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Uploaded:2013-09-11
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DO NOT CLIMB!
Wherein questions are answered and arms are waved.


Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/thebrainscoop

The Brain Scoop is written and hosted by:
Emily Graslie

Created By:
Hank Green

Directed, Edited, Animated, and Scored by:
Michael Aranda

Filmed on Location and Supported by:
The Field Museum in Chicago, IL
(http://www.fieldmuseum.org)

Translated subtitles provided by Gerda van Mierlo, Arántzazu R. Alcocer Iturria, Susy Hovalnd, Martina Šafusová, Evan Liao, Anne-Sophie Caron, Markus Speringer, and Seth Bergenholtz. Go get some ice cream. You deserve it!
Welcome to my 350 million year old Carboniferous forest! Thaaaaaat's a giant arthropod! (Arthropod!) It's question time, where you ask questions and I provide some answers... and wave my arms around a lot. Here we go!

Theonewiththepoof asked: What's one area of science that has really interested you since arriving at The Field Museum?

Trilobites! And you ask, what is a trilobite? A trilobite is an early arthropod! (Arthropod!) What's an arthropod? (Arthropod!) An arthropod (Arthropod!)- is a hard bodied invertebrate like our modern day lobsters and insects. Trilobites existed on the planet from about 521 to 250 million years ago, and as of right now, we know of about 20,000 different species. These tiny little, and sometimes really large, invertebrates were roaming all over the planet and they're just so cool.

Maura Griffith, @maurasaurus_rex, asked: What do you think is more important: The research at museums behind the scenes or educating the public about collections?

I mean there are entire museum studies courses that are devoted to picking apart this very question, because you have places that call themselves museums, but they don't have a collection. Some museums do a much better job of educating the public than others and really engaging them in what is going on behind the scenes, but at the same time, if we aren't taking the proper care to take care of our collections, then what do we have to share? So I really feel like there could be a happy balance struck between taking care of the collections items and ensuring that research is still happening behind the scenes, and also helping to better communicate that research to the public, which is where The Brain Scoop comes in.

Northernredwood asked: What item traveled the furthest distance to end up at The Field Museum?

Meteorites from space! But really, we've got everything from the highest peaks to the deepest oceans from Madagascar to Chile, to Antarctica, and everything in between.

Jim Slaughter, @jimmyslaughter, asked: Did you know before your trip to Chicago that The Field Museum wanted to hire you or was that a total surprise when you got there?

I really had no idea. Heather Hsu got in contact with Michael and me to see if we would be interested in visiting Chicago to film their annual Members' Night event, so of course we agreed. Once we got here, The Field Museum allowed us to film behind the scenes to see what was going on with the researchers and the staff here at the museum. They lured me into a conference room with the promise of cookies and we were sitting there, and Bill Stanley and I were talking about how cool it would be if The Field Museum could do something kinda like The Brain Scoop and he said, "That'd be really cool. Why don't you do it?" And I said, "What?" And he said, "We want you to work here." And I don't remember the rest of the conversation because my brain turned to soup.

Bytheletterc asks: Do taxidermists also sculpt the base of the body that will shape the treated skin or do they work with a sculptor to get the pose and anatomy?

The taxidermists are the sculptors! Taxidermy is as much of an art form as it is a science. All taxidermists have to be avid observers of nature because it is their job to recreate the essence of life after death. So, if you're interested in finding a career that will happily marry both science and art, the first obvious choice is to be a scientific illustrator, the second is to probably pursue taxidermy, but that doesn't mean there aren't other career options available.

TBSkyen, or T-B-S-K-Y-E-N-I-don't-know-how-to-pronounce-your-name, asked: What do you see as your mission in life?

To get as many people as possible excited about the incredible unlikelihood of our collective existence.

Aurusallos asked: Have you ever prepared a specimen with someone who couldn't handle the grossness and they had to walk out? And did that disappoint you?

A few years ago, I had a new volunteer in the lab helping me to dissect and clean the skull of a bobcat. It came in with all the fur on the head and everything, and she did really well during the process, but I couldn't ever get her to come back again. I felt really bad about it and I guess it's probably because it looked a lot like a house cat, but I never judge anybody if they can't "handle" what's going on in the lab or if they think it's too gross, because, honestly, at the end of the day, I'm just really proud of them for giving it a try.

Drawingforawesome asks: When dissecting an animal do you often go through the contents of it's stomach? If so, what is the weirdest thing you've ever found?

One time I was watching a colleague dissect a beaver and when it got time to opening up the stomach it just- ...was a bunch of sawdust. And, I mean, I know beavers eat trees, that totally makes sense, but I just was not prepared for how well digested it was, and it- it looked like a dust collecting bag from a table saw. It was intense.

Katherinethegreat asks: Do you consider yourself a scientist now, despite not having a formal (i.e. university) training in science?

By definition, a scientist is somebody who is either studying or an expert in one or more of the physical or natural sciences, a science being a state of knowledge or constant pursuit of learning. By definition, we are all scientists. You, investing in The Brain Scoop and what museums do, are scientists. You're pursuing knowledge in the field. So, given those standards, I would say, yeah, I'm a scientist. As are you.

Zeroarcana asks: Is there a part of the museum you feel is underrated or a section that doesn't receive the attention it deserves?

It's unfortunately not common knowledge that a lot of the dioramas down in birds and mammals are close to 100 years old, and they've been entirely sealed up to prevent any dust from settling or damaging the specimens. Or, that an exhibit like Plants of the World could never be recreated today because each leaf on every plant in that hall was molded and sculpted and painted by hand!

42Dude asked: How much is the entire collection of The Field Museum worth approximately? 

Even though everything from art works to artifacts can end up at auction, literally everything from gems to paintings to fossils and minerals, that doesn't mean that these things inherently have a monetary value. Because how can you really put a value on an entire ecosystem or an entire culture of people? You can't. You won't find anybody in a museum who assigns that kind of value to our collection. I would argue that everything we have here is invaluable. The real question is though, is having access to this invaluable material worth the $15 admission price?

(credits)

It still has brains on it.