Article - The Steinhardt Museum of Natural History
The Steinhardt Museum of Natural History
The Steinhardt Museum of Natural History, Israel National Center for Biodiversity Studies at Tel Aviv University displays the national natural treasures of Israel. The items featured in the magnificent exhibits were selected from a scientific collection of some 5.5 million objects. These items tell the story of the natural world around us in an experiential, multisensory and fun manner, whilst creating a unique closeness and interaction with nature in a way that cannot be experienced anywhere else.
The museum’s collections, which are recognized as national collections, were gathered in this region during the last 100 years. They document the world of flora and fauna as well as human development over thousands of years. The collections are constantly growing and being updated and serve as a research basis for many scientists in Israel and throughout the world. The museum, as the national research body that documents nature in Israel, initiates and encourages scientific and practical policy-oriented research. The results of these studies are reported to policy makers in the fields of environmental protection, the preservation of nature, agriculture and more.
The museum, which operates as part of Tel Aviv University, aims to inspire deeper understanding of the natural world, its past and present, for the benefit of future generations.
Arthropods collections at “The Treasures of Biodiversity” Exhibit
The largest and most diverse system in nature is that of the arthropods, which includes more than 1 million species and constitutes some 80% of all the living creatures known to science! It is extremely important for anyone dealing in research, agriculture, environmental protection, health, etc. to be familiar with these creatures. Arthropods vary in size from tiny creatures measuring less than 0.1 millimeters to animals with a leg span of nearly four meters. Their bodies have a hard covering, an exoskeleton that serves as a kind of armor and splits the body and legs into sections. Arthropods are present in all habitats – on land, in the air and in the sea. They are vital to the function of ecological systems.
Caracal and Francolin (Caracal & Francolinus)
“The Form and Function” Exhibit
The spectacular diversity of body forms among fauna developed over millions of years in a process dictated by heredity and also greatly affected by animals’ adaptation to their surroundings and to the needs of their existence, such as mobility, defense, finding food and eating. An animal’s structure, the result of evolutionary processes, is very significant to the way in which it functions within the ecological system.
For example, the Caracal is a predatory cat and the Francolin is a terrestrial bird. Both are vertebrates and stem from a common ancient four-legged ancestor that utilized its two pairs of legs for movement. Today, the Caracal has four long muscular legs that allow it to lunge quickly at its prey. It has short jaws and sharp teeth. The Francolin, on the other hand, has a pair of legs for running and a pair of wings for flight, and its jaws developed into an elongated toothless beak. Its lighter weight enables flight.
The Web of Life
“The Web of Life” Exhibit (Acacia tree display)
The Acacia tree and the web of life that exists around it are found in the desert.
In addition to serving as a source of food for animals, plants can provide them with protection and serve as their home. There are many diverse ties between animals and plants in their habitats – ranging from the mutual benefits of reciprocity all the way to utilization and parasitism, when one party benefits at the expense of the other. Life in the natural world is based on a branched web of connections and influences among various creatures. Basic needs, such as food, reproduction, protection and dispersion are vital for the existence of life and are made possible thanks to the diverse ties between creatures. To ensure the continued existence of humankind we require reciprocal ties with healthy, diverse and functioning natural systems.
The First Day Cover features a photo of the museum, which was designed by Kimmel Eshkolot Architects.
Featured on the stamp and the tabs are: Francolin, Caracal, Arabian babbler, Green bee-eater, Palestine sunbird and White-crowned wheat eater, Gray wolf, African horned viper, Arabian babbler, Egyptian spiny-tailed lizard, Persian horned viper, Green bee-eater, Dorcas gazelle, Arabiam cat snake, Acacia strap flower, Palestine sunbird, White-crowned wheat eater