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  • Specimen of the Week: Week 132

    By Emma-Louise Nicholls, on 21 April 2014

    Scary MonkeyFor those of you who didn’t have a chance to read last week’s Specimen of the Week, or for those of you who did but still can’t quite believe it- this is my penultimate blog in this series. DON’T PANIC- Specimen of the Week shall be continuing, but as of the 5th May it will be written by the other lovely members of Team Grant. As you can all appreciate, Specimen of the Week is probably the most important part of my, or any of our, jobs here at the Grant Museum, and so I do not move on from it lightly. I am in fact moving up the ladder and on to another museum. So enjoy and savour the penultimate Emma-authored Specimen of the Week.

    Uh hum (wipes tear) this week’s Specimen of the Week is… (more…)

    Human Evolution – The Story Of Us

    By Nicholas J Booth, on 27 February 2014

    Ever wanted to meet your ancestor?

    Ever wanted to meet your ancestor?

    On Friday 7th March the Rock Room (1st Floor Corridor, South Wing, UCL) will host a special pop-up exhibition featuring rarely seen objects from UCL’s Biological Anthropology Collection, and in particular their collection of early hominin fossil casts.

    UCL’s Biological Anthropology Collection is held by (unsurprisingly) the Biological Anthropology Section of the Anthropology Department. Biological anthropology focuses on the study of primate ecology and evolution, including the study of human evolution.

    In order to study and teach these subjects the department has built up a wonderful collection of over 2,000 bones, casts of bones and fossils, ancient tools and other types of objects (which I like to think of as ‘misc’). These are stored in the department and heavily used in teaching, helping students to bring the subject (back) to life.

    (more…)

    Specimen of the Week: Week 119

    By Emma-Louise Nicholls, on 20 January 2014

    This specimen needs no introduction but as I need a short paragraph to entice you in, I shall tease you with some enigmatic facts. This species has an intense and masochistic defense mechanism that belongs in a Hammer Horror film from the 1950’s. Its biology seems as otherworldly as the green blood of a Vulcan. Its name may surprise you, but do not be misled, this creature is a Pandora’s box of delicious and disturbing facts. This week’s Specimen of the Week is… (more…)

    ‘African Hair Combs’ – a Conservator’s comment

    By Edmund Connolly, on 28 October 2013

    Guest Blogger: Pia Edqvist

    Has anyone seen the exhibition ’Origins of the Afro Comb, 6,000 years of Culture, Politics and Identity’ currently on display at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge? If so, what did you think?

    If not, you must go and see it; the display will be closing on the 3rd November and you do not want to miss this exhibition.

     

    Origins of the Afro Comb

    Origins of the Afro Comb

    On display is the iconic Black fist comb which was the symbol of the Black Civil Rights and Power Movement during the 1970’s in the USA. Earlier, the Afro comb was not very visible and for this reason it has been assumed that the afro comb was developed during this time. But this exhibition shows that the afro comb dates back to Ancient Egypt. The oldest comb is an Ancient Egyptian comb 5,500 years old which is displayed side by side with the black fist comb. The parallels between these combs are what inspired this exhibition. The connections made between the past and the present make this exhibition extra fascinating. This is also seen in the presentations of oral histories and testimonies within the exhibition which document attitudes towards hair and grooming in the present day. These contributions will also create an archive for the future.

    (more…)

    Specimen of the Week: Week 106

    By Emma-Louise Nicholls, on 21 October 2013

    We’ve been having some conservation work done at the Museum recently, and one of our largest mounted skeletons is currently legless. Physically, not metaphorically. I don’t see that as a reason to make her hide away in shame though. Nor wait for her newly legs ‘renovated’ legs to come back, in order to celebrate how beautiful she is. So, this week’s Specimen of the Week is… (more…)

    Specimen of the Week: Week 101

    By Emma-Louise Nicholls, on 16 September 2013

    Well, after the excitement of the last ten weeks I bet you thought I was out of ideas to entertain you with eh? Nope, that is the benefit of working in one of the most incredible collections known to man (this man at least. Or woman, more accurately), there is always something exciting to talk about. This week I have an animal for you that, in its non-skeletal form, resembles an overgrown sparsely furred dog with a wallaby’s tail and a fennec fox’s ears. Got a clear picture? This week’s Specimen of the Week is… (more…)

    Happy 130th Quagga Day – Maybe more extinct than we thought

    By Jack Ashby, on 12 August 2013

    130 years ago today, 12th August 1883, the last ever quagga died.

    As custodians of one of the only quagga skeletons in existence, we consider it our responsibility to commemorate the tragic passing of this, the least stripy of the zebras.

    Given that we have marked quagga day annually, what can I tell you that regulars wont already know? Potentially, quite a lot – things that I’ve only found out today as I write. Before I get to that, for those who don’t come pre-quagga’ed:

  • Quaggas were a South African Zebra with a stripy front end and a brown back end.
  • Quagga skeletons are “the rarest skeletons in the world [1].
  • They were driven to extinction due to farmers killing them to stop them grazing the land they wanted for their livestock; and for their unusual pelts.
  • The last individual died in a zoo in Amsterdam, probably years after all of her wild relatives

  • This is our quagga:

    Image of the Grant Museum Quagga skeleton

    The Grant Museum quagga

    (more…)

    Specimen of the Week: Week Eighty-Nine

    By Emma-Louise Nicholls, on 24 June 2013

    I decided to stick with the theme of creatures with a slow-paced lifestyle this week. If you don’t know what I’m referring to, you clearly- poor thing- missed out on last week’s Specimen of the Week. The species that features in this week’s edition is dear to my heart, having had a special bond with two specific individuals. Don’t worry, it doesn’t get soppy. This week’s Specimen of the Week is… (more…)

    The mysteries of the Egyptian hairstyles

    By Edmund Connolly, on 3 June 2013

    Collection Correspondent: Monika Zgoda

    Please note this post contains images of human remains.

    The allure of the Ancient Egypt, scented with the air of mystery has been enchanting generations, and while more and more of its secrets are now being discovered, it seems some of its riddles are still waiting to be solved. One of such is right here at Petrie, and although sadly it is not the Sphinx (we wish!), its beauty and whimsical charm are of equal quality.
    While the use of make up and cosmetics in the Ancient Egypt has been widely covered, and we are now familiar with the various aspects of it – from the religious and spiritual connotations to its more  practical uses – there is still some mystery regarding the cosmetic equipment used.

    UC71153, Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology

    UC71153, Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology

    (more…)

    Specimen of the Week: Week Seventy-Nine

    By Emma-Louise Nicholls, on 15 April 2013

    I feel that we know each other well enough now for me to get personal. I am going to share a story about my sister. Today, she is flying back from the Sahara desert where she has just completed the Marathon des Sables; widely acclaimed to be the ‘Toughest Footrace on Earth’. It consists of no less than six marathons in six consecutive days, up mountains, over sand dunes, and across the desert, all whilst carrying a 10 kg pack. In tribute to what must be the singly most impressive thing anyone I know has ever achieved, I’m going to dedicate this week’s specimen to her and tell you about another type of bird that has the ability to run huge distances in the African desert. This species can reach up to 70 kilometres per hour and has such incredible stamina that it can maintain a speed of 50 kilometres per hour for over 30 minutes at a time. This week’s Specimen of the Week is… (more…)