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Biodiversity: American Museum of Natural History Report (Assessment)

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Updated: May 25th, 2021

Introduction

The American Museum of Natural History is one of the largest museums in the globe, which comprises 28 buildings and consists of 45 exhibition halls devoted to a wide variety of scientific and historical subjects. On November 11, 2018, I had a chance to visit the museum in person and see some of the exhibited items that I find the most peculiar. While I was strictly limited in time, my visit was reduced to seeing the Hall of Biodiversity, Irma and Paul Milstein Family Hall of Ocean Life, and the exhibition of reptiles and amphibians. Although it was only a minor part of the museum artifacts, my knowledge of life forms inhabiting the planet was expanded making me realize the importance of biodiversity and think of enhancing the exhibitions.

The Hall of Biodiversity

When I first entered the Hall of Biodiversity, I was torn by the desire to visit all available sections. While I was short of time, I paid maximum attention to viewing the Dzanga-Sangha Rainforest exhibition since I always admired the diversity of African plants and animals. From the notes and examples found in the hall, I have discovered that the African ecosystem is currently suffering heavy damages, losing a threatening number of species every year. The given fact made me think of the importance of biodiversity for the planet’s future and humanity in particular.

The diversity of species is a clue to the normal operation of the major life processes. Practically all plants and bacteria on Earth are engaged in biological and geochemical reactions (“Deep-sea communities,” n.d.). The given reactions involve either the use of carbon dioxide or hydrogen (Devlin, 2018). With regards to this fact, biodiversity’s role is to boost the ecosystem’s productivity through the higher concentration of crops and massive production of oxygen.

Dzanga-Sangha Rainforest is home for thousands of gorillas and elephants; insufficient amount of plants can reduce the count of these species (the existence of the latter is linked to consuming a large variety of plants). As to the relation of biodiversity to humankind, the former is the foundation for human health; it supports food security and provides important ingredients to produce medications. Diets based on food diversity can help one to fight the diseases caused by the insufficient amount of vitamins and minerals.

Summarizing the facts, the absence of biodiversity can seriously threaten one’s health due to the lack of components required for the normal functioning of an organism. In addition, this issue can affect one’s adaptation to environmental or climate changes since no proper support for a cardio-vascular/immune system’s work is provided. The example of Dzanga-Sangha Rainforest shows that the destruction of habitats in the Congo Basin leads to massive losses in life forms.

Other Parts of the Museum

While staying at the museum, I took a chance to visit the Milstein Family Hall of Ocean Life and the Hall of Reptiles and Amphibians. Although the species represented in both exhibitions inhabit different ecosystems, aquatic habitat is what forces one to draw an analogy between the two. For me, it was a convenient opportunity to compare the representatives of the mentioned ecosystems and thus, discover their differences and similarities.

Irma and Paul Milstein Family Hall of Ocean Life contains a large number of samples (blue whale model, walrus, dolphins, and more) to assist one with sinking into the undersea world. It is an unmatched source of information introducing one to the fish and animals inhabiting the global ocean and zones of the deep in particular (“Deep-sea communities,” n.d.). Meanwhile, the exhibition devoted to reptiles and amphibians pursues the goal to educate people about the anatomy, defense, feeding, and reproduction of ectothermic organisms. By analogy with bacteria, some of the amphibians demonstrate excellent survivability in extreme conditions (Devlin, 2018). The hall provides exhaustive information about the life and habitats of Cuban frog, American alligator, Komodo dragon, and other species.

When comparing the two exhibitions, I could not miss the fact that some animals have similarities in their behavior. Thus, the Galapagos giant tortoise and the walrus are accustomed to staying both underwater and on the surface. With regards to the museum notes, the two species are rather plentiful and reach large dimensions. Another analogy that I have drawn is that both creatures show excellent adaptability to environmental conditions, which allows them to survive even mass extinction.

However, along with the similarities, there are multiple differences between the species of the two ecosystems. One of the distinctions is that they inhabit various climatic zones. Yet, the major difference is that walruses are marine mammals while Galapagos tortoises are reptiles. The first prefer piling on top of each other, while the latter do not show such a behavior.

It is evident that both the Milstein Family Hall of Ocean Life and the Hall of Reptiles and Amphibians contain a wide selection of samples and educative material on the species’ behavior. Animals from the two ecosystems have similarities and differences in the way they interact with the environment and adapt to climatic changes. By learning these behavioral peculiarities, one can expand his/her knowledge about the environmental interactions in the animal world.

The Missing Section

After the thorough study of the halls and visitors’ preferences, I come up with the conclusion that the museum needs an exhibition devoted to bacteria and animals capable of surviving the most severe conditions. There has to be a section introducing the life forms that could outlive both humans and other animals in case of a global cataclysm, which would prove that the life on Earth cannot be stopped. The present paper will touch upon the species to represent on the exhibition to come.

Among all species on the planet the deep-sea microbes are regarded to be the most enduring to extreme conditions. Scientists have discovered that some amoebas inhabiting Mariana Trench (10.9 km deep) withstand high pressure and could even survive in the open space (Devlin, 2018). It is known that these microbes thrive in the environment, which is close to that on Saturn’s moon, Enceladus (Devlin, 2018). However, they are not the only representatives to include to the exhibition since other bathypelagic creatures, such as gulper eel or brittle star, can continue existence regardless of the surface conditions too (“Deep-sea communities,” n.d.).

Considering this fact, building a hall devoted to the animals of great vitality would be a wise step in matters of people’s education about biodiversity and the importance of every species including the smallest ones.

In closing, a wing introducing the most enduring life forms represents a huge value for educating people about the diversity of species and the roles they play in the planet’s life cycle. By providing the examples of the most conditioned organisms on Earth, the museum could drag public’s attention to both the problem of climate shifts and animal extinction. For this goal to be achieved, one needs to carefully select the exhibited samples.

Conclusion

Biodiversity is one of the factors that influence the planet’s life cycle. My visit to the AMNH has helped me to fully comprehend the importance of every life form for the wellbeing of the humankind. I have discovered both similarities and differences in the behavior of species belonging to various ecosystems. Although I have seen only three exhibits, it still helped me to figure out what features could be enhanced or introduced.

References

. (n.d.). Web.

Devlin, H. (2018). . Web.

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