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  • Specimen of the week 274: the Greenland shark gut

    By Will J Richard, on 13 January 2017

    Hello computer-folks. Will Richard here, blogging again. And this time I’ve chosen a pretty amazing fish… or at least a bit of it.

    Greenland shark

    Greenland shark. Image by NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program; in the public domain.

    (more…)

    Specimen of the week 269: the dogfish

    By Will J Richard, on 9 December 2016

    Hello people of the internet. Will Richard here blogging away about a favourite of mine from the Grant Museum’s collection. This week I’ve chosen a specimen that’s a little bit of everything: dog, fish, cat and shark. That’s right folks, so good they named it twice, it’s the…

    LDUCZ-V1081 lesser-spotted dogfish

    LDUCZ-V1081 lesser-spotted dogfish

    (more…)

    Specimen of the Week 253 : Moroccan phosphate fossils

    By Tannis Davidson, on 19 August 2016

    LDUCZ-V1467 Moroccan phosphate fossil label

    LDUCZ-V1467 Moroccan phosphate fossil label

    This week’s Specimen of the Week is not one, but 48 individual specimens which make up a display box highlighting various fossil teeth from Morocco. Display boxes of this sort are not uncommon as they are a visually appealing way to showcase numerous small specimens not to mention an entrepreneurial solution to add value to otherwise inexpensive individual fossils. The Grant Museum’s display box is a rather nice example of this type containing fossil teeth of 19 different species of fish and marine reptiles: (more…)

    Specimen of the week 221: The mega-toothed shark tooth

    By Will J Richard, on 4 January 2016

    LDUCZ-V1301 fossil megalodon tooth

    LDUCZ-V1301 fossil megalodon tooth

    Hello and a Happy New Year to you Grant-fans. So, the first specimen of the week of 2016 falls to me, Will Richard. And I’ve chosen a monster to kick off the year: possibly the biggest ever fish with teeth to match. This one was found on the 2nd January 1880 (seasonal!) but people have been puzzling over these dental discards for generations. They were originally believed to be the dried tongues of dragons but actually I think the truth might be scarier…

    (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…)

    The Western Australian shark cull

    By Emma-Louise Nicholls, on 14 January 2014

    The Situation
    Twenty deaths have occurred in Western Australia due to sharks, over the last one hundred years (1). On one hand every life lost is a tragedy. On the other hand 20 deaths over 100 years, is nothing compared to other causes of death such as obesity, car accidents and even lightning. Each year, more people get killed by toasters worldwide than sharks. Nevertheless, the government decided action was needed to reduce the number of shark-related marine traumas and three years ago proposed a cull. This proposal was overturned in favour of investing $1.7 million into establishing four research projects at the Department of Fisheries in Western Australia to run from 2011-12 to 2015-16. The outline of these projects was to study shark ecology and behaviour, with the intended outcome of ‘improved capability to manage shark hazards’ (2). Sadly, a shark related marine trauma occurred at the end of 2013, which resulted in the death of a young father of two. Despite the rarity of such cases, and the yet to be completed research projects at the Department of Fisheries, the incident provoked a knee-jerk reaction* from the WA government in the guise of another proposal for a shark cull in Western Australia. In an official statement to the press, the WA government stated that the cull would comprise three major components (1): (more…)

    How To: Beat a Shark in a Fight

    By Emma-Louise Nicholls, on 2 January 2014

    How To: Beat a Shark in a Fight

    Let’s not pussyfoot around with some measly small-spotted catshark or krill sucking basking shark. Let’s dive straight into the deep end and talk about the legend… the great white shark. Should you ever find yourself face to face with one of the most awe-inspiring predators in the world with no way out, here are some handy tips on how to beat a shark in a fight.

     

    Rub its nose

    Great white sharks have very sensitive snouts. The snout is covered in tiny pits called ampullae of lorenzini which if you get close enough, look like little black dots. These pits are filled with a jelly-like substance that allows the shark to sense electromagnetic fields given off by muscle contractions. Short of stopping your own heart and being stiller internally than a corpse, the best way to work around this ‘sixth sense’ of the great white shark is to over stimulate the ampullae of lorenzini by rubbing them. In smaller species, divers have discovered they can place sharks in a state of ‘hypnosis’ which they call tonic, by rubbing these pits. The shark becomes motionless and can even be manipulated in the water. So, work your best massage skills on the nose of the great white shark and it might put its lights out long enough for you to make a dash for it. (more…)

    The time to live life is now

    By Emma-Louise Nicholls, on 7 November 2013

    As both of my parents worked in travel I guess whether you fall down in the camp of nature or on the side of nurture, eitherway I was probably destined to be a traveller myself. Although I was a late developer in this area, only travelling alone for the first time once at university, I have since clocked up 49 countries and have back of the envelope plans for well over fifty more. As a zoologist and conservationist seeing the natural world first hand is indescribable, though my background also makes me only too aware of the rapidity with which the planet is changing. I don’t just mean animals and the environment, people themselves are changing as well. It is not an uncommon site in Kenya to see Masai tribesmen in the bush wearing traditional red blankets and sandles, and herding goats whilst chatting away on their Nokia. But I feel privileged to have seen them and witnessed their lives and cultures even in this transitional state. In a few years they’ll be wearing GAP t.shirts and Nike trainers, tearing around the bush on quad bikes*. There is simply nothing like seeing mountain gorillas in the wild, being woken up in your sleeping bag by a giraffe munching leaves outside your tent, or being caught in the middle of a capuchin monkey turf war in the Amazon rainforest. (more…)

    Specimen of the Week: Week 104

    By Emma-Louise Nicholls, on 7 October 2013

    Good gracious it is week 104. Those with good maths skills and a knowledge of how many weeks there are in an average Earth year would conclude that this is therefore the two year anniversary of the Specimen of the Week blog. PARTY. To celebrate, I elected to be allowed to write about a species within the most exciting, dynamic, elite group of animals known to man. (Only the fifth SotW to be on this group, out of 104. I think that’s very restrained). This week’s Specimen of the Week is… (more…)

    How To: Be a Bad Zoologist

    By Emma-Louise Nicholls, on 3 October 2013

    Do you having any burning desires to have something explained by someone on the inside? This blog series is a How To Guide for the museological musings of a Museum Assistant. This edition will explain in detail…

     

    How To: Be a Bad Zoologist

     

    Put on your Dr Alan Grant hat and find your best palaeontological hammer and chisel. Go to some remote location rarely visited and poorly studied. Find a perfectly preserved fossil specimen that is a missing link, hugely important to mankind and that will in one rocky lump, answer a million questions that have been burning amongst the scientific community for decades. Dust it off, polish it up, put it on your mantlepiece, and don’t mention it to a soul. Or you could flog it to another private collector, just so long as it never sees the light of day, or the inquisitive eye of an expert. (more…)