Museums house all sorts of interesting specimens in their collections.
You might think first of an unusual bird, or a remarkable mammal.
But would you think of a rusty car?
This driver’s-side door
from a 1984 Ford Bronco
was collected by Field Museum scientists and their collaborators
who noticed it parked on the side of the road
during a field expedition in Puerto Rico.
What caught their attention was the car’sabundance of lichens:
plant-like organisms that are comprised of a symbiotic relationship between an algae, and a fungus.
The scientists had spent some time marveling
at the lichen diversity that covered the decommissioned automobile;
and after some serious consideration
for how they’d manage to transport the entire
vehicle back to the Field Museum in Chicago,
they eventually settled on taking the door-
paying $ 20 for the accession,
to the car’s very confused but accommodating owner.
So far, the scientists have identified more
than 50 different species of lichen growing
on it — many of which fluoresce under
UV light, and one of which may
be a brand new species to science.
That just goes to show you
that scientific discoveries can be found in the most unremarkable of places.