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  • Specimen of the Week 237: The Common Starling

    By Rachel H Bray, on 29 April 2016

    1. A Familiar Sight

    (… and long may that remain so!)

    You may recognise this week’s sociable and rowdy Specimen of the Week: the Common Starling (Sturnus vulgaris). Starlings are familiar to many Brits, and SOTW blog readers from Europe, Asia, Africa and even those in northern Australia may also recognise this tenacious bird. Despite declining numbers in recent years they remain one of the UK’s most common garden birds. Starlings are especially profuse in southern England, often being sighted in towns and city centres as well as more rural areas.

    Close up of the head of the starling

    A Common Starling – Sturnus vulgaris LDUCZ-Y1547. … The star of the show or in this case the Specimen of the Week Blog.

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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

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    Specimen of the Week 235: Alizarin Stained Chicken Chick

    By Paolo W Viscardi, on 15 April 2016

    My turn to pick the Specimen of the Week came a bit late for Easter, so instead of an egg I thought I’d go for what comes afterwards…

    Chicken chick LDUCZ-NON3148

    Chicken chick LDUCZ-NON3148

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    Specimen of the Week 234: Jar of Earthworms

    By Dean W Veall, on 11 April 2016

    Hello to you all out there on the interwebs. Dean Veall here. My specimen of the week is another in the ‘Jar Of’ series, admittedly a series of one so far, but a series. Right. This is a bit of delayed SoTW due to the enforced shut down of Grant Museum Towers by our beloved overlords, so apologies if you missed your regular Friday fix. This week’s Specimen of the Week is…..

    Jar of earthworms LDUCZ-G281

    Jar of earthworms LDUCZ-G281

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    Specimen of the Week 233: The mouse-deer skeleton

    By Will J Richard, on 1 April 2016

    Hello Grant-fans! Will Richard again, taking my turn to bring you specimen of the week. Here goes…

    LDUCZ-Z523 Mouse-deer skeleton

    LDUCZ-Z523 mouse-deer skeleton

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    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 …

     

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    Specimen of the Week 231: Common Pipistrelle

    By Rachel H Bray, on 18 March 2016

    In case you haven’t heard, it’s UCL BAT WEEK! So it seems appropriate that this week’s Specimen of the Week is a small nocturnal friend of ours… the common pipistrelle (Pipistrellus pipistrellus).

    Photograph of the fluid specimen, Pipistrellus pipistrellus

    POW! It’s not the famous crimefighter this time, it’s the common pipistrelle. LDUCZ-Z2603 Pipistrellus pipistrellus

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    Specimen of the Week 230: The Beaver Skull

    By Jack Ashby, on 11 March 2016

    North American beaver skull. LDUCZ-Z2731

    North American beaver skull. LDUCZ-Z2731

    It is purely coincidence that Specimen of the Week 230 – the number most associated with going to the dentist [tooth hurty. Apologies.] – is an animal famous for the incredible feats of its teeth.

    Beavers can cut down huge trees, owing to the superb adaptations of their skulls.

    Like squirrels, but at the bottom of trees

    As members of the squirrel-like rodent group Sciuromorpha, beavers have massive, ever-growing, self-sharpening front teeth. Rodent incisors are often differently coloured on the front and back. The orange substance on the front side is super hard enamel, while the back is unusually exposed dentine (a softer material which fills the inside in most teeth). When rodents bite on hard material, or even by biting their top teeth against their bottom teeth, the dentine erodes away at a faster rate than the enamel, essentially sharping the “blade”. (more…)

    Specimen of the Week 229: Fossil Poo

    By Paolo W Viscardi, on 4 March 2016

    It’s time for my turn to do the new and streamlined Specimen of the Week – and this time I’m pleased to bring you something on an underwhelming par with certain fossil fish that regularly feature on the blog.

    LDUCZ-X1077 Coprolite

    LDUCZ-X1077 Coprolite

    In fact, it could be argued that this specimen is so underwhelming that it’s crap… literally. That’s right, I bring you… (more…)

    Specimen of the Week 228: Rough-nosed horned lizard

    By Dean W Veall, on 26 February 2016

    Rough-nosed lizard (Ceratophora aspera) LDUCZ-X431

    Rough-nosed lizard (Ceratophora aspera) LDUCZ-X431

    Hello Specimen of the Week fans, Dean Veall here. We’re mixing it up with our weekly specimen blogs, publishing on Fridays and making them shorter and snappier. So here goes. My main motivation for choosing this specimen is the pure patriotism of a Welsh man exiled here in London. How, you may ask, does this small lizard indigineous to Sri Lanka invoke the land of my fathers, green valleys, cawl and industrial heritage? It be a dragon……

     

     

     

     

     

     

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