center of the page. I think I’m in love.



We’re all in love with the new Andean Bear cubs at the National Zoo who, this morning, finally got names. After nearly 5,000 visitors voted in the zoo's online poll, Chaska (pronounced Chas'-kuh), which means "dawn star," was the winning name for the girl cub, and Bernardo, which means “brave like a bear,” was the winning name for her brother. Chaska won by a narrow margin, beating out the name Paqarina by just 72 votes. Bernardo (which is also the name of the Ambassador of Venezuela, Bernardo Alvarez) got 42 percent of the votes. Test out the names this Saturday, when the bears make their public debut.

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