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  • Specimen of the Week: Week 144

    By Mark Carnall, on 14 July 2014

    Specimen of the Week: Week TwoAre you settled to read the 144th weekly specimen from the Grant Museum? This week I continue my personal mission to highlight the more obscure, complex and confusing animals. From a very early age our exposure to the animal kingdom is focused on the cute, charismatic and large animals, what we call ‘Hollywood animals‘ here at the Grant Museum.  They adorn lunch boxes, T-shirts and fill zoos but the sheer diversity of animal life is so much richer. Why is it that we can all recognise and name specific mammals but lump other huge animal groups under one name- crabs, frogs, spiders etc. Despite the fact that mammal species are but a tiny proportion of all animal species, around 5000 or so out of an estimated 1.5 million described species. It might be that we’re psychologically geared to remembering animals that are like us or perhaps it’s part of our brain wiring to remember animals that can stomp/eat/maul us. Either way, this week’s specimen is one that I’m fairly confident will be new to many of you.

    Prepare to be amazed, this week’s specimen of the week is…

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    Specimen of the Week: Week 143

    By Rowan J J Tinker, on 7 July 2014

    Scary Monkey

    For this week, it’s my turn to step up to the ravenous hoard of knowledge-hungry blog followers (that’s you fantastic lot). But first, before I am ripped apart in a gladiator-esque fashion, I’d like to take this opportunity to introduce myself; Hi all, I am Rowan. I am currently acting as Visitor Services Assistant on a temporary basis, so my time with you shall be unfortunately short yet sweet. So do drop in and you can see me at the front desk fumbling around in childlike wonder at all the amazingly weird thingies the Grant Museum has to offer.

    I’ve decided to choose a specimen who will always hold a special place in my heart, having been paired with this sullen looking creature during one of my zoological assignments this year (I’ve just finished the second year of my UCL Natural Sciences degree). One of us was tasked to identify the other, yet I’m still unsure as to who (between me and this fine critter) actually did any effective identification as I spent most of my time confusedly prodding and pestering this specimen; a scientific method which I can only professionally describe as “faffing around”.

    Sadly, this specimen is a little lonely having been blessed with an underwhelming greyish-brown and mistakenly ugly appearance. Unfortunately, being tucked away in a quiet corner along with the rather garish cephalopods, annelids and tapeworms (I’m sure they make wonderful neighbours) doesn’t quite help their romantic situation either.

    Without further ado, this specimen of the week is…. (more…)

    Specimen of the Week: Week 139

    By Dean W Veall, on 9 June 2014

    Specimen of the Week: Week Two

    Dean Veall here. This week it’s me that is bringing to your attention one specimen from the 68,000 we have in the Museum. When faced with the choice I was bereft, 68,THOUSAND specimens, spoilt for choice is a better way to think about it. With that in mind  I knew I was keen to advance the agenda set out by Mark to address the big and furry vertebrate imbalance (nb. not all vertebrates are either big or furry) . So, my specimen is drawn from one of our invertebrate cases. My specimen also had to be something that has contributed to the ‘Story of Dean Veall‘ . So here it is but, a word of caution, this week’s tale involves mild peril, articulated lorries and temporary blindness. Intrigued, well dear reader, read on, read on. This week’s Specimen of the Week is… (more…)

    Specimen of the Week: Week 138

    By Stacy Hackner, on 2 June 2014

    Scary MonkeyThis week’s specimen is another invertebrate. As a bone researcher filling at the front desk, invertebrates don’t usually hold my attention (they lack bones, you see), but I make an exception for this unassuming annelid-like sea creature. This Specimen of the Week is a wet specimen, greyish in color, with what looks like an eye near its mouth, which means it’s a… (more…)

    Specimen of the Week: Week 136

    By Mark Carnall, on 19 May 2014

    Scary MonkeyDid you know that of the 135 previous specimen of the week posts only 20% of them have featured invertebrates! I’m abusing my specimen of the week writing privileges to do my best to address this grave misrepresentation. Poor invertebrates. This week I’ve chosen a specimen that is part biological material, part model that gives us an insight into how biology was taught in the past.

    This week’s specimen of the week is…

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    Specimen of the Week: Week 131

    By Emma-Louise Nicholls, on 14 April 2014

    I have some extremely sad news to share with you. After three years of loving every minute (not as much sarcasm as you’d think) of working at my beloved Grant Museum, I am moving up the ladder and on to another museum. This of course is super exciting news for the most part, but it means that I will be leaving the Grant Museum at the end of April and thus, alas, will no longer be writing Specimen of the Week.

    Do not worry my friends, for the legacy shall continue. From the 5th May onwards, SotW will be written by other members of Team Grant so you will still get your weekly fix of specimen and species information. But as for me, next week is my penultimate Specimen of the Week blog. So I shall try to make sure my last three (counting this one) are REALLY good (though, obviously, I have always tried to make them REALLY good). This week’s Specimen of the Week is… (more…)

    Specimen of the Week: Week 126

    By Emma-Louise Nicholls, on 10 March 2014

    This week’s specimen is a big fan of travel, loves its food, prefers to live in warm environments, enjoys hanging out in restaurants, and hates the cold with a passion. This is all a perfect description of myself. But don’t worry, given that this blog is set to include pictures of the specimen in question, I thought I’d spare you and make it about something else, a specimen with whom I happen to have a lot in common. This week’s Specimen of the Week is… (more…)

    Specimen of the Week: Week 125

    By Emma-Louise Nicholls, on 3 March 2014

    This week’s animal is one that isn’t in need of ‘a little love’. Not because it gets a lot, because believe me- it does not, but because it just doesn’t care. I’m pretty confident it goes about its business, doing it’s thing, without a care in the world. I respect that. Though I’m not sure I appreciate this animal, not as much as perhaps I should? This week’s Specimen of the Week…

     

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    Specimen of the Week: Week 122

    By Emma-Louise Nicholls, on 10 February 2014

    It’s Valentine’s Day this week! I don’t subscribe to the modern idea that Valentine’s Day is a commercial farce designed to make you pay three times the price for one ‘romantic dinner’ out and 20 times the normal price for a rose of a specific colour. Well ok those are true, but Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to comprise either. Personally, I am REALLY hoping that this year someone loves me enough to get me membership to the British Arachnological Society for V-Day (link supplied in case you’re sufficiently moved, as it isn’t looking likely otherwise). But I’m not too sad as here at the Grant Museum I am surrounded by love. Such as in my choice of super lovey specimen this week! This Week’s Specimen of the Week is… (more…)

    NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM BINGO!

    By Mark Carnall, on 15 October 2013

    My colleague Jack Ashby alluded to the Natural History Bingo Card in a recent blog post so I thought I’d take the time to present it to the wide world! Natural history museums are funny places. Despite the millions of species of animals and the enormous variation within species between broods, sexes, life stage, populations and seasonal variations you’d expect that you could visit every natural history museum in the World (finances allowing) and never see the same thing twice. You might think that, but the truth is many natural history museums have the same stuff on display whether you’re at the Grant Museum, the Natural History Museum London or in Paris, New York, Prague or Plymouth.

    In fact, some specimens are so common, you can go around a natural history museum with this handy NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM BINGO* and nine times out of ten you’ll have seen most of these specimens before you get to the gift shop. So what gives?

    Natural History Bingo Card

    Click to embiggernate & cut out and Keep! Natural History Bingo modified from the version in Carnall, M.A (2011): Completely Rethinking the Organisation of Natural History Museums: A Taxonomically Arranged National Collection. NatSCA News:21

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