BWOM: Biogeochemical cycle

The Big Word of the Month is biogeochemical. You can probably figure out the meaning if you break down the root words. Scientists use the term to refer to the processes by which chemicals like nutrients move through biological (bio) and non-biological (geology and chemical) parts of the Earth’s ecosystem. One of the most important biogeochemical cycles is the Nitrogen cycle. Nitrogen is critical for animal and plant life because it is a constituent of proteins and nucleic acids (likeRead more

Big Word of the Month: Biodiversity

This month’s big word is not that obscure or difficult to pronounce but the concept behind it can be a bit large to grasp. Biodiversity is a word and idea that tries to capture the complex relationships among different forms of life. It came into widespread use beginning in the 1980’s in scientific and political circles as an organizing theme in discussions of conservation. The rise of the word coincided with a change of focus for environmental groups from theRead more

Big Word: ‘ologies

Sometimes it seems that scientists have a language all to their own! Learning how to decode big words in Biology can help make learning easier and more fun. Once you start investigating some of the big words you encounter, some patterns may become clear. For instance, a word that means “the study of” something usually ends in “ology”. The beginning of the word is often derived from Greek or Latin. Biology comes from bio (life) + ology (knowledge) = theRead more

Big Word: King Phillip loves spaghetti!

Biologists group organisms based on shared characteristics and historical relationships. This practice, known as taxonomy, uses a series of increasingly specific groups to organize the elaborate tree of life. Unfortunately, the terms used in biological taxonomy can be a challenge to the novice because they are often based on Latin and Greek. In this month’s Big Word feature we will discuss some common terminology related to the classification of animals that live here at the museum. The most common taxonomicRead more