Making Science Fun
In 2012, AmphibiaWeb considered various ways to celebrate the scientific description of the 7000th species of amphibian. We decided to celebrate with a new song created for the occasion by the Wiggly Tendrils, which was later animated by the Viz Studio at the California Academy of Sciences. This was well received by both the general public and colleagues, and even received nice press from NPR.
Based on this, Dave Blackburn and the Wiggly Tendrils decided to celebrate another 'amphibian milestone' with the description of the 200th species of caecilian. This song was even 'peer-reviewed' by our colleague Dr. Marvalee Wake, a noted caecilian expert. We then collaborated with students in an animation course at Ex'pression College in Emeryville, California to animate this song, complete with a 'caecilian scientist' and dance scenes. Check out the 'Caecilian Cotillion' song and the animated video.
The Wiggly Tendrils also recorded another song about amphibians! Check out 'Rock N Roll Like a Tadpole'!
Training the Next Generation
We are committed to training students and scientists in the US and abroad. We train graduate and undergraduate students in the lab and museum collections, as well as during fieldwork in Africa. In addition, Dave Blackburn has co-led formal training courses related to herpetology and biodiversity surveys, most recently in Uganda (2014), Cameroon (2015), and Namibia (2016).
We are interested to host students and colleagues here at the Florida Museum of Natural History and with us during field research. In the last two years, our lab has hosted researchers from the US, Cameroon, Gabon, India, Sweden, and the UK. If you are interested in opportunities and collaborations, please contact someone in the lab.
Interested to learn more about amphibians? Check out AmphibiaWeb. The site has lots of great resources including details on species diversity, conservation, news updates, new species, an image browser arranged taxonomically, and much more. There's also a new portal for accessing datasets on amphibian disease.
Interested in Digital Anatomy? Check out our MorphoSource page with 3D volumes of amphibian and reptile specimens at the Florida Museum of Natural History.
There are many other great resources for learning more about amphibians and reptiles. Here are just a few:
Amphibian Species of the World
The Reptile Database
International Union for the Conservation of Nature Red List
USGS Amphibian Research and Monitoring Initiative
We believe strongly that part of our mission as museum scientists is to communicate our science to the public. Whether it is through exhibits, classroom activities, talking to students on the public floor, or through new forums such as Reddit's Ask Me Anything, we are keen to use our excitement about biodiversity to inspire kids and adults about the natural world.
Our work is featured in two current exhibits at the California Academy of Sciences ('the Color of Life', and a mini-exhibit on amphibians featuring the Lake Oku Clawed Frog that we brought back from our work in Cameroon). 3D-printed skulls based on CT scans from our work were also featured in that museum's recent 'Skulls' exhibit.