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Join us Thursday, July 1, at 7 pm PT for a free NightSchool livestream!

Sure, colorful animals are beautiful, but in the natural world, color is way more than just an aesthetic. Learn how color is created and plays a crucial role in the day-to-day life—and survival—of countless species from scientists who study birds, frogs, and butterfly wings.

  • It’s easy to identify butterflies by their wing colors and patterns, but how are these intricate designs formed? Erick Bayala, PhD student at the University of Chicago, studies the role of genes in determining these patterns: when and where they’re expressed and how they get translated into the stunning colors you see in adult butterflies.
  • The Gouldian finch of Northern Australia is an amazingly colourful bird, with wild populations made up of individuals with either a red or black head. Hear from Dr. Simon Griffith of Macquarie University on how these birds differ from each other beyond their color and how that’s provided insight into their persistence over evolutionary time.
  • The strawberry poison dart frog found in Panama’s Bocas del Toro Archipelago displays some of the natural world’s most brilliant and variable skin colors. Dr. Yusan Yang, postdoctoral researcher at Washington University in St. Louis, talks about the various functions of their colors, from warning potential predators of toxins and fighting off rivals to finding a suitable mate.

All NightLife virtual programming is intended for audiences 21+.

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Upcoming ticketed museum events

September 23rd at 6:00 pm

Explore the nocturnal side of the Academy and see what makes the museum at night different.

September 30th at 6:00 pm

Come together and connect with the Bay’s AAPI community in an evening of music, storytelling, and fashion.

October 7th at 6:00 pm

Explore the Academy at night alongside nearly 40,000 live animals. For adults 21+.

October 14th at 6:00 pm

Catch a sneak peek of the new BigPicture exhibit, where life is wild and animals inspire us to be more human.

Upcoming free virtual events

October 7th at 7:00 pm

Fire is essential to forest life—hear from experts tending fires and ensuring a more resilient California.