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  • Archive for the 'Grant Museum of Zoology' Category

    Underwhelming Fossil Fish of the Month: June 2015

    By Mark Carnall, on 30 June 2015

    Fresh Prince of Nairnshire. LDUCZ-V1811 fossil masquerading as Will Smith from Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

    LDUCZ-V1181. Fresh.

    Now, this is the story all about how
    My life got flipped-turned upside down
    And I’d like to take a minute, just sit right there
    I’ll tell you how I became an underwhelming fish fossil.

     

     

     

    This might be how this month’s underwhelming fossil fish of the month would introduce itself, were it not a fossil fish and if fish could rap in the first place and if fish were keen fans of the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and if the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was aired in the Devonian. But unfortunately it is, they can’t, they’re not and it wasn’t. So it’s down to me to introduce yet another monthly underwhelming fossil fish in my mission to increase global fishteracy and to temporarily shine a spotlight on unloved museum specimens.

    As you can tell from the flimsy preamble, there’s not much to say about this month’s specimen so back away from the edge of your seat and lower your expectations. We’re in for a uneventful ride.
    (more…)

    Specimen of the Week 194: The Death’s-Head Hawkmoth

    By Rowan J J Tinker, on 29 June 2015

    The pinned Death's-head hawkmoths. LDUCZ-L1438

    The pinned Death’s-head hawkmoths. LDUCZ-L1438

    I stand before you to beseech absolution. I confess to my unholy bias in favour of the darker and somewhat supernatural beings of the museum, yet I seek no forgiveness. I will endeavour to one day improve this, and talk about some adorable abomination with darling little eyes and a twee silken coat, but to be honestly forthright, I recoil at the thought. I’ve always found delight in those lacking in vertebral column, often simply regarding the spine itself as excess baggage, hence I rejoice to formally announce that I’m keeping with the creepy invertebrate vibe.

    This week’s specimen is most agreeable to the palate of those with a less cute-inclined disposition; with the markings of a demon and the scent of bees, this week’s Specimen of the Week is… (more…)

    Specimen of the Week 193: A very confused anemone

    By Mark Carnall, on 22 June 2015

    Image of LDUCZ-C1445 Amphianthus dohrnii on  Eunicella verrucosa from the Grant Museum of Zoology UCL

    Image of LDUCZ-C1445 Amphianthus dohrnii on Eunicella verrucosa from the Grant Museum of Zoology UCL

    Specimen of the week is the Grant Museum’s weekly blog series focusing on one of the 68,000 specimens in the collection. When it comes to my turn to write one, I normally try to choose a specimen that otherwise might be overlooked within the crowded cases. Whilst looking for a specimen to focus on this week, I found these lovely specimens, labelled as a fossil ostracod (an amazing group of crustaceans) and on display with the peanut worms and brachipods, whilst resembling anemones. What’s the story here? Hopefully this blog post will cure the case of mistaken identity.

    This week’s specimen of the week is… (more…)

    Soon turned out we had a heart of papier-mâché

    By Mark Carnall, on 16 June 2015

    Every year UCL Museum Studies students get to choose an object from each of UCL’s museums and collections to research for a term. This is a guest blog by Jennifer Esposti one of this year’s students looking at a mysterious model. 

    LDUCZ-X118 Image of  crocodile heart model at Grant Museum of Zoology UCL

    LDUCZ-X118 Auzoux model of crocodile heart

    Greetings! My name is Jennifer and I am a postgraduate student in UCL’s Museum Studies program. As part of my MA, I took a course called Collections Curatorship. This course entailed working within a group of students to research a museum object. I was assigned to the natural history group, to investigate an object from the Grant Museum. My group and I were presented with three possible objects and we selected a crocodile heart model known as Object LDUCZ-X118.  Here’s what we found out.
    (more…)

    Specimen of the Week 192: The Harvestman

    By Rowan J J Tinker, on 15 June 2015

    Dried harvestman LDUCZ-J416

    Dried harvestman LDUCZ-J416

    Case 11: the final resting place of those that once scuttled and dashed between the shadows. Many eagerly feature in our lives, brushing softly against the unaware’s skin, only to dart off as they are noticed, leaving a split second image of many a shambling leg to return as a parting gift at night when the lucidity of dreams kick in. Staring out from the dim stillness a dour creature resides, and an eternal watch it holds.

    It was at first the near-symmetry of this specimen that drew me to it while bumbling around the Grant Museum; but after doing a little research, only then did it become apparent that this creature is far deserving of a week-long bask in the limelight. These critters are easily mistaken for spiders, both having eight spindly legs, but in fact they are far cuter, and much to the ire of arachnophobes. Many aspects of their biology and their cultural influence make them the spider’s rather well-appreciated cousin, and rightfully so.

    So thus begins my job to convince you, dear literary companion, of this creature’s cause, lest it be cast off back to the tenebrous corners where the resting beasts of Case 11 do creep and surge. This week’s Specimen of the Week is…

    (more…)

    UCL Museums Student Events Team

    By Rachel H Bray, on 8 June 2015

    Rachel again…

    Back in February this year, UCL Museums ran a very special late night opening at the Grant Museum of Zoology around Valentine’s Day, called Animal Instincts: Sex and the Senses. Much fun and merriment was had by all with special lusty-themed cocktails, an animal photobooth, crafts and some particularly pungent ‘animal’ smelling boxes. Over the years UCL Museums have built up a reputation for putting on events such as these; however, for Animal Instincts, they handed over the reigns to the events programme to some of us UCL students.

    A shot of the busy bar at our event "Animal Instincts: Sex and the Senses".

    Farrah serving up a cocktail storm at the bar during the evening.

    (more…)

    Specimen of the Week 191 : Rhamphorhynchus wing cast

    By Tannis Davidson, on 8 June 2015

    LDUCZ-X842 Rhamphorhynchus wing cast

    LDUCZ-X842 Rhamphorhynchus wing cast

    One of my favourite pastimes is to do a bit of research – on just about anything.  I enjoy investigative work and the process of discovery.  Luckily, the nature of my work at the Grant Museum ensures that there are plenty of opportunities to do museum-detective work.  It could be a case of matching up an archival record with an unaccessioned specimen or figuring out a valid taxonomic name for a mysterious beast in a jar.

    It is both a burden and a blessing to work with historic collections which have varying degrees of documentary information: while it would be preferable to have more/most/all information about an object, gaps in the data allow for additional research and new discoveries.

    Recently I was doing some research on another Grant Museum Rhamphorhynchus specimen and one thing led to another…and another…and another.  It turns out that there is a lot of history behind this week’s SOTW – and although it is ‘only’ a plaster cast – it is part of a famous lineage of one of the most famous fossil finds!

    This week’s Specimen of the Week is… (more…)

    Specimen of the Week 190: The Platypus Tooth

    By Jack Ashby, on 1 June 2015

    A slide showing a fragment of platypus tooth from the Grant Museum Micrarium

    A slide showing a fragment of
    platypus tooth from the
    Grant Museum Micrarium

    I have to admit that when I first encountered this object I didn’t recognise what it was until I read the label, which is scratched into the glass slide that houses it. I don’t feel too bad about that as it is essentially microscopic, and very few people have ever seen one of these specimens. It is among the very smallest objects in the Museum.

    Unsurprisingly then, it is on display in the Micrarium – our place for tiny things. This beautiful back-lit cave showcases over 2000 of the 20,000 microscope slides in our care – it broke the mould for how museums display their slide collections.

    I first wrote about the species featured on this slide in my first ever Specimen of the Week, but that was taxidermy – a real A-Lister compared to the miniscule, obscure fragment I have selected here. This week’s Specimen of the Week is…

    (more…)

    Underwhelming Fossil Fish of the Month: May 2015

    By Mark Carnall, on 29 May 2015

    It’s only taken a total of 30 months of monthly underwhelming fossil fish, but the series has finally received the overdue recognition that it deserves. The series, which stops to take a look at the less sexy, less interesting and generally underwhelming fish fossils that every natural history museum has in its stores, has been recognised as a tour de force in the museum/palaeo/biology blogosphere. There are so many people to thank but I deserve most of the credit to be honest. I am of course talking about the first ever Underwhelming Fossil Fish of the Month fan art*. That’s when you know you’ve really made it. Here it be:

    Fossil fish fan art by Jan Freedman

    (c) Up-and-coming-palaeo-cartoonist and Curator of Natural History, Plymouth City Museum & Art Gallery, Jan Freedman

    This cartoon, showing a bald lady talking to Brian May about fossil fish was first unveiled at last week’s Natural Sciences Collections Association conference, Museums Unleashed, about the power of social media and sums up this blog series in one image. But that’s enough boasting about how underwhelming fossil fish transcend media, we all knew this to be true so without further ado let’s clamp our peepers on this month’s rough in the diamonds. (more…)

    Specimen of the Week 189: Actinia equina

    By Rachel H Bray, on 26 May 2015

    Image of a marine specimen represented in glass

    LDUCZ – C373 – All seems peaceful in this bell jar…

     

     

    We have had both an ethics and an art angle during the last week at the Grant Museum which you might have noticed if you attended some of our events. The Strange Creatures Late featured live, ethical taxidermy with Jazmine Miles-Long and the Great Grant Knit-A-Thon included talks from History of Art PhD student and Strange Creatures c0-curator Sarah Wade about craftivism, poaching and habitat destruction. And so, it seemed particularly appropriate to have an aesthetically pleasing, ethically sensitive representation of a specimen this week!

     

     

     

     

    This week’s specimen of the week is…

    (more…)