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The Plants that Ruled When Dinosaurs Did

Botany

When most people think of plants, they typically picture flowers: cherry trees in bloom, colourful tulips and exotic-looking orchids. This is because 90% of all living plant species are flowering plants (i.e., angiosperms). But when dinosaurs first evolved 225 million years ago (mya), flowers were nowhere to be found. First Plants The first land plants did not produce seeds; instead, they reproduced using spores. Like amphibians, they needed water for...
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One of our most popular exhibits at the Museum is the “Winnipeg 1920 Cityscape”. Built in 1974, it used to be called the “Urban Gallery.” It’s the immersive experience of this gallery that makes it so popular. People love to walk through the buildings, turn corners, step through doors, discovering bits of history as they explore. But in my time at the museum I noticed a few issues with this...
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A fruit in vegetable’s clothing

Botany

Like many of you, I am eagerly awaiting spring so that I can start planting my vegetable garden. There’s nothing better than eating bruschetta with freshly harvested vine-ripened tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum) and steamed green beans (Phaseolus sp.) with fried cream (see recipes at the end). My mouth drools just thinking about it! But the funny thing about tomatoes and green beans is that they are not actually vegetables: they are...
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Bison rubbing stones are icons of the prairies. These large stones were originally transported south by Ice Age glaciers, then left behind on the prairies when the glaciers melted and receded roughly 12,000 years ago. They are therefore considered to be a form of fieldstone, and such large blocks of fieldstone are commonly called glacial erratics. In the millennia since the glaciers left this region, rubbing stones have undergone a...
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A Manitoba winter, especially this one, without the friendly, buzzy, “chick-a-dee-dee” calls of our neighbourhood black-capped chickadees (Poecile atricapillus) would be that much harder to endure. The prolonged cold spells, incredible wind chills, and many blizzards made these birds and their cheery presence even more welcome at our backyard feeders. But while we were entertained watching from behind the window of a warm house, these tiny, 14-gram balls of fluff...
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Post by Nancy Anderson, Collections Management Specialist (Human History)  Over the past two years, the COVID-19 pandemic has played a central, and disruptive role in all our lives. In the coming decades will COVID become a significant cultural memory, or will we begin to suffer from historic amnesia? Terabytes of information may be deposited in archives around the world. For museums, even ordinary artifacts will become powerful tools to engage...
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De-Stressing With Plants

Blogs

By Dr. Diana Bizecki Robson, Curator of Botany   During the pandemic, many people have experienced increased stress levels due to illness, work difficulties, and isolation. But many of us have discovered there is solace to be had in the natural world. In 1984, biologist E.O. Wilson noted that “biophilia”, or a “love of nature”, is a normal part of human psychology. We don’t just love nature; we need it...
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Post by Janis Klapecki, Collections Management Specialist (Natural History) As part of the Manitoba Museum’s entomology collection, we house over 60,000 pinned insects, true bugs, and arachnids. In addition, there are a further ~3000 invertebrates preserved in alcohol, also referred to as “wet” specimens. While the majority of the collection are pinned insects in their adult form, there are also examples of the many and varied life stages that occur...
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The Weird World of Plant Sex

Botany

On the surface, plant sex seems pretty simple. Birds and bees transfer pollen from one flower to another and voila: seeds are produced. But, like most things in life, plant reproduction is much more complicated than initially meets the eye. FINDING A MATE For starters, plants are not like mammals when it comes to gender. Only about 5-6% of all flowering plant species are dioecious, that is, having separate “males”...
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Post by Carolyn Sirett, Conservator and Lee-Ann Blase, Conservation Volunteer  We have all seen those lifeless mannequins looking sad and lonely in a store’s window front, longing for the next wardrobe change of a new season.  Here at the museum we like to give our mannequins a bit more attention to detail compared to their retail cousins, what some might call, a full spa treatment! Humans are uniquely different from...
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