Members' Night, Mammoths and Spiders Oh My
I went in to the Field Museum bird division this morning for my usual shift of working on study skins. I completed three today: two Connecticut Warblers (Geothylpis agilis), and one Magnolia Warbler (Dendroica magnolia). All were window kills from last fall.
The lab was the cleanest I have ever seen it. That was because tonight and tomorrow night are Members' Night at the Field. Scientists were busy scurrying about to get everything neat and tidy, and their displays set up. I stopped by a room with two entomologists setting up gorgeous specimen displays of various insects and arachnids (see above photos). I met one of the resident Mexican Redknee Tarantulas. It was a young (7 months) male; er, most likely male, anyway. Redknees can live up to 30 years. I am not a arachnophobe, per se, but usually like to keep a respectful distance from our eight legged friends. I was not afforded the luxury of distance when one of the entomologists, without asking, cheerily plopped Mr. Brachypelma smithi into my hand with a "Here ya' go!". The tarantula relaxed in to my palm, as I looked at its 2, no 4, wait...nevermind...eyes. I was calm, so it was calm. He was soft and docile, and I was little bummed when he had to return to his aquarium. I have a feeling Mr. Brachypelma will be working the crowds tonight.
After my close arachnid encounter, I wandered down to visit the new Mammoths and Mastodons exhibit, featuring the amazing, preserved baby woolly mammoth: Lyuba.