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  • 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

    (more…)

    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 …

     

    (more…)

    Specimen of the Week 216: European Plaice

    By Dean W Veall, on 30 November 2015

    Hello dear Specimen of the Week readers, Dean Veall here. This week I shall be bringing you a very fishy (again) Specimen of the Week, how can I possibly top the three toothed pufferfish you may be asking yourself? Well, I believe I have for two very good reasons. Firstly the fish I have chosen is one of the asymmetrical marvels of the natural world. Secondly, has one of the most curmudgeonly comical faces of all animals (I challenge you to find me an animal that beats this specimen). And finally, has recently featured in the events that have accompained our Glass Delusions exhibition. This week’s Specimen of the Week is…..

    (more…)

    Fish printing and reanimating the dead

    By Eleanor Morgan, on 14 May 2015

    IMG_1779

    Inking the fish

    How do you reanimate things that are dead? Since beginning my role as Artist in Residence at the Grant Museum I’ve been worrying at this question. My focus is on the Museum’s collection of glass sponges, but over the past six months these extraordinary animals have pushed me down other paths to explore. Some of these have led to very productive failures.

    I’m thinking in particular of my attempts at waterless lithography, which is printing technique that uses silicone (in the form of bathroom sealant) to repel ink. You draw an image on a piece of metal, cover it in bathroom sealant and then once it is dried you wash the metal and the sealant will come off the areas on which you drew your picture. You now have a negative of your picture, which you can ink up and put through a printing press. I thought this was an ideal technique and material with which to explore glass sponges, which are themselves formed of silica. However, the problem came when I looked closer at the bottle of silicone remover that I was using – printed on the back of the label was a drawing of a dead fish. These chemicals are deadly to sea creatures if they enter their ecosystem. It seemed particularly grim for me to pursue a method of making images that could potentially kill its subject.

     

    I’ve recently been exploring another fishy route. I had been told about an old Japanese technique called Gyotaku, which translates as ‘fish rubbing’. (more…)

    Grant Museum Show’n’Tell: Soda Lakes

    By Dean W Veall, on 5 November 2014

    Dean Veall here. Over the last year I’ve been hosting our new lunch hour event series Show’ n ‘ Tell, with PhD students from across UCL sharing some of their amazing research and choosing just one object from our collection of 68,000 to tell the the assembled audience what they know about it. If you couldn’t make it to our last event, fear not, Irrum Ali from UCL Communications and Marketing came along and here’s what happened.

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    Specimen of the Week: Week 156 (The Evolution of Life on Land)

    By Jack Ashby, on 6 October 2014

    Scary MonkeyIt’s the third birthday of the Specimen of the Week blogs, so this one is a special one, tackling one of the biggest events in global history (no exaggeration). It’s also the start of winter term at UCL, and that means that Grant Museum returns to doing the very thing our collections were first put together for – spending the day teaching students about life.

    This term every week we have a palaeobiology class where the students learn about vertebrate life from the beginning – looking at each group in turn as they evolve in the fossil record. That has inspired my choice of specimen this week.

    As an Australian mammal nerd, it’s often tempting to think that nothing interesting happened between the appearance of multi-cellular life a little over 500 million years ago, and 200 million years ago when the first platypus-ish things appeared*. However, sometimes it’s important to think about where it all began: the fishy animals without which there would be no you, no me, no internet cats, and no platypuses.

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

    Specimen of the Week: Week 133

    By Emma-Louise Nicholls, on 28 April 2014

    This is it. I’m not going to start wearing one white glove and singing high pitched songs. I mean, this is my last Specimen of the Week blog. Wait, wait, before you start writing petitions and protesting outside the Grant Museum, the Specimen of the Week is continuing, it is just me who is not. Not in a life or death way, I am moving up the ladder and to a new museum, thus tearfully leaving my beloved Grant Museum in the hands of my lovely colleagues. This blog series will also be left in their hands so, fear not, you will still have a fantastic start to every Monday morning. I have chosen the very best specimen in the collection for my last SotW blog (so it’s downhill from here for everyone else. HAH). I really hope you enjoy it. This week’s last-authored-by-Emma Specimen of the Week is… (more…)

    Specimen of the Week: Week 128

    By Emma-Louise Nicholls, on 24 March 2014

    Here at the Grant Museum we love all species of animal. We are not racist, sexist, size-ist, species-ist, or any such ist at all. It was not us that named this animal, but if it had been us who gave it this particular common name, it would have been through love and appreciation, and not meant in a derogatory way. For there is nothing wrong with being how this animal is described in its common name. Nothing at all. In fact, I can relate. Ok, caveat over, this week’s Specimen of the Week is… (more…)

    Specimen of the Week: Week 121

    By Emma-Louise Nicholls, on 3 February 2014

    The most important thing everyone needs to know about today is that it is my lovely sister’s birthday. Unfortunately/fortunately she is not a specimen in the Grant Museum and so writing about her doesn’t really fit in the remit of Specimen of the Week. It’s fine though as I have another (genuine) specimen to awe and inspire you instead this week, it is one of the most respectable animals in its kingdom (the animal one). This week’s Specimen of the Week is… (more…)

    Underwhelming fossil fish of the month: January 2014

    By Mark Carnall, on 30 January 2014

    It’s the first underwhelming fossil fish of the month for 2014 and in order to usher in the new year I’ve picked a particularly unspecial fossil fish for your eyes only. If you want to be underwhelmed even more then all the UFFoTM posts can be found under this handy tag. First up though, what does this look like to you?

    http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-BFvhevMmi1Q/TPr116uuHQI/AAAAAAAAAOI/wg6S_ZMH444/s1600/rorschach-test-dog.jpg

    A pretty butterfly?

    Wow. Well from your response I can tell you have some serious psychological issues that need dealing with. The above image isn’t actually a fossilised Rorschach inkblot (named after the comic book character with the same name in the Watchmen). The keen eyed amongst you will have spotted that it’s actually this month’s fossil fish of the ahem month albeit digitally tweaked. You know you’re in for a treat when the most interesting aspect of it is that it resembles an amorphous splodge and tenuously at that. Read on in the vain hope that it gets better than this. (more…)