Research is both
expected and rewarded. Like a college faculty, the museum staff moves through
ranks: assistants, associate curator, full curator; and like a college faculty,
research and the publication of scientific papers aid promotion. Research takes
the staff far afield. Rozen himself is a good example. A dapper young
administrator, his workday is filled with countless details of supervising the
faculty of the museum. He is also a respected entomologist, and keeps several
large tarantulas in glass cases in his office. "Those are mostly to wow
visitors," he says. "So are the scorpions over there."
interest centers on bees. He will soon leave for South Africa to do work on
certain species of African bees. And, lest anyone think that the museum is
interested only in fossils and the past tense of active nature, Rozen's
research is stingingly immediate.
"A few years
ago an African honeybee was introduced into South America," he says.
"Bees are, of course, good for honey, but their main value to man is
pollination; bees are involved in the production of almost $5 billion worth of
crops each year in the U.S. alone.
queens of the African honeybees escaped in Brazil, and the hybrid bee that
resulted from mating with the normal honeybee of South America is a problem. It
is so aggressive that beekeepers have trouble handling it. Because it is an
effective pollinator, we want to keep it. But it is dangerous. Most bees will
chase you a few hundred feet from their hives, but this one often chases men
and animals for half a mile. There have been several deaths in Brazil and a
heavy toll among livestock. The bees are moving north at the rate of 200 miles
a year. In eight or nine years they are expected to reach the U.S. Something
must be done about them now."
interrupts Rozen. It is
The New York Times
calling to confirm a report about
the Chinese "red-eyed" bee, which supposedly eats parasites from rice
plants. "It's not a bee at all," says Rozen, relieved that it is not
his problem. He has enough of his own.
HOW ABOUT A
The light goes on
in the old coal bin of the museum. On an acre of metal shelving that extends
out of sight are seemingly endless jars offish—all shapes, sizes and colors,
some of which have been floating here for 100 years. "We keep the room dark
because light bleaches specimens," says Dr. C. Lavett Smith, curator of
ichthyology. Smith is more at home in underwater habitats in the Bahamas, where
he studies the social intercourse among coral-reef fishes, and more comfortable
in an Aqualung than in a swivel chair.
keep our type specimens," Smith explains. "When a scientist publishes a
paper describing a new species, he can't publish the fish he works with, so it
goes on file here, and other scientists can come and study the actual specimen.
They are so valuable to science we keep them locked up, safe from fire, atomic
attack and other disasters." One cannot imagine what these might be. On the
way out Smith is unable to locate his key to relock the door to the bin.
"Now I've got to go through my pockets scientifically," he mutters.
EATEN OUT OF HOUSE
collections contain hundreds of thousands of skeletons. It would be tedious and
demanding work to prepare them by hand, since the average-sized mammal is a