We’re excited about our newest special exhibit, Creatures of Light: Nature’s Bioluminescence, created by the American Museum of Natural History. The exhibit made its debut in 2012 and the curator John Sparks, an associate curator in the museum’s Department of Ichthyology, a professor in the museum’s Richard Gilder Graduate School, and an adjunct professor in the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology at Columbia University, described his work on the exhibit in a series of museum blogs. Continue reading to discover what went into the making of this incredible exhibit.
Behind the Scenes: Keeping It Current
By John Sparks, from a Museum of Natural History blog
One of the most exciting, yet challenging, things about this exhibition is that we have been able to incorporate so much current research. Many of the images and results visitors will see are the subject of ongoing research projects by me and a number of collaborators.
For example, Museum Research Associate David Gruber, an assistant professor at The City University of New York (CUNY), and I captured most of the dazzling images of fluorescent fishes shown on the Bloody Bay Wall interactive exhibit in Creatures of Light less than three months ago. The striking images and information presented on deep-sea siphonophores, including a bizarre member of the genus Erenna studied by marine biologist Steven Haddock of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), are still in the process of being collected and are more or less being sent directly from the field.
The particular species of Erenna that we are featuring uses blue bioluminescent light produced in specialized tentacles to excite red fluorescent lures that this “superorganism”—a colony of highly specialized polyps with a variety of functions, including feeding, movement, buoyancy, and reproduction—uses to attract prey. More information on these strange creatures can be found here.
Creatures of Light is open at the Michigan Science Center through January 15, 2017!
Past blogs in this series: