Author: Abigail Eisenstadt

Abigail Eisenstadt

Abigail Eisenstadt is a Communications Assistant at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. She brings science to the public via the museum's Office of Communications and Public Affairs, where she tracks media coverage, coordinates filming activities, and writes for the museum’s blog, Smithsonian Voices. Abigail received her master's in science journalism from Boston University. In her free time, she is either outdoors or in the kitchen.

The parasitoid samurai wasp, Trissolcus japonicus, is one of many microscopic wasps being studied and sometimes used as biocontrol agents in the fight against invasive species. (Elijah Talamas, USDA)
This fossilized dinosaur head and vertebrae were discovered in 1883 but only recently gained its name, Smitanosaurus agilis. (Smithsonian)
This is a giant spindle magnetofossil, created by a mysterious creature over 50 million years ago. So far, the iron fossils have only been found during two periods of intense global warming. (Kenneth Livi, Courtney Wagner, and Ioan Lascu)
The Tuatara, Sphenodon punctatus, is a unique reptile found in New Zealand. New research suggests the species has two mitochondrial genomes. (Robert Sprackland)
These walrus ivory carvings were collected in the mid-1880s. They were featured in a catalogue for the exhibition
The Volta’s electric eel, Electrophorus voltai, emits the strongest shocks of any animal on Earth. Although these eels were thought to be loners, the species was recently seen hunting in a group. (L. Sousa)
By studying recent mass extinctions on islands like Hawaii, Dr. Helen James is painting a picture of bird biodiversity today. Her research involves digging up fossils in caves to study bygone species, like the Kioea. (Johnny Gibbons)
The original photos from late 1800s by famous snowflake photographer Wilson “Snowflake” Bentley, are stored in the Smithsonian Archives. His pictures were instrumental in helping scientists examine snow’s crystalline properties. (Erin Malsbury, Smithsonian Open Access, Wilson A. Bentley)

Why Scientists Find Snowflakes Cool

December 21st, 2020, 6:00AM
The National Museum of Natural History’s newest curator in the paleobiology department, Dr. Stewart Edie, opens a drawer with mollusk fossils in the museum’s invertebrate paleobiology collection. (Katie Collins, National History Museum, London)
Although pumpkins and other gourds have become staples at Thanksgiving, they were not the only original crops in the Americas. Other crops domesticated around the same time, like sumpweed, little barley and goosefoot, are now gone from today’s palates. (Smithsonian)
The National Museum of Natural History’s entomology collection has many Asian giant hornets. Recently, the collection grew with new specimens from an eradicated nest in Washington State. (Matthew Buffington, USDA-ARS)
The Hope Diamond came to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in 1958. Since then, museum scientists have uncovered a lot about the diamond’s intriguing past. (Dane A. Penland, Smithsonian)
This mummified steppe bison was donated to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in the 1970s. Right now, museum audiences can see it online during a virtual tour. (Michelle Pinsdorf, Smithsonian)
Bennu is shaped like a three-dimensional diamond and seemingly smooth from far away. OSIRIS-REx is in the foreground of this artist’s replication. The spacecraft will gather a sample from Bennu next week. (NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona)
Giant squids can grow to over 40 feet long. The Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History has a giant squid specimen on display in the Sant Ocean Hall and several others in its collections. (John Steiner, Smithsonian)
Southern elephant seals normally live in the South Atlantic, often as far south as Antarctica. These are young male Southern elephant seals from the South Shetland and Anvers islands, Antarctica. (Daniel Costa / University of California, Santa Cruz under the National Marine Fisheries Service permits (numbers 87-1593 and 87-1851-00) and ACA authorization)
Not much is known about the megamouth, which was first observed by scientists in 1976. A new specimen (not pictured above) has traveled to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, where researchers will study it to learn more about its behavior and life cycle. (Zola Chen)
The neotropical rattlesnake, Crotalus durissus, inhabits at least 11 South American countries. This species of viper is widespread and thrives in dry climates. (Carla da Silva Guimarães)
The Chaco Canyon chocolate-drinking jars have a distinct shape, with connections to similarly shaped Mayan vessels. After testing distinguishable jar fragments from an excavated trash pile in in the canyon, archaeologists determined all of the drinking jars were used to consume cacao. (A336494, A336499, A336493, James Di Loreto, Smithsonian)
The National Museum of Natural History’s Lepidoptera collection holds up to half of the world's species of hawk moths, important pollinators for many wild ecosystems. There are over 1450 species of hawk moths in total on Earth. (Smithsonian)
The Asian Giant Hornet, Vespa mandarinia, can grow up to two inches long and is a species not native to North America. The National Insect Collection, co-curated by the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), houses one of the first specimens collected in North America (Michael Gates, USDA).