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  • Underwhelming Fossil Fish of the Month: April 2016

    By Mark Carnall, on 29 April 2016

    Since the last Underwhelming Fossil Fish, we’ve been betrayed comrades. Last month, one of our own, a hitherto underwhelming fossil fish got interesting, as hacks reported. Of course, nobody remembers this news now but the underwhelming fossil fish of the month community was rocked so hard by this betrayal, et tu Tully Monster?, that there wasn’t an underwhelming fossil fish of the month for March 2016, the first ever break in the series. In a touching act of solidarity, appropriately for the series, nobody even seemed to notice. This month, there haven’t been any more turncoats so we can get back to the business of this blog series, that is to celebrate the unremarkable fossil fish in museum collections precisely for their distinctive uninterestingness.

    This month, widely heralded on the Twitter as #TheReturnOfFossilFish, I’ve got a specimen that’s appropriately uncommemorating in any way, unless slightly resembling a bald person’s head whilst they are frowning, is at all commemorative. Read the rest of this entry »

    Specimen of the Week 237: The Common Starling

    By Rachel H Bray, on 29 April 2016

    1. A Familiar Sight

    (… and long may that remain so!)

    You may recognise this week’s sociable and rowdy Specimen of the Week: the Common Starling (Sturnus vulgaris). Starlings are familiar to many Brits, and SOTW blog readers from Europe, Asia, Africa and even those in northern Australia may also recognise this tenacious bird. Despite declining numbers in recent years they remain one of the UK’s most common garden birds. Starlings are especially profuse in southern England, often being sighted in towns and city centres as well as more rural areas.

    Close up of the head of the starling

    A Common Starling – Sturnus vulgaris LDUCZ-Y1547. … The star of the show or in this case the Specimen of the Week Blog.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    How and why did these animals die?

    By Will J Richard, on 27 April 2016

    Something which I get asked a lot by the Grant Museum’s visitors is “how did these animals die?” It’s an excellent question and one to which I wish there were a more comfortable answer. Or, at least, a more definite one. The truth is that it isn’t one size fits all. Not all of our specimens ended up here in the same way and for many we can only guess. The Grant Museum holds one of the UK’s oldest zoological collections and attitudes and practices have certainly changed over the last 200 years, though the ethical debates continue.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Specimen of the Week 236: The Seahorse Skeleton

    By Jack Ashby, on 22 April 2016

    1. Familiar when fleshless

    Can you name some animals that look more or less the same with or without their skin and flesh on? Those which are instantly recognisable from their skeletons alone?
    Crocodiles, penguins and seahorses spring to my mind. Can you think of any more?
    What these unrelated animals have in common – and what sets them apart – is that their skin sits directly on bone, at least on the important bodyparts. But this comes about in different ways.

    Seahorse skeleton and dried seahorse. LDUCZ-V433 and LDUCZ-V434

    Seahorse skeleton and dried seahorse.
    LDUCZ-V433 and LDUCZ-V434

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Specimen of the Week 235: Alizarin Stained Chicken Chick

    By Paolo W Viscardi, on 15 April 2016

    My turn to pick the Specimen of the Week came a bit late for Easter, so instead of an egg I thought I’d go for what comes afterwards…

    Chicken chick LDUCZ-NON3148

    Chicken chick LDUCZ-NON3148

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Specimen of the Week 234: Jar of Earthworms

    By Dean W Veall, on 11 April 2016

    Hello to you all out there on the interwebs. Dean Veall here. My specimen of the week is another in the ‘Jar Of’ series, admittedly a series of one so far, but a series. Right. This is a bit of delayed SoTW due to the enforced shut down of Grant Museum Towers by our beloved overlords, so apologies if you missed your regular Friday fix. This week’s Specimen of the Week is…..

    Jar of earthworms LDUCZ-G281

    Jar of earthworms LDUCZ-G281

    Read the rest of this entry »

    The Rock Room is Getting a New Home

    By Nicholas J Booth, on 7 April 2016

    The Rock Room.

    The Rock Room.

    A Geology Museum has existed at UCL since 1855 (UCL was founded in 1826), 14 years after  the first professor of Geology, Thomas Webster, started at UCL. However geology has been collected for longer – the first recorded donation of geology specimens to UCL came in 1828 from a Mr. Davies Gilbert. Today the collection consists of over 100,000 specimens, from microfossils to large trace fossils, and ranging in age from c4.5 billion year old meteorites to relatively recent fossils (including my favourite fossil crab).

    The Rock Room has been in its present location since 1908, Read the rest of this entry »

    Specimen of the Week 233: The mouse-deer skeleton

    By Will J Richard, on 1 April 2016

    Hello Grant-fans! Will Richard again, taking my turn to bring you specimen of the week. Here goes…

    LDUCZ-Z523 Mouse-deer skeleton

    LDUCZ-Z523 mouse-deer skeleton

    Read the rest of this entry »

    A Honey Pot for Springtime!

    By Susi Pancaldo, on 31 March 2016

    As a Conservator, I often think of how privileged I am to be able to handle and examine museum objects, up close and personal. Not all objects move me, but at the moment I am very pleased to be working on this one:

    UC65361, Ceramic bowl from the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, UCL. Height 7cm, diameter 10.5cm.

    UC65361, Ceramic bowl from the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, UCL. Height 7cm, diameter 10.5cm.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Specimen of the Week 232: Holzmaden Fossil Fish

    By Tannis Davidson, on 25 March 2016

    LDUCZ-V610a Dapedium pholidotum

    LDUCZ-V610a Dapedium pholidotum

    There are quite a few posts on this blog regarding not-so-lovely fossil fish, which might possibly lead one to believe that the Grant Museum’s collection does not include fossil fish specimens of outstanding beauty.  This is, however, definitely not the case.  The Museum has many finely detailed, historically interesting, painstakingly prepared fossil fish – specimens that would, in fact, be described as anything but underwhelming.

    This week’s Specimen of the Week is …

     

    Read the rest of this entry »