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  • Specimen of the Week: Week 180

    By Mark Carnall, on 23 March 2015

    Scary Monkey This week’s specimen of the week is an object that is very special to me and one of the objects featured in our current exhibition Strange Creatures: The Art of Unknown Animals. The theme of the exhibition is representations of animals centred around George Stubbs’ painting of a kangaroo, Europe’s first painting of an Australian animal which became the archetype for how people imagined how kangaroos looked, despite the animal itself never being seen by George Stubbs. In addition to this painting the exhibition focuses on representations of animals across modern scientific modelling, medieval manuscripts and, a part of the exhibition that is very close to my heart, representations of dinosaurs in popular culture in the form of toys, comics, video games and film.

    This week’s object from the exhibition is from my own personal collection, my first ever dinosaur toy which may be surprising to find in a museum but mass produced ephemera can tell us a lot about societies’ interpretation and response to ideas of extinct creatures despite being very far removed from any actual scientific investigation or research.

    This week’s specimen of the week is…

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    Museums Showoff: Celebrating the mundane

    By Mark Carnall, on 18 October 2013

    Earlier this week I was lucky(?) enough to have a spot on the excellent Museum Mile Museums Showoff special as part of the Bloomsbury Festival. For those of you who don’t know, Museums Showoff is a series of informal open-mic events where museum professionals have nine minutes to show off amazing discoveries, their research or just to vent steam to an audience of museum workers and museum goers. My nine minutes were about the 99% of objects that form museum collections but you won’t see on display. They fill drawers, cupboards, rooms and whole warehouses. But why do we have all this stuff? Who is it for? In my skit on Tuesday I only had nine minutes but I thought I’d take the time to expand on the 99% and the problem of too much stuff (particularly in natural history museums) and what we can do with it.
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    Trace fossils and not-quite dinosaurs

    By Nicholas J Booth, on 27 September 2012

    On Friday this week (28th September) I will be helping to clean one of the largest, and to my mind most impressive, specimens on display in UCL’s Rock Room – the 243 million year old footprint of a mammal-like reptile (but definitely NOT a dinosaur) called Chirotherium. I say definitely not a dinosaur because I’ve made this rather embarrassing geological/ zoological mistake a couple of times and been told off for it.

    As the footprint is displayed in its own (heavy) glass it has taken more planning than you would have thought is required just to clean a specimen. In honour of this I have decided to write my first Geology blog on the subject.

    Image of the Chirotherium footprint on display in the Rock Room

    Chirotherium footprint on display in the Rock Room

    The Chirotherium lived during the Triassic Period, 248 – 206 million years ago, when most of the land on earth formed the super continent Pangaea. Its track prints have been known about since 1834, when examples were found in the German central state of Thuringia, however they have since been found across Europe, North America and parts of Africa.
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