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Modern sunbirds also have long tail feathers. (Jason Weckstein / The Field Museum)

Scientists have uncovered the fossil of a bird that lived 120 million years ago, and it definitely had flair, including unusually long tail feathers. These flashy feathers probably didn’t help the bird achieve aerodynamic flight, but they might have helped him find a mate, according to new research.

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Spotted skunk specimens in the Field Museum's collection. DNA analysis revealed new species. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

People who don’t study mammals for a living may be surprised to learn there’s more than one kind of skunk — and scientists affiliated with the Field Museum have uncovered members that had been hiding in plain sight.

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Specimens of the extinct Xerces blue butterfly, in the Field Museum's collection. (Courtesy of Field Museum)

Despite its diminutive size, the butterfly famed for its iridescent wings is a giant within the conservation movement, cited as the first case of an insect extinction that can be attributed to urban development.

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Mojina Jinuna Mote, holding a photo of herself taken in 1947. Mote’s story is part of a new exhibit on the Marshall Islands at the Field Museum. (Courtesy of the Field Museum)

A photo snapped by a Field Museum anthropologist in 1947 was labeled “schoolgirl” for 72 years. That student now has a name, and her story is part of a new exhibit about the Marshall Islands. 

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Shedd Aquarium’s Wild Reef shark habitat exhibit. (Brenna Hernandez / Shedd Aquarium)

To coincide with the reopening of Chicago, a number of museums will stay open late on Friday for an after-hours experience.

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The Field Museum has more than 2 million fish in its research collections. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

Millions of specimens collected by the Field, not for exhibits but for scientific study, are unlocking mysteries of evolution and could answer questions about climate change.

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Specimens of the round goby were among the species included in the micro plastics study. (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service / Eric Engbretson)

Working with specimens in the Field Museum’s collections, researchers from Loyola University Chicago found microplastics in fish dating back to the 1950s. “Plastic is everywhere,” the scientists said. 

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A luna moth, featured in "Biomechanics," uses its bushy antennae to smell mates up to seven miles away. (Courtesy of Field Museum)

“Wild Color,” making its debut in October, will immerse visitors in all the colors of nature, while returning fan favorite “Biomechanics: The Machine Inside” will explore the engineering behind the bodies of humans and animals.

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Native plants are highly beneficial for the environment, but they often get mistaken for weeds. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

The ongoing battle to legitimize native gardens in Chicago is about to go another round, with the introduction of an ordinance to establish a native garden registry. But gardeners want to know why they’re bearing the burden of erroneous weed law enforcement.

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Safety precautions are in place as the Field Museum reopens. (Michelle Kuo / Field Museum)

The Field Museum is reopening to members on Thursday and the general public on Saturday, with safety precautions in place. Next week, the museum will offer free admission to Illinois residents on select days. 

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Monarch butterflies migrate en masse, but they aren’t social creatures, scientists say. (Mageephoto / Pixabay)

Traveling more than 2,000 miles every year, the migration journey of monarch butterflies links the United States and Mexico in a way no trade agreement or cultural exchange ever could.

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Specimen labels need to be digitized in order to increase access to the information they contain. (Courtesy of the Field Museum)

The Field Museum is looking for volunteers to help digitize 100-year-old handwritten field notes and specimen labels in order to make the information more accessible to researchers.

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“Sacred Under the Cliff of Yellowstone” (Credit: Ben Pease / The Field Museum)

On March, a day after the mayor canceled St. Patrick’s Day parades, another parade celebrated the opening of twin exhibitions on Native American people. The shows opened ... and then closed one day later.

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Chicagoan Lynika Strozier was honored by her peers during #BlackBotanistsWeek. (Field Museum / Corrie Moreau)

Following social media campaigns like #BlackBirdersWeek and #BlackHikerWeek, a group of Black plant scientists from around the world is creating a community around — and celebrating — Black people who love plants.  

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A monarch butterfly feeds on milkweed, which is the sole food source for monarch caterpillars. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

Scores of Chicagoans have planted milkweed — the monarch’s host plant — in their yards and other green spaces, but how effective are those efforts? The Field Museum is recruiting citizen scientists to find out.

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Dandelions are an important food source for pollinators, especially in the spring. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

The dandelion — a once-prized plant that gardeners used to exhibit at county fairs — now holds the title of Public Lawn Enemy No. 1. But is this reputation deserved?