Science in the Summer
As summer bakes Manhattan, Museum curators head out of the city on field expeditions. Not that the climate is any less sultry in the Congo River Basin, where Melanie Stiassny recently found blind fish surfacing with catastrophic decompression syndrome, suggesting that they came from great depths. She'll return to investigate and map the river channel with Doppler equipment. In nearby Angola, John Flynn will prospect strata from near the end of the Age of Dinosaurs more than 65 million years ago for fossilized vertebrates before moving on to the Peruvian Amazon for younger specimens. Also exploring the tropics will be herpetologist Christopher Raxworthy. He'll travel Madagascar's unexplored eastern coast in hopes of discovering new species of chameleons and geckos.
Several scientists will journey north. Paleontologist John Maisey plans to survey for 375-million-year-old shark fossils on a cool, evergreen-cloaked island in the Tongass National Forest of Alaska. Maisey hopes that new specimens will help pin down the origins of jawed vertebrates. Ross MacPhee also moves north to search for mammoth frozen in permafrost. If a well-preserved specimen older than a quarter of a million years is found, analysis of its DNA could sort out the genetic relationships among different species of Mammuthus. David Hurst Thomas will head west and upward to 12,000 feet in Nevada where he'll remap the highest North American Indian village ever found, Alta Toquima, with modern technology. The archaeological site is so remote that access is only by horseback.
Other expeditions in the U. S include one to the Great Plains, formerly an epicontinental sea with an abundant population of ammonites, where paleontologist Neil Landman will travel in search of new specimens. …