The Superpower of the Secret Names (Photo Tour)

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.

Lindsay interviews Chris in his office.

The "data" scattered across Chris' office.

Sea stars waiting to be discovered!

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

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

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

These long halls contain 1 million marine specimens.

The type collection represents the standard specimen for each species.

The "confetti" of sea stars.

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

Sea stars waiting to be put away after study.

The Albatross display shows the ship's route.

The scientists of the Albatross!

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

This was probably unpleasant for the sea star.

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.

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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