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400 Million Years on Six Legs: How Insects Conquered EarthMaster ClassIn-Person

David Grimaldi

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m

American Museum of Natural History
200 Central Park West
New York, NY

Since its founding in 1869, The American Museum of Natural History has advanced its global mission to discover, interpret, and disseminate information about human cultures, the natural world, and the universe through a wide-ranging program of scientific research, education, and exhibition.

Join us on a sedimental journey of the fossil and evolutionary history of insects, the most successful life-form in the 3.5 billion years of life on Earth. Beginning with quiet origins more than four hundred million years ago, the six-legged journey took a major step when insects invented flight, then when they developed complete metamorphosis, and finally when certain species evolved complex societies. Despite this unparalleled success, insects are now succumbing to biocides, droughts, habitat loss, and other modern pressures. Together, we will look at insects, many preserved in rocks and amber, and consider their incredible evolutions and threats across history. This master class will include a tour of the American Museum of Natural History’s current exhibit, Extinct and Endangered: Insects in Peril. Participants will also have the rare experience of visiting the museum’s sprawling, behind-the-scenes research collection of twenty million insects and arachnids and learn how entomologists develop, study, preserve, and organize over one hundred thousand species.


CTLE credit will be provided.

David Grimaldi

David Grimaldi received his PhD in entomology from Cornell University, then went directly to the American Museum of Natural History, where he has worked for the past thirty-seven years. He is currently the curator of living and fossil insects at the AMNH, and a professor at their Gilder Graduate School. In addition to research and collection development, he has taught at Columbia University, Cornell, The City University of New York, and in field courses in Peru, Venezuela, Tanzania, Vietnam, and other countries. He developed major museum exhibitions on insects and amber, and worked on the new insect exhibitions at the AMNH in the Gilder Center, including Extinct and Endangered: Insects in Peril. He is the author most recently of the book The Complete Insect, and his research interests include the general evolution of insects and how the fossil record helps illuminate the origins of modern ecosystems like tropical forests.