Natural History Museum

This month, Portraits, a podcast from the National Portrait Gallery, revisits "Finding Cleopatra," a Sidedoor episode with host Lizzie Peabody exploring the life of the artist Edmonia Lewis (above: a photographic portrait by Henry Rocher, c. 1890).

Cleopatra’s Iconoclastic Sculptor Was Her Own Kind of Queen

Smithsonian podcasts delve into the life of Edmonia Lewis, how astronauts sleep, the evolution of the human brain; and drop in on painter Kay WalkingStick

The newly discovered Opisthiamimus gregori preys on a now-extinct water bug.

Scientists Discover Bug-Eating Reptile That Lived Among Dinosaurs

Delicate fossil reveals a cousin of the modern tuatara

One reader wonders: Why do we see the Moon during the day and not the Sun at night?

Why Can We See the Moon During the Day? And More Questions From Our Readers

You've got questions. We've got experts.

At American Fossil Quarry, on privately owned land near Kemmerer, Wyoming, hammer- and chisel-wielding visitors pay $69 to $89 to spend up to four hours hunting for fossils. Finders, keepers.

Evotourism ®

The 50 Million-Year-Old Treasures of Fossil Lake

In a forbidding Wyoming desert, scientists and fortune hunters search for the surprisingly intact remains of horses and other creatures that lived long ago

Researcher David Webster of the University of North Carolina Wilmington prepares the bones of an Atlantic gray whale for transfer to the National Museum of Natural History.

Scientists Find Most Complete Atlantic Gray Whale Skeleton Ever

The fossil, uncovered in North Carolina, shows signs of butchering

In Blaine, Washington, after the 2020 appearance of the two-inch long invasive species Vespa mandarinia (above: Washington State entomologist Chris Looney holds a native bald-faced hornet to compare it with the huge size of the invader), scientists worked to eradicate it.

Giant 'Murder' Hornet Has Landed at the Natural History Museum

After scientists studied the invasive insect, visitors are getting a first look at the fierce creature that could wreak havoc on U.S. agriculture

Roughly two million years old, this tool, known as the Kanjera stone, was part of a new Stone Age technology that helped make better-fed, smarter hominins.
 

This Is the Oldest Human-Made Object in the Smithsonian Collections

Roughly two million years ago, simple items like the Kanjera tool sparked a revolution in the way humans lived

One reader wonders: Since purple dye was scarce, why didn’t people just combine blue and red?

Why Was Purple the Color of Royalty? And More Questions From Our Readers

You've got questions. We've got experts.

In her new historic novel, Brooks reimagines the life of the itinerant artist Thomas J. Scott, who rendered the distinguished race horse in the oil painting, Portrait of Lexington, ca. 1857, a work that Smithsonian curator Eleanor Harvey describes as "visually riveting."

The Lost Story of Lexington, the Record-Breaking Thoroughbred, Races Back to Life

For her latest novel “Horse,” the Pulitzer-prize winning author Geraldine Brooks found inspiration in the Smithsonian collections

One reader wonders why men’s bicycles have crossbars but not women’s.


 

Why Do Only Men's Bicycles Have Crossbars? And More Questions From Our Readers

You've got questions. We've got experts.

A new book, coedited by Smithsonian entomologist Ted Schultz, explores and the fascinating ways in which human and nonhuman farmers compare, and asks what we might learn from other agricultural species.

Could Ants, Termites and Fishes Make Humans Better Farmers?

Scientists are now revealing the agricultural expertise that other species have cultivated for tens of millions of years

A male Philoponella prominens spider (top) mates with a female.

This Male Spider Catapults Itself Into the Air to Avoid Sexual Cannibalism

The arachnids propel themselves to safety at breakneck speeds after they’ve mated to avoid being eaten alive

One reader wonders how birds stay balanced on tree branches while they’re asleep. 
 

Ask Smithsonian

How Do Birds Stay Upright When They Are Sleeping?

You've got questions. We've got experts

The near-complete dinosaur fossil was sold at auction at Christie's to an anonymous buyer in October 2020 and many speculated that the dinosaur was lost to science.

Stan the T. Rex Will Be the Star of a New Museum in Abu Dhabi

The natural history museum will chronicle the story of the universe and life on Earth with a focus on the Arabian Peninsula's flora and fauna

The Smithsonian has 39 of the Benin pieces in its collections, above: Commemorative head of a king, Edo artist, 18th century.

The Smithsonian's Plan to Return the Benin Bronzes Comes After Years of Relationship Building

The ground-breaking move heralds a new path for interactions between African and Western institutions

One reader wonders if European modernists thought of the American painter Georgia O’Keeffe as a remarkable artist.
 

Ask Smithsonian

Was Georgia O'Keeffe's Genius Appreciated Outside of America? And More Questions From Our Readers

You've got questions. We've got experts.

Nick Pyenson, the Smithsonian Institution’s curator of fossil marine mammals, compares the skeletons of ancient whales to the life-sized model of a North Atlantic right whale displayed at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC. Whales have been evolving for more than 50 million years, and long before becoming ocean-dwelling giants, the earliest cetaceans walked on land. 

This Cliff Face Is Packed With Fossilized Whale Remains

An exposed prehistoric seafloor is a hotspot for relics, and now an international team is helping unravel their mysteries

The 55-faceted gemstone is believed to be the largest cut black diamond in the world.

A Huge Black Diamond, Purportedly From Outer Space, Is Now Up for Sale

The gem known as the 'Enigma' is expected to fetch around $7 million at auction, though experts are skeptical of its cosmic origin

The explosion was likely the biggest volcanic eruption recorded anywhere on the planet in more than 30 years.

Why the Eruption in Tonga Was a 'Once-in-a-Millennium' Event for the Volcano

The blast, which sent tsunami waves across the Pacific, left thousands of Tongans without access to water and power

The remote Kibish Formation, in southern Ethiopia, features layered deposits more than 300 feet thick that have preserved many ancient human tools and remains. 

East Africa's Oldest Modern Human Fossil Is Way Older Than Previously Thought

Analysis of ash from a massive volcanic eruption places the famed Omo I fossil 36,000 years back in time

loading icon