Museums & Collections Blog
  •  
  •  
  • Categories

  •  
  • Tags

  •  
  • Archives

  • Specimen of the Week 268: The carp – How things got fishy

    By Jack Ashby, on 2 December 2016

    This week in The Conversation I wrote that there is no biological definition of fish that doesn’t involve humans. However the group that most people recognise as the fishiest are the ray-finned fishes. They have fins supported by a series of fine flexible rods. It is the ray-fins that have gone on to be the dominant vertebrates in the seas, lakes and rivers: there are around 30,000 species. This makes them by far the most diverse vertebrate group, and I’d like to explore how that happened. Among them is this week’s Specimen of the Week:

    Common carp skeleton LDUCZ-V543

    Common carp skeleton LDUCZ-V543

    (more…)

    Specimen of the Week 267: The sea squirt

    By Jack Ashby, on 25 November 2016

    You can’t choose your family. This adage is undeniable when it comes to talking about our evolutionary history – we cannot choose to become unrelated to certain groups of animals. One of our closer relatives doesn’t look a lot like us. It is effectively a tough fluid-filled translucent bag sitting on the bottom of the sea, spending its time sucking in water and feeding on microscopic particles it finds there. This week’s specimen of the week is your cousin…

    Sea squirt (with three parastic bivalvles molluscs in it). LDUCZ-Q329

    Sea squirt (with three parastic bivalvles molluscs in it). LDUCZ-Q329

    (more…)

    Specimen of the Week 266: Frog skeleton

    By Dean W Veall, on 18 November 2016

    Hello all, Dean Veall here. This week I’m presenting a specimen of the week from a species that is a firm favourite of the UK wildlife scene and, as the Winter starts to creep upon us, one that we are likely to see less of as they remain dormant in nice warm compost heaps or amongst dead wood or leaves. My specimen of the week is the….

    (more…)

    Specimen of the Week 265: Termite collection

    By Tannis Davidson, on 11 November 2016

    The story of this week’s Specimen of the Week begins in 1862, in Prague, with the establishment of a small business offering teaching materials to aid in the study of natural sciences.  The business grew, and by the late 1880’s, its proprietor Václav Frič was procuring zoological specimens from around the world (1).  He accomplished this through contacting traveller-collectors such as fellow Czech Enrique Stanko Vraz – the man who collected this week’s highlighted specimens…

    LDUCZ-L71, L72, L73, L75, L77, L78, L80, L82 Termes bellicosus

    LDUCZ-L71, L72, L73, L75, L76, L77, L78, L80, L82 Macrotermes bellicosus

    (more…)

    Specimen of the week 264: the golden hamster

    By Will J Richard, on 4 November 2016

    Hello e-people. Will Richard here and it’s specimen of the week time again. And this week I’ve gone for a chubby-cheeked favourite. There are about 400,000 of these charming little creatures kept as pets in the UK alone. That’s right it’s the…

    LDUCZ-Z713 golden hamster skeleton

    LDUCZ-Z713 golden hamster skeleton

    (more…)

    Specimen of the Week 263: The fossil brachiopods

    By Jack Ashby, on 28 October 2016

    Some animals are most commonly defined by what they are not. The first thing that most people say about horseshoe crabs, for example is that they are not crabs. Likewise flying lemurs are not lemurs, camel spiders are not spiders and golden moles are not moles*. I kind of feel sorry for these animals that are denied a unique description of their own in this way; their status as being “not something else” is given as the most interesting thing about them. This week’s Specimen of the Week is one such animal.

    Fossil Spirifer brachiopods LDUCZ-O26

    Fossil Spirifer brachiopods LDUCZ-O26

    (more…)

    Specimen of the Week 262: Little spotted kiwi

    By Paolo W Viscardi, on 21 October 2016

    Welcome zoology fans, it’s another installation of the Specimen of the Week and this time we have something I like to call the Badger bird. I call it that not because it has black and white stripes on its face (it doesn’t), but because it’s the closest the bird world has managed to get to a myopic, snuffling, nocturnal, earthworm-devouring, somewhat stinky, mammal. That’s right, it’s the

    LDUCZ-Y1575 Apteryx owenii

    LDUCZ-Y1575 Apteryx owenii skeleton

    (more…)

    Specimen of the Week 261: Bombus

    By Dean W Veall, on 14 October 2016

    LDUCZ-L3309 Bumblebee (Bombus sp.)

    LDUCZ-L3309 Bumblebee (Bombus sp.)

    Dean Veall here. My specimen of the week is one that was a feature of the summer but will now become a less common sight as the winter approaches. It’s a specimen that represents some 275 species found across the genus Bombus and of which 24 call the UK home. This week’s specimen of the week is….

     

     

    (more…)

    Specimen of the Week 260: the handy man

    By Will J Richard, on 7 October 2016

    Hello internet! Will Richard here, picking another favourite from the Grant Museum’s shelves. And this time I’ve chosen a close relative and probably the first ape to move beyond punching with rocks. It’s the…

    LDUCZ-Z2017 Homo habilis skull model

    LDUCZ-Z2017 Homo habilis skull model

    (more…)

    Specimen of the Week 259 : Bird of Paradise

    By Jack Ashby, on 30 September 2016

    Less bird-of paradise skeleton. LDUCZ-Y1696

    Less bird-of paradise skeleton. LDUCZ-Y1696

    If natural selection can be summarised as “survival of the fittest”, how is it that some animals have evolved features that seem to be rather unhelpful to their survival? Deer antlers, peacock tails and babirusa tusks do not help an animal to stay alive. Darwin asked a similar question in The Origin of Species, and also came up with an answer – sexual selection.

    Sexual selection is a sub-set of natural selection, where the driving force is not on the animal to survive, but instead to have the most descendants. It is the mechanism by which species evolve weapons that help them fight off rivals; ornaments that make them more attractive to the opposite sex; or behaviours that ensure sexual encounters result in more or fitter babies. One of the best examples of absurdly ornamented animals are male birds-of-paradise. (more…)