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The climate clues found in LA’s Natural History Museum specimens

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Visit the active labs and collections rooms at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County to learn why scientists collect and study specimens from land and water, from ancient plants to today’s migrating birds, to artifacts created from nature in human history.

What clues do these museum specimens provide? What big picture do they create as we strive to understand our rapidly changing planet?

In this video, Our Lens on Earth’s Climate, NHM LAC educator Tony Turner takes us on a 12.5-minute behind-the-scenes tour of NHM and the La Brea Tar Pits and Museum to hear from scientists, curators, and directors who catalog and research the biodiversity of our planet.

In the back rooms right now, are scientists working on cutting-edge research that gives us insights into today’s world. And our collections help us better understand some of the most pressing issues being discussed in the world right now, including climate change.


marine specimens
The video features paleobotanist Dr. Regan Dunn, ornithologists Dr. Allison Schultz and Kimball Garrett, biodiversity research scientists Dr. Regina Wetzer and Dean Pentcheff, invertebrate paleontologist Dr. Austin Hendy, and anthropologist Dr. Amy Gusick, who summarizes:

I can’t study humans without understanding how climate can impact ancient societies. Climate and changes in climate have a really, really big impact on these kinds of societies because they rely on the resources. And when you have really rapid changes in climate—so droughts or ice ages—that can have a really big impact on the environment, on habitats, on species, and therefore a big impact on the people that rely on those species…

I think sometimes when people think about an ecosystem, they immediately think about… plants and animals, which is great, but they need to remember that we are also animals. We’re part of this ecosystem.


Watch more specimen, ecosystem, biodiversity, and climate change videos on TKSST, including:
• Why are museum collections so important? Sir David Attenborough explains
• Why is biodiversity so important?
• 3D scanning the final meal of an anglerfish
• Preserving the Forest of the Sea
• What’s In a 20,000 Year-Old Cube of Ice?
• Shelf Life: 33 Million Things at the American Museum of Natural History

Follow this with some solutions, including natural climate solutions.

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