Wednesday, August 17, 2005

The Arthropod Museum

I recently took a tour of the NMSU Arthropod Museum here on campus. Dr. Dave Richman showed us around his collection that features many arthropods from New Mexico, but includes many from other areas and times as well. We watched warily as he nonchalantly picked up scorpions and spiders to show them to us. Dr. Richman is a pretty cool guy - his knowledge of creepies and crawlies is extensive, but he's also cognizant of the general public's perception of them.

For instance, we asked him if he had a sample of the Death's Head Moth from Silence of the Lambs, and he did. He showed it to us, and started telling us bug-movie trivia, such as the fact that for the Death's Head moth in the movie, they had to paint a different moth because they couldn't find the real thing.

The museum is not just a collection for looking, however. Insects have a huge economic impact on New Mexico's agriculture industry, and the research the Department of Entomology, Plant Pathology and Weed Science does benefits agricultural producers throughout the state and beyond.

Unfortunately, the Arthropod Museum has lost part of its funding. The museum will continue on, providing collection and outreach services, but I'm sure this is a severe blow. Hopefully, they'll find a way to re-establish more funding soon.

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