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The Maine Discovery Museum team has identified seven animals that are important to MDM and Maine. Learn more about them below!
Coccolithophores are tiny photosynthesizing algae that live in the ocean, with more than 200 different species. Coccolithophores are one of many species of micro-organisms being studied by Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Science researchers.
Barney Balch, a researcher at Bigelow Laboratory, is the co-author of a book about coccolithophores, Ultra-Fine Art of Coccolithophores.
Along with their cousins the hagfish, lampreys are the only jawless vertebrates still in existence. Lampreys have a suction cup-like mouth that they use for nest-building and to grab onto rocks so they can move upstream.
While they have little to no commercial value in Maine, they are essential sources of nutrients to freshwater food webs and benefit other anadromous and resident fishes through their nest-building activities. They are also native species in Maine.
Read more: https://blog.nature.org/science/2017/12/11/recovery-why-sea-lampreys-need-to-be-restored-and-killed/
The axolotl is an aquatic salamander found naturally only in Lake Xochimilco in the Valley of Mexico and in the canals and waterways of Mexico City.
Axolotls have been used for research for more than 200 years because of their remarkable ability to regenerate lost or damaged tissues, including whole organs, limbs, and parts of the central nervous system. MDI Biological Laboratory researchers are learning as much about regeneration as they can from these animals.
Humans and zebrafish share 70 percent of the same genes and 84 percent of human genes known to be associated with human disease have a counterpart in zebrafish.
Zebrafish are used as model organisms in many of Maine's research labs: University of Maine Molecular & Biomedical Sciences; MDI Biological Laboratory; University of New England.
Tardigrades, also known as “water bears” or “moss piglets”, are water-dwelling eight-legged segmented micro-animals that can survive just about anywhere, including the vacuum of space.
Dr. Emma Perry and (then) John Bapst high school student Noelle Killarney discovered a new species of tardigrade in 2020 in the Bangor City Forest.
An endangered Maine native species, many consider the spotted turtle to be Maine's most adorable turtle. It shares its yellow-polka-dotted motif with the spotted salamander, sharing many of the same vernal pool habitats. The spotted turtle is the only turtle in Maine with distinct yellow spots on a smooth, low, black carapace (upper shell).
Science and nature centers need a special permit to house spotted turtles. The only captive spotted turtle in Maine lives at the museum.
Squeaking is only one of the many ways mice communicate. They also use body language: swishing a tail is a sign of aggression, and putting the ears back is a defensive posture.
The mouse genome is similar to the human genome, making them a good model for in genetic research in human diseases. Mice have been used for the study of complex mammalian systems for over a century. The Jackson Laboratory has been vital to the development of the mouse into the leading model for biomedical research.