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  • Specimen of the Week 200: The dodo

    By Jack Ashby, on 10 August 2015

    Grant Museum dodo bones

    Grant Museum dodo bones LDUCZ-Y105

    200 weeks ago the Specimen of the Week was born, and here we are 198 specimens* later. For this auspicious occasion, I thought I should highlight one of the most important specimens in the Museum, both for historic reasons, and because it one of the things that visitors regularly ask about.

    Indeed, we know it is one of the most popular objects as it scores the highest in our “filth left on the glass by visitors scale”. We agree with our visitors’ assessment, and have included it in our Top Ten Objects trail.

    Possibly ranking as our most blogged about species, it’s about time that this week’s Specimen of the Week is… (more…)

    Specimen of the Week: Week 186

    By Tannis Davidson, on 4 May 2015

    Scary-Monkey-Week-NineSometimes a specimen can tell you a little. Sometimes it can tell you a lot. There has been much written on this blog about the perils and pitfalls of museum documentation. Sometimes there is no information with a specimen – no accession record, no acquisition information, no species name and (occasionally) no specimen. Objects get lost and misplaced. Historical records are incomplete or indecipherable. Specimen labels become separated from their object.

    Alternatively, some specimens may have (dare I say it) too much information which may include multiple numbers, several differing records, erroneous taxonomic information or questionable identifications.

    Caring for a collection entails many things but first and foremost is to identify the collection itself – through all possible means including the consolidation of any (and all) associated information. When luck prevails, one may find a scrap (literally) of information which ties it all together – a word or two which allows a specimen to be given a name, a record, a life!

    Recently while going through the bird drawers, I came across an unaccessioned skull and mandible together with its associated information (unclear object number, outdated taxonomic name) including a  small piece of paper with two words: “El Turco”. This week’s Specimen of the Week is…
    (more…)

    Specimen of the Week 173

    By Will J Richard, on 2 February 2015

    Scary MonkeyHello! It’s Will Richard here again, riding the blog flume that is Specimen of the Week. Last month I gave you an old man with a hole in his head, a family feud and the death of one of our closest cousins. Fun times… So this month I thought I’d have a look at something a little more optimistic. Something full of the promise of spring. A true story of hope, kindness and togetherness… at least that’s how I see it.

    This week’s specimen of the week is…

    (more…)

    Specimen of the Week: Week 167

    By Tannis Davidson, on 22 December 2014

    Many different animals are associated with Christmastime. There are those with a biblical connection to the birth of Jesus –the animals of the nativity (donkey, ox and sheep) and the camels ridden by the three kings/wise men. There is the Yule goat of Scandinavia (whose ancient origin is connected to the Norse god Thor who rode a chariot drawn by two goats).  There are the partridges, turtle doves, French hens, calling birds, geese-a-laying and swans-a-swimming that are mentioned in seasonal song. Of course there are also the reindeer, doves, robins, and wrens associated with yuletide joy, happiness, good fortune, peace and love.

    So without much further ado, let me just add my own animal choice into the mix….this week’s specimen of the week is…

    (more…)

    Specimen of the Week 149

    By Dean W Veall, on 18 August 2014

    Specimen of the Week: Week Two Dean Veall here. Here I am again presenting my choice of the 68,000 specimens here in the collection. My previous choices have included the tiger beetle and the box jellyfish, so what have I gone for this week? Well, here are the teasers, this week I have chosen what I believe to be one of the showiest animals in the UK, was collected close to my Valleys home of Bargoed in Brecon and is a specimen that I came across whilst rummaging through the drawers of the Museum, which means it is not usually on display. This week Specimen of the Week is… (more…)

    Specimen of the Week: Week 145

    By Jack Ashby, on 21 July 2014

    Scary MonkeyLike all professional zoologists, I own several sets of novelty animal-based playing cards. One such set is “Dangerous Australian Animals”. This is a particularly good set as in addition to the usual playing card graphics (hearts, diamonds, etc), not only do you get a lovely picture of a Dangerous Australian Animal on each card, but you get a star rating, out of five, of exactly how Dangerous it is.

    The manufacturers would have had to work pretty hard to narrow it down to just 52 Dangerous Australian Animals, given that most lifeforms in Australia are Dangerous.

    Alongside the snakes, crocodiles, spiders, jellyfish, scorpions and paralysis ticks, there is a single bird Dangerous enough to get its own card. With a Dangerous rating of 0.5 stars out of five, this week’s Specimen of the Week is… (more…)

    Specimen of the Week: Week 124

    By Emma-Louise Nicholls, on 24 February 2014

    Nestled between, and rather physically dwarfed by, a cuckoo and a sparrowhawk, this specimen sits is our ‘Taking Flight’ case. That doesn’t mean it’s a bird though, as there are many other types of animals that fly to varying degrees of definitions of the word. Bats, colugos, frogs, squirrels, etc, etc. It’s a beautiful animal and I feel the need to bring it out of the shadows. This week’s Specimen of the Week is… (more…)

    If I were a woodlouse

    By Emma-Louise Nicholls, on 28 January 2014

     

    If I were a woodlouse, I would stick to wood,

    And I would only go, where I know a woodlouse should,

    I wouldn’t stick my head, into a bird’s leg-bone,

    I wouldn’t use just anything, in which to make a home,

    ‘Cause the problem you might find, once you’ve wriggled in,

    Is that over time you grew larger, and the bone becomes too thin,

    So even if you turn around, and head back whence you came,

    You may find that,

    You’ve grown too fat,

    And have to die of shame.

     

    Emma-Louise Nicholls is the Curatorial Assistant at the Grant Museum of Zoology

     

    Specimen of the Week: Week Ninety-Nine

    By Emma-Louise Nicholls, on 2 September 2013

    Scary MonkeyThis is it- the runner up in the top ten specimens at the Grant Museum, and one blog away from the big 1-0-0! In the run up to the 100th blog I have brought you the top ten specimens at the Grant Museum, as voted for by…. me. I employed strict criteria with which to segregate the top ten from the other 67,990 specimens that we have in our care…

    1) It must not be on permanent display, giving you a little behind-the-scenes magic, if you will, as the specimen will then go on display for the week of which it has been named ‘Specimen’. Oh yes. That’s almost as good as our exhibition It Came From The Stores. Almost.

    2) It must have at some point in the past made me say ‘woooo’ out loud (given my childlike disposition for expressing wonderment at the world at large, this is not necessarily a hard qualification for the specimen to achieve)

    3) I must know (at least in a vague sort of a way) what species the specimen is, as SotW is researched and written within a strict one hour time frame.

    With that in mind, the runner up at Number Two, this week’s Specimen of the Week is… (more…)

    Specimen of the Week: Week Ninety-Five

    By Emma-Louise Nicholls, on 5 August 2013

    Five blogs away from the big 1-0-0! In the run up to the 100th blog I am going to bring to you the top ten specimens at the Grant Museum, as voted for by…. me. I have employed strict criteria with which to segregate the top ten from the other 67,990 specimens that we have in our care…

    1) It must not be on permanent display, giving you a little behind-the-scenes magic, if you will, as the specimen will then go on display for the week of which it has been named ‘Specimen’. Oh yes. That’s almost as good as our exhibition It Came From The Stores. Almost.

    2) It must have at some point in the past made me say ‘woooo’ out loud (given my childlike disposition for expressing wonderment at the world at large, this is not necessarily a hard qualification for the specimen to achieve)

    3) I must know (at least in a vague sort of a way) what species the specimen is, as SotW is researched and written within a strict one hour time frame.

    With that in mind, at Number Six, this week’s Specimen of the Week is… (more…)