With a lot not on display, museums may not even know all that’s in their vast holdings.
AP Photo/Jae C. Hong
A tiny percentage of museums’ natural history holdings are on display. Very little of these vast archives is digitized and available online. But museums are working to change that.
Brazil’s gutted National Museum now resembles an archaeological ruin itself.
AP Photo/Mario Lobao
It's a comforting falsehood that once an artifact joins a museum's collection, it's safe for eternity. Museums face many foes in the fight to preserve – a lack of funds might be the biggest.
Down House: the home (and garden) of Charles Darwin.
Was Darwin inspired by the tropical wildlife of his travels to discover natural selection? Actually, pigeons, worms and barnacles were far more prominent in his thinking.
Strange frond-like sea creatures are among the planet's earliest animals, but new research dates them and the entire animal kingdom to much earlier than first thought.
America’s dogs are a husk(y) of what they once were.
Christine Zenino/Wikimedia Commons
America's early dogs are all gone – save for their rather nasty cancer.
Who gets to decide for the dead, such as this Egyptian mummy?
AP Photo/Ric Feld
Are DNA samples today's version of the human skeletons that hung in 20th-century natural history museums? They can provide genetic revelations about our species' history – but at an ethical price.
Em Campos / Shutterstock.com
Museums are not apolitical, and they are not entirely scientific. As such, they don’t really represent reality.
© UCL Grant Museum of Zoology / Jazmine Miles-Long
Dogs, rats, cats, cows, chickens and mice have also changed the world.
© Trustees of the Natural History Museum
The way humans see and engage with the natural world is anything but natural.
BBC NHU/© Justin Anderson
How and why these bizarre stars of Planet Earth II ended up living in icy lakes high in the Andes mountains.
TV audiences cheered on the iguanas' escape, but won't somebody think of the poor snakes?
This clay facial reconstruction of Kennewick Man, carefully sculpted around the morphological features of his skull, suggests how he may have looked alive nearly 9,000 years ago.
Brittney Tatchell, Smithsonian Institution
A 9,000-year-old skeleton became a high-profile and highly contested case for the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. How do we respectfully deal with ancient human remains?
A morbid curiosity makes it hard not to be fascinated.
You don't have to be a physician or anatomist to be curious about how bodies work. Exhibits of dead human specimens have been around for quite a while – capitalizing on our fascination with death.
New forms of life are discovered in high-tech ways that leave yesterday’s natural history collections in the dust.
Detective image via www.shutterstock.com.
Forget the pith helmet and butterfly net. Discovering biodiversity now is much more about metagenomics and the 0's and 1's of digital databases.
Migrants from the Middle East bound for Europe earlier this month.
Fotis Piegas G/Reuters
Viewing human migration through the lens of natural history makes one thing clear: society needs to prepare for more migrations of people and the species we depend on.
What do collections of dead butterflies do for their still-living counterparts?
Andrew D Warren
The dead animal specimens that comprise natural history collections contribute a lot toward scientific understanding of their still-living counterparts – and those that have gone extinct.
Behold the biggest animal to have ever lived.
Natural History Museum
The Natural History Museum in London is replacing its skeleton of the long-necked dinosaur Diplodocus – an iconic denizen of the main entrance hall for nearly four decades – with a blue whale skeleton…
Alexander von Humboldt selfportrait.
Gaze at Alexander Von Humboldt’s 1814 self-portrait and you peer into the eyes of a man who sought to see and understand everything. By this point in his life, at age 45, Humboldt had tutored himself in…
Crocodiles keep their own secrets.
Slow, lazy, stupid? It's time to update your impression of the crocodilians. These animals are up to amazing things that we're only beginning to observe and recognize.
Dusty collections, or the foundations of science?
The phrase “Natural History” is linked in most people’s minds today with places that use the phrase: the various Natural History Museums, or television programmes narrated so evocatively by renowned naturalist…