Editors note: Complete list of opening day activities follows this release

Photos available

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Join the Florida Museum of Natural History Saturday for the opening of its new temporary exhibit “CSI: Crime Scene Insects” and delve into the mysterious world of crime-solving entomology.

With many TV shows focusing on crime scene investigation, the exhibit uses hands-on activities, educational panels and mock investigations to show visitors how maggots, flies and beetles help solve crimes every day.

“This whole exhibit is based on a surprising premise – that insects, especially flies and beetles – are some of our strongest allies in solving crimes,” said Darcie MacMahon, Florida Museum assistant director of exhibits. “It lets visitors explore the origins of entomology and crime scene investigation in a way that few other mediums could offer.”

At first glance, it may seem easy to assume insects are insignificant because of their size. But because of their role in decomposition and their rapid life-cycles, they offer great insight into a crime timeline.

Visitors can discover the stages of a fly’s life through “The Fly Wheel,” a sculpture that uses light to show the progression in an interesting way, and examine hundreds of insect specimens. The exhibit also explains the job of a forensic entomologist – from the types of cases they investigate to the tools they use – including how their findings come into play in the courtroom.

Visitors also can explore the five stages of decomposition as they open morgue drawers to view models of corpses in each stage. They can then apply this information to mock investigations and see if they discover the same details as someone investigating an actual crime.

“CSI: Crime Scene Insects” is a traveling exhibit developed and constructed by Exhibit IQ. The national tour is made possible by Bayer Environmental Science. Endorsed by the producers of the hit CBS television series, “CSI” meets National Science Education Standards and is suitable for children 8 years and older. “CSI: Crime Scene Insects” is sponsored by the University of Florida Student Government.

Admission is $6.50 for adults ($6 Fla. Residents), $5.50 for seniors and Florida students, $4 for ages 3-12 and free for Florida Museum members, UF students with a valid Gator1 card, and children 2 and younger.

For more information, visit www.flmnh.ufl.edu/csi/ or call 352-846-2000.

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Source: Darcie MacMahon, 352-273-2053, dmacmahon@flmnh.ufl.edu
Writer: Morgan Lamborn
Media contact: Paul Ramey, 352-273-2054, pramey@flmnh.ufl.edu

CSI Opening Day Activities
10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Saturday May 8, 2010

Painting with Maggots
Hosted by the UF Entomology Department

Dip maggots in paint and let them crawl on paper to create a unique work of art!

Shadow Box with Alternative Light Source
Hosted by the Gainesville Police Department Forensic Team

Wear protective goggles and look at blood, hair, fibers and other trace evidence with an alternative light source!

Pound Human Identification Lab
See how the UF C.A. Pound Human Identification Laboratory determines the age, ancestry and sex of archaeological specimens, with a real human skeleton as an example.

Animal Crime Scene Unit
Explore interactive stations in the nation’s first Animal Crime Scene Unit! Learn about the forensic tools used by the CSI team, including an alternative light source, infrared camera, digital X-ray system and evidence supplies

Insect Display
Check out a display of different types of insects hosted by UF forensic entomology staff and students.

Is the “CSI effect” really changing jury verdicts across America? (1:30 p.m.)
Join assistant professor Lisa Hasel of the University of Florida for a lively discussion on the effects of crime shows like CSI on juries in real court cases.

Insect Eye & Mouth Types
See and taste the world from a bug’s point of view – really! Create a “looking” device to see the way bugs do – some have more than two eyes! Then, test four different bug mouth types to learn how bugs eat their food.

Rock Bugs
After everything you have learned about crime scene insects in the exhibit, make your own rock bug to take home!

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