Carnegie Museum of Natural History

For more information, contact:
Kathleen Bodenlos
Carnegie Museum of Natural History
412.622.3361 (office)

December 3, 2015


Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s Documentary Scientist Search
Exploring the museum’s role in conservation today

PITTSBURGH, Pa.—Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s documentary film Scientist Search: An Expedition to the Amazon provides insight into the vital role the museum plays in conservation efforts today.

In this documentary, Brooklyn-based artist, Maira Duarte, follows Dr. Jose Padial to the Peruvian Amazon. Dr. Padial, the William and Ingrid Rea Assistant Curator of Amphibians and Reptiles at the museum, has led his team of researchers to Peru on three expeditions since 2013. The Alto Purus National Park is one of the largest parks in the Amazon with ongoing conservation challenges.

“Unfortunately, many species of amphibians and reptiles are vanishing so rapidly due to infectious disease, climate change and habitat destruction there is little time to study them,” said Dr. Padial. “Our research and collections are critical to understanding what we have, what we lost and also for documenting our new discoveries.”

Dr. Padial and his team identified 187 species of amphibians and reptiles, including the discovery of 10 new species. His research has almost doubled the number of species known to the region. Researchers from other museums also utilize biodiversity inventories for conservation programs.

Dr. Corine Vriesendorp, a botanist at the The Field Museum in Chicago, has developed a conservation program based on biodiversity inventories. Dr. Vriesendorp’s team has promoted the creation of 17 protected areas in Peru during the last 15 years.

“Natural History Museums in the 21st century need to play a new, critical role in conservation. We cannot just explore the Earth and its peoples, we need to sustain them, and make sure that the future is filled with cultural and biological diversity,” said Dr. Vriesendorp in a recent interview.

The expeditions are just the beginning; processing, cataloging and describing the finds is time consuming work at the museum. The findings from Dr. Padial’s most recent expedition will take months to process. His work includes the analysis of anatomy, DNA and bioacoustics. His findings will be published in the Annals of the Carnegie Museum.

To increase the accessibility of the data stored in museums, an initiative funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation’s Advancing Digitization of Biodiversity Collections Program provides online access to collections through the website

The Carnegie Museum’s Amphibians and Reptiles collection houses more than 230,000 specimens. It is one of the top 10 largest collections of its kind in the United States.

To learn more about the documentary which is offered as either a full-feature film or a shorter version that includes an interactive show, Expedition Peru, visit: 


Carnegie Museum of Natural History, one of the four Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, is among the top six natural history museums in the country. It maintains, preserves, and interprets an extraordinary collection of 22 million objects and scientific specimens used to broaden understanding of evolution, conservation, and biodiversity. Carnegie Museum of Natural History generates new scientific knowledge, advances science literacy, and inspires visitors of all ages to become passionate about science, nature, and world cultures. More information is available by calling 412.622.3131 or by visiting the website,