New Research: Out of the cabinet: Specimens waiting to be revealed

Congratulations to Dena Smith, Curator of Invertebrate Paleontology and Associate Professor of Geological Sciences at the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History. A new study entitled The fossil record and macroevolutionary history of the beetles by Dr. Smith and coauthor, Jonathan Marcot, Research Assistant Professor of Animal Biology at the University of Illinois was published in the March 18, 2015 edition of Proceedings B of the Royal Society.
Weevil  Curculionidae (the snout-beetles)
about 45 million years ago, Green River Formation of Colorado
Photo: Lindsay Walker

The study explores beetles as far back as their origins in the Permian period, 284 million years ago. When compared to the fossil record of other animal groups such as clams, corals, and vertebrates, beetles have among the lowest family-level extinction rates ever calculated.
 
          “Being a curator of a museum collection, I know that there are many species in our cabinets that have not yet been studied and described,” Smith says. “Once we are able to bring those specimens out of the cabinets and make  them more accessible to the broader research community, I think we will be able to look at species level patterns and other really interesting questions about the macroevolutionary history of insect groups.”
 
To read the full study and learn more about this research visit these links.
 

Citizen Science Project: The Bees’ Needs

The Bees’ Needs is a Citizen Science project of the CU Museum of Natural History. We are studying the diversity and abundance of solitary native bees in communities across the Northern Front Range of Colorado. To do this, we give our volunteers Bee Blocks, where their solitary bees can nest, and then we ask them to look at the blocks every two weeks during the breeding season to tell us if they see signs of nesting bees. The native bees that breed in these blocks are docile and unlikely to sting and they are very important components of healthy ecosystems.

Unfortunately, we’ve signed up all of our citizen scientists for this year already. But you can learn more about our research, native solitary bees and wasps, find a design for making your own Bee Block, and see what our volunteers are discovering by exploring our website and blog, via http://beesneeds.colorado.edu.