If a Museum needed a passenger pigeon…

Where Could You Buy a Passenger Pigeon in 1908?


Cervalces in Iowa

There’s no extinct cervid we love more than Cervalces, so it’s always a pleasure to see an article about the stag-moose.

Matthew Hill has identified countless bones found by farmers, fishermen, rock hounds and heavy equipment operators. Most of the remains turn out to be deer, bison, horse or cow bones, or simply odd looking rocks. But some discoveries turn out to be highly unusual, as was the case with an antler from an extinct Ice Age animal known as a stag-moose or elk-moose.

From Science Dailyhttp://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130919121906.htm

Net Used to Catch Passenger Pigeons

Net Used to Catch Passenger Pigeons

From the Tompkins County Museum in New York and WHCU870:
“Now extinct, passenger pigeons used to migrate by the millions from one feeding ground to another. They flocked to wheat field and buckwheat fields. Sometimes a single tree held as many as one hundred pigeon nests. The passenger pigeon was larger than the dove, and of a bluish color on top, with reddish brown underneath. The birds were long and slender with small heads and strong wings. Farmers considered them to be a nuisance.

Inhabitants had several methods of getting rid of these pests. Some shot them, or knocked them down with poles. Others stifled them by burning sulfur in pots underneath trees, and then cut down the trees to bring them down. The birds could be eaten fresh, salted, or fed to hogs to fatten them up.

People believed that there were so many pigeons that there was no danger of them ever becoming extinct. Pigeon slaughter was a legitimate industry. Some towns even set up ten dollar fines for anyone who damaged nets or attempted to set birds free from them. Unfortunately, over time the birds became scarce. Farmers saw less and less of them. The last passenger pigeon died in the Cincinnati Zoo in 1914. They are now completely extinct.

This net, donated by Court Bellis, was used by his father, Charles Bellis. It measures sixteen by twenty-four feet. Charles Billings made it in 1850, to replace one that had been damaged by the birds themselves. Bellis remembered going out with the net and catching at least 500 birds at once. The birds migrated in such large numbers that they cast a shadow on the ground, as if a large dark cloud was passing over. David Quigg, Ithaca’s first merchant, used to ship the pigeons by the barrel to New York City by horse express. Those that were not killed were examined and saved for stool pigeons.

Source: Interview with Court Bellis (in accession file 35.01)”

Fossil Rodents in France

Like little Moroccan rodents and working in Paris? This is the job for you:

Post-doctoral position at the National Museum of Natural History UMR7205, Paris, France,

 Integrative approach of the 6th extinction in Morocco: systematic and evolution of modern and fossil rodent biodiversity thanks to classic and geometric morphometrics

 Duration: 12 month

Salary: 46800 € around (tax included) / year

 The question of the 6th extinction represents today a major problem at a global scale, and especially in coastal areas much vulnerable to strong human pressure. Since the emergence of the Neolithic culture associated with the increasing impact of humans on their environment, animals such as rodents have experienced extinctions, and numerous cases of invasions are encountered in this group. In order to better characterize the impact of climatic changes and anthropic pressure that induce the current loss of biodiversity, we need to study at a populational scale the past and present evolution of the species. The phylogeographic lineages have to be linked to the morphologic ones through an integrative approach. The Morroccan littoral sites are subjected to strong anthropic pressure and landscape modifications.They have yielded good palaeontological records through time (Upper Pleistocene – Holocene), in a good stratigraphic context, with numerous rodent remains. Based on the ANR-PEX04 MOHMIE project and the important modern and fossil material collected during recent field works, classic and geometric morphometrics analysis (teeth outlines, landmarks on skulls and mandibles) will be performed 1) on sequenced (mtDNA) and karyotyped specimens of Mus, Apodemus, Gerbillus (and perhaps Meriones), incorporating as much as possible holotypes and reference specimens in museum collections, and 2) on Upper Pleistocene and Holocene fossil specimens (caves of Témara, Morocco). Refinements of the methodology to follow the lineages and populations through time by combining morphometric data with genetic (DNA microsatellites) and (palaeo) environmental data will allow a better understanding of the history of the studied species and the impact of climate change and human pressure on them. A good experience in both Geometric morphometrics and North African small mammals represents a clear advantage.

 Contacts :

Christiane DENYS, MNHN Département Systématique et Evolution – CNRS UMR 7205, Laboratoire de Zoologie Mammifères et Oiseaux – CP 51, 55 rue Buffon, 75005 Paris. 

Thomas CUCCHI, MNHN Département Ecologie et Gestion de la Biodiversité – CNRS UMR 7209, Anatomie Comparée – CP 55, 55 rue Buffon, 75005 Paris. 

Roland NESPOULET, MNHN Département de Préhistoire – CNRS UMR 7194, Bâtiment de Géologie – CP 48, 43 rue Buffon, 75005 Paris.