Back in May 2020 we posted a blog called “The Neuroscience of Discovery.” Based on observations from The Brain in Context (by J.D. Moreno and J. Schulkin), that blog highlighted – in scientific terms – how our brains are wired for discovery and exploration.
Turns out that our brains are also wired for cooperation and empathy. Here are a few excerpts from the book:
“Perceiving another’s misfortune, their psychic or literal pain, requires a wide array of both cortical and sub cortical tissue.” (p 53-4)
“Human evolution, like our cultural development, is marked by many neural/cognitive events, but social capabilities [are involved in] most of them.” (p 183)
“Cooperation is as critical as competition [in science], because we need to learn from one another and to develop new ideas.” (p 192)
So, what does this mean to you and me?
It means that humans evolved through expression of social behaviors, and through the integration of those behaviors within the very functioning of our brain.
It means that adapting socially, and being good at interacting with others, is at the heart of our evolution as a species.
It means that “although we may think of ourselves as individuals, the truth is that we are designed to work together, revealing our evolutionary drive toward social cooperation and our neurodevelopmental proclivity toward shared decision-making.” (Moreno and Schulkin p 199)
It means that we are wired to cooperate, and to work at understanding each other.
(If you want to learn more about recent developments in neuroscience, here’s a link to The Brain in Context: A Pragmatic Guide to Neuroscience by Jonathan D. Moreno and Jay Schulkin)
Dope Is Death is the story of how Dr. Mutulu Shakur, stepfather of Tupac Shakur, along with fellow Black Panthers and the Young Lords, combined community health with radical politics to create the first acupuncture detoxification program in America in 1973 – a visionary project eventually deemed too dangerous to exist.
This is a free event.
The event is presented by Fort Collins Museum of Discovery in collaboration with ACT Film Festival, SummitStone, Unite Us, and Northpoint Colorado.
Did you know May 23 is world turtle day? If you didn’t, now you do – why not take a moment to shell-eborate one of the more unusual reptile species we share our planet with? Remember, you can view our ornate box turtle at Fort Collins Museum of Discovery anytime!
So what makes a turtle a turtle?
Turtles are reptiles, and ectotherms, or cold-blooded animals. Like snakes, lizards, and crocodiles, they can’t generate body heat the way mammals do. Instead, they rely on the environment to regulate their temperature, moving into warmer or colder areas to suit their needs.
Because of their cold-blooded nature, most turtles prefer to live in warm climates, from toasty deserts to jungle rivers to tropical seas. But there are turtles living right here in our very own snowy Colorado, too! How do they do it? By digging far enough into the earth in winter that even the frost can’t reach them. In a kind of statis, they wait out the cold months, and emerge again when the weather warms. Probably something we’ve all wished we could do, too.
It’s a common misconception that all turtles can swim.
It’s a common misconception that all turtles can swim. Take the ornate box turtle (one of those Colorado natives we were talking about), which prefers life on land and is highly adapted to digging into dirt and leaf litter. Unlike streamlined aquatic turtles, box turtles have big boxy shells!
Think of a turtle’s shell like a knight’s coat of armor. Their shells protect them from danger, allowing some species to entirely retreat inside their shells when threatened. But unlike a knight with his armor, turtle shells are actually a part of their body. The base of their shell is actually bone – ribs and vertebrae that have fused together to form the framework for this amazing adaptation. And while the framework is all bone, on the outside, they’re covered in a surprisingly familiar material. Take a look at your fingernails – that same keratin that makes up your nails and hair is what covers a turtle’s shell in hard segments called scutes. And yes, it’s pronounced “scoots”.
While many species of turtle are herbivorous, eating exclusively plants, there are still some species which live on a carnivorous diet of fish and insects. Plenty of turtles don’t discriminate, either, opting for an omnivorous diet which consists of both plants and animals.
But some turtle species are picky – really picky. Leatherback sea turtles only eat jellyfish!
Turtles are all over the place, including on land and in the sea. They eat plants sometimes, and bugs sometimes, and occasionally both, or neither! At least all turtles have that hard, keratin-covered shell in common, right?
Not quite. Have you ever heard of softshell turtles? This family of turtles swapped their hard scutes out for a layer of leathery skin, giving them a unique look among their order. But why trade away the protection of a hard shell? These turtles opt for speed instead of armor, and a leathery shell gives them some of the protection of a hard carapace without sacrificing speed.
As it turns out, turtles come in all shapes and sizes
Who knew there were so many different kinds of turtles out there? Next time you’re walking along the edge of a pond, or taking a hike through the woods, keep an eye peeled for something small and beshelled. It might be digging in the dirt, sunning itself on rocks, swimming in open water, or buried in the mud; it might be hunting minnows and shrimp, or just nibbling on dandelions, or maybe even looking for jellyfish – because, as it turns out, turtles come in all shapes and sizes!
Glossary of World Turtle Day Terms
Ectotherm – An animal that is not capable of generating its own body heat.
Vertebrae – The bones that make up your spine.
Keratin – A tough material that makes up the hair, nails, and horns of animals.
Scute – A hardened plate of keratin or bone.
Herbivore – An animal whose diet consists of plants.
Carnivore – An animal whose diet consists of other animals.
Omnivore – An animal whose diet consists of a mixture of plants and other animals.
Carapace -The top half of an animal’s shell. Can refer to the shells of arthropods like crabs and scorpions, or those of turtles. The underside of a turtle’s shell is called a plastron.
Have you paid a visit to our Archive and Collections recently?
The Archive and Collections team is made up of a dedicated seven person team whose work keeps the stories of Fort Collins and the Front Range alive. Tasked with making discoveries every day, many of the tens of thousands of items housed at the museum come right from our community.
Recently, we caught up with Linda Moore, our Curator of Collections, to talk about what is going on at Fort Collins Museum of Discovery’s Archive and Collections.
Our Archive and Collections team is a regional touchpoint, connecting us to the past, and we love having them here. If you have questions for Archive and Collections, you can connect with them in a number of ways.
Hi Linda, can you give us an idea as to how much has been collected recently?
Linda: In 2021, we received 240 object donations, including 16 objects specific to the COVID-19 pandemic. We put together a website with a sampling of images of new donations.
What are the highlights from the recent collections efforts?
Other than objects that continue to come in representing the current and recently past COVID-19 pandemic, we received a large donation of T-shirts and pint glasses representing the Downtown Business Association’s evolving celebration of local brewing over the past 27 years or so. We received some timely objects from the presidential campaigns of 2020 and we also received handmade textiles created by local women in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
What is one of the most unique donations requests you’ve received?
We recently received a music writer – it is a typewriter that types musical notation. It’s about 50 years old and it helped automate music writing back in the day. It’s really special to be put in touch with objects like this.
How did it come about?
One of the inventors of it was in the Colorado State University music department and it came to us via that person.
That’s really interesting. How much of the collections come directly from the community like that?
We respond to Fort Collins community members’ offers of items to be donated. Occasionally we make a call-out to the community via social media for objects related to specific themes, like our recent request for objects and experiences related to the pandemic and actions in support of social justice. When we develop in-house exhibits we issue a call out for relevant objects our current collections lack.
The Archive and Collections has a great Facebook page, and your Wednesday “Hum? Ump Day Artifact” spotlight is a lot fun. Do you have a favorite Weekly “Huh? Ump Day Artifact?”
We love putting this page together. Sharing the artifacts out really allows us to get to know the people and places of Fort Collins in a really interesting way.
I personally really connect with the artwork made my Alice and Helen Dickerson. Just looking at their art makes me feel like we would have gotten along well. They are sisters and one of them makes pine needle baskets and the other one paints them.
Alice and Helen Dickerson were early twentieth century artists who painted pine needle baskets, carved wood, designed jewelry, and crafted items using bits and pieces from nature.
What is one of your favorite places in the museum besides Archive and Collections?
The café! There are always interesting folks and things going on in there. It’s where we end up doing our pop up crafts time to time, and it’s a great place to hang out.
Earlier this year you presented at the Bold Women, Change History symposium at History Colorado museum. Can you talk about that?
It was attended by a really diverse set of presenters, with people ranging from professional writers and historians to graduate students presenting at their first conference, on subjects as diverse as women’stravel clubs in the 1920s to a comprehensive history of access to birth control in America. The Archives and Collections team all went and we presented on themes from our collection on women’s history. It was fascinating – we learned so much and got great feedback on our presentations as well.
My presentation was about one of our larger object collections: the artwork and ephemera of local textile artist, Dorothy Udall. Her story is an inspiring demonstration of how object collections can be used to access histories that are underrepresented in our community’s written historical records.
Dorothy Udall in her printing studio.
I have to ask: do you believe bold women can change history?
Certainly, but I’d like to answer with a yes and no. The reason I say that is some of my favorite research and collections discoveries uncover people who were quiet and lived their lives in the way that were important to them. They didn’t make a huge splash, but they certainly made contributions.
What else has Archive and Collections done in the past year that you are proud of?
We love being involved with schools in our area, and we were excited to host classes from Compass Charter School while working on History Day entries in Collections. We also hosted a visit with Roots and Wings Preschool students with activities about collections and curation. We visited the resulting Shell Museum they created in their classroom. It was so lovely.
We’ve also recently received a $5,000 grant from the International Questers to support the conservation of a Northern Arapahoe-painted bison hide recently donated to the Object Collections. This is really special to all of our communities.
And in our continued work to spotlight community members, we create a video about Betty Herrmann, a major donor and volunteer to the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery Object Collections and elsewhere in the museum since the 1980s.
We also work to participate in the Día de Muertos Celebration. In keeping with the spirit of the Celebration, I created an altar honoring my father.
Please look for the next Día de Muertos Celebrating in the fall!
Finally, how can the community get involved in the collections?
Visit our galleries to view the many collections objects that make up our exhibits. You can always contact me to arrange a visit to Collections or to do research on a particular object or theme. It’s free.
Endangered Species Day takes place on May 20 this year, and on Saturday, May 21 you’ll be able to explore the meaning of the day at Fort Collins Museum of Discovery. Partners from Colorado Parks and Wildlife, City of Fort Collins Naturals Areas , and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Black-footed Ferret Conservation Center will be on hand to share their recovery efforts for one of the most endangered mammals in North America: the black-footed ferret.
At the event, you’ll meet two live black-footed ferrets, attend a ferret feeding, and see two very special “mama ferrets” who are part of the amazing story of the cloned Elizabeth Ann, who is the first clone of a North American endangered species. Children and adults can make black-footed ferret masks and enjoy the offerings from our partners as well.
The ferret feeding takes place at 11 a.m.
This free event with our partners takes place from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. We look forward to seeing you there.
Post written by Kim Fraser, Black Footed Ferret Program Coordinator.
BFFs: Black-footed Ferrets or Best Friends Forever
The Black-footed Ferret (BFF) (Mustela nigripes) is the only ferret native to North America and lives on the short grass prairie of the Great Plains. BFFs are members of the Mustelidae family which is often referred to as the weasel family, and includes mink, badger, marten, otter, weasel, fisher, wolverine, and domestic ferret. They are nocturnal, solitary, require large expanses of landscape, and spends their whole life on prairie dog colonies. In the prairie dog burrow systems they seek shelter from predators and weather, eat, sleep, and raise their young. Over 90% of their diet is prairie dog and they eat over 100 per year. BFFs are called fossorial predators, meaning they hunt underground. Their home range is in 12 Western states including Canada and Mexico. Considered one of the most endangered mammals in North America it has been federally protected for over 40 years. The BFF Recovery Program is one of the most successful recovery programs with over 50 State, Federal, Tribal, NGOs and private landowner partners that all participate in recovery efforts.
Why should we protect black-footed ferrets?
In 1974 when the Endangered Species Act was enacted the Black-footed Ferret was in the top 10 species listed for protection. No one knew then how difficult or easy saving a species from extinction would be. Today, we know recovering an endangered species involves many partners, time, and effort. Since the ESA became law some species have had survival success and some have not. Many people have asked is it worth it? Is preventing the extinction of an iconic species like the black-footed ferret worth the effort? The answer is yes, it is worth it, and here’s why. The BFF is an important member of the prairie ecosystem and their presence indicates a healthy habitat that supports many other species. Without black-footed ferret conservation efforts, prairie dogs and other associated species such as burrowing owls, swift fox, mountain plovers, ferruginous hawks, prairie rattlesnakes, and many others could easily succumb to current threats. So by conserving black-footed ferrets, we have to conserve prairie dog habitat and that saves an entire ecosystem and its inhabitants that call the short grass prairie home!
Why should people care and help save this species from extinction?
Maybe it’s because BFFs capture the imagination that there’s this rarely seen and secretive animal living on the short grass prairie underground. And even though it is one of the most endangered mammals, most Americans will never have the opportunity to see a live BFF. It’s like a fairytale character of the prairie that represents the wild, and people are passionate about the wild and fascinated about the animals that live there. When folks learn about BFFs they are amazed that something so cool lives right in their backyard- in America. We all know about other species that are in trouble across the globe, like elephants, tigers, chimpanzees and rhinos. And it is good to care about what happens to all species on our planet because we are a global living place. Every day we hear about how these other species are doing and how we can help them and that’s important. But here is an animal that makes its home right here, it belongs to us as Americans as one of our native species. We should care and protect BFFs so they will remain part of the wilds of North America. One way to help save BFFs is by learning all you can about them. Because by learning you will come to care about them, and when you care, you will want to help save them. So you see by caring and helping to save them from extinction you are being a BFF or Best Friend Forever not just to black-footed ferrets but to future generations so they too will have BFFs living wild and free on the prairie.