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  • Specimen of the week 279: Jar of mole (crickets)

    By Will J Richard, on 17 February 2017

    Hello! Will Richard here, blogging again for you all. And this time I’ve chosen a specimen that I can’t believe isn’t better known. Everybody loves a jar of moles… so how about a jar of mole crickets?

    LDUCZ-L45 European mole cricket

    LDUCZ-L45 European mole cricket

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    Why natural history museums are important. Specimen of the Week 278: The British Antarctic Survey Limpets

    By Jack Ashby, on 10 February 2017

    There is much more to a natural history museum than meets the eye, and that’s mostly because relatively tiny proportions of their collections are on display. At the Grant Museum of Zoology we are lucky enough to have about 12% of our collection on display. That’s because we have a lot of tiny things in the Micrarium and our collection is relatively small, with 68,000 objects. While we REALLY like to cram as much in our cases as is sensible, these percentages are not realistic for many museums, whose collections run into the millions.

    Limpets from South Georgia. LDUCZ-P878 Nacella concinna

    Limpets from South Georgia. LDUCZ-P879 Nacella concinna

    The vast majority of specimens in natural history museums, ours included, were not intended for display, and that includes this week’s Specimen of the Week… (more…)

    Specimen of the Week 277: Hornbill Skull

    By Dean W Veall, on 3 February 2017

    Black-casqed hornbill LDUCZ-Y1710 Ceratogymna atrata

    Black-casqed hornbill LDUCZ-Y1710 Ceratogymna atrata

    Hello Specimen of the Week fans, Dean Veall here. This week I’ve chosen a specimen that is a bit of an avian showoff in the animal world (**PLUG PLUG**Join us on Thursday 9 March for more showoffs in Animal Showoff **PLUG PLUG**). That is no mean feat for birds, a group of vertebrates that are known for their showoffy-ness. My Specimen of Week is a hornbill skull and I fear I cannot restrain myself from singing the one song hornbills are famous for. Can’t place the song? Read on….. 

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    Specimen of the Week 276: The Tarsier

    By Rowan J J Tinker, on 27 January 2017

    In a way the shelves are an encased tomb, shut and sealed away until periodically exhumed of their contents. Eddies scatter of rime-like dust now stirred as a looming hand reaches silently into the dark. Once sleeping, now disturbed, a lingering spectre awakens and begins its reanimated shamblings anew.

    We have a spirit in our midst. Not just the liquid kind either, or even a trick of the light for that matter, but a pure dead spectre in the flesh…

    LDUCZ-Z1542. Tarsius sp.

    Preserved tarsier (Tarsius sp.) at the Grant Museum of Zoology. LDUCZ-Z1542

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    Specimen of the Week 275: Mystery wax models

    By Tannis Davidson, on 20 January 2017

    In a radical departure from tradition, this week’s blog will focus on what we don’t know about a specimen, rather than what we do know. The reason being is that the specimen in question is rather mysterious.  All of the usual pieces of information which can help identify a specimen are lacking  – no number, no entry in the accession records, no associated documentation and no taxonomic information.

    A perfect candidate for some major research which is why it was ‘auctioned’ as a mystery object to this year’s students taking part in the Collection Curatorship class as part of their MA in Museum Studies at UCL.  The aim of this course is to introduce students to the core skills of a curator : to understand objects and how to research them.  Luckily for us, the ‘natural history’ group chose this specimen and are about to flex their collective research muscles in order to help identify this specimen…

    Grant Museum of Zoology Mystery wax models

    Grant Museum of Zoology Mystery wax models

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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.

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    Specimen of the Week 273: The Narwhal Tusk

    By Jack Ashby, on 6 January 2017

    Happy New Year. It’s the start of January and we are all now staring face-first into the maw of 2017. Let’s hope it’s a good one. When the animal-owner of this week’s Specimen of the Week stares into anything, it has to do so at a distance. That’s because it has one of these giant straight tusks sticking horizontally out of the front of its face. This week’s Specimen of the Week is…

    Narwhal tusk. LDUCZ-Z2168

    Narwhal tusk. LDUCZ-Z2168

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    Specimen of the Week 271: Helmeted guineafowl

    By Dean W Veall, on 23 December 2016

    Dean Veall here. ‘Twas the night before the night before Christmas and all the Museum, not a creature was stirring (on account of them being dead and all), not even a mouse, (because that particular specimen was preserved using an experimental freeze drying technique). Festive greetings blog readers. I’ve chosen the guineafowl for my specimen this week, which has (sort of, ish) festive connections. The wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo), was often confused with the more familiar guineafowl in the 1600’s when European settlers reached America, due to the the featherless heads and similar colouration of the plumage.  And with that tenuous festive link, this week’s Specimen of the Week is:

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    Specimen of the Week 270: Dalmanites trilobite

    By Tannis Davidson, on 16 December 2016

     

    LDUCZ-J422 Dalmanites caudatus

    LDUCZ-J422 Dalmanites caudatus

    O trilobite, o trilobite
    You must be Dalmanites
    O trilobite, o trilobite,
    You must be Dalmanites

    Your exoskell’s ovoid in outline
    Your frontal lobe is vaulted fine
    O trilobite, o trilobite
    You must be Dalmanites

    Eleven thoracic segments
    Pleural furrows deeply impressed
    O trilobite, o trilobite
    You must be Dalmanites*

    This week’s Specimen of the Week is a jolly little chap, ready to bring the Christmas cheer to Grant Museum blog readers everywhere.  An early gift from Santa’s pack, this fossil has recently arrived at the Grant Museum following a transfer from UCL’s Geology teaching collection. Despite being a bit broken and a bit repaired, this trilobite has received a warm welcome from all who have glanced upon his charming petrified remains. Behold this week’s Specimen of the Week… (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…)