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The Superpower of the Secret Names (Photo Tour)


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Transcript-The Superpower of the Secret Names
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How do species get their names? To find out, Lindsay and Marshall take a field trip behind the scenes at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. That’s where we meet Chris Mah, a sea star scientist who has discovered and named over 50 new species! (You might remember him from “The Surprising Story of Sea Stars’ Sticky Feet.”) Chris shows us next season’s hottest new sea stars, shows off his amazing toy collection, and shares the secrets behind his super naming super powers.

We took a lot of photos during our visit! Here's Lindsay and Marshall with Chris Mah.

Photo of Lindsay, Marshall, and Chris (from left to right)

Lindsay interviews Chris in his office.

Lindsay interviewing Chris in his lab. Various specimens are on his desk.

The "data" scattered across Chris' office.

Sea stars in containers on Chris' desk. Various books are in the background.

Sea stars waiting to be discovered!

Aerial perspective of sea stars in containers on Chris' desk. Various books are in the background.

Chris' sea star toy collection comes from his travels around the world.

A pile of sea star merchandise on Chris' cabinets. Stuffed animals, toys, and action figures are shown.

Chris shows off a slime star, which uses mucus as a defense. It looks very gooey when preserved in a jar.

Chris holding a jar with a slimy sea star inside. It is mainly red.

Here's Pisaster Giganteus! Most member of the species are about half the size of this specimen, making "giganteus" a misnomer.

Chris holding Pisaster Giganteus, a giant sea star about the size of his arm.

These long halls contain 1 million marine specimens.

A long, hall with many cabinets.

The type collection represents the standard specimen for each species.

A look at a cabient door. It says "Row 08, Case 25" and the type of star inside.

The "confetti" of sea stars.

A pile of white sea stars.

Chris is recorded telling us about the type collection (these are dried-out slime stars).

Chris with a dried sea star in a box.

Sea stars waiting to be put away after study.

Various sea stars in containers.

The Albatross display shows the ship's route.

Chris pointing to the Albatross display. Pictures are on a board.

The scientists of the Albatross!

The Albatross scientists affixed to the display.

Albatross history photo

Closeup on our favorite Albatross scientist. They had to make their own fun on the ship!

An Albatross scientist wearing a suit on the left and then dressed up as a princess in the right photo.
A printout of an article titled "Giant Starfish Tried To Eat Me"

This was probably unpleasant for the sea star.

A sea star on top of a scientist's head.

One of Chris' favorite, non-sea star pieces to show off in the collection. This is President Taft's punch bowl, made out of a giant clam.

President Taft's punch bowl, made out of a giant clam.

That's it! We highly encourage you to visit the museum if you're in DC - the giant squid is worth it! Also, the museum is free to enter.

Hear more from our interview with Chris Mah on our Patreon podcast feed.

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