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  • Specimen of the week 356: Lynx skull

    By Christopher J Wearden, on 17 August 2018

    Specimen of the week 356: Lynx skull

    Earlier this year BBC released a new documentary series which focused on the lives of Big Cats,  helping viewers learn more about the lives of this fabulous family of animals. The series not only focused on the well-known cats such as tigers and lions, but also on species which don’t typically receive the same levels of attention. I hope this week’s blog can help shed even more light on one of these fascinating animals, it’s the…

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    Specimen of the Week 353: The exploded crocodile skull

    By Hannah Cornish, on 27 July 2018

    Specimen of the week this week is the skull of a giant predator which has been subject to a very special preparation method. The result is not only educational, but is surely the specimen of the week with the coolest name ever, allow me to introduce…

     

    LDUCZ-X121 exploded skull of Crocodylus porosus (saltwater crocodile)

    LDUCZ-X121 exploded skull of Crocodylus porosus (saltwater crocodile)

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    Specimen of the Week 352: The dolphin fin

    By Christopher J Wearden, on 20 July 2018

    Specimen of the Week: Dolphin fin (Z640)

    Good morning to all Specimen of the Week readers. Working front of house at the Grant Museum I am fortunate enough to witness the faces of countless visitors light up as they enter the museum and take a first look at the fascinating objects we have on display. Today’s specimen often provokes a strong reaction from visitors and sometimes even draws attention away from our more famous residents. This isn’t because it is a large or visually impressive specimen, but because it clearly demonstrates the anatomical similarities we share with our tetrapod relatives (tetrapods are four-limbed vertebrates including living and extinct amphibians, reptiles and mammals). Without further ado I would like to introduce you to our very own…

    Dolphin fin, Delphinus delphis LDUCZ – Z640

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    Specimen of the Week 351: The carrion crow

    By Nadine Gabriel, on 13 July 2018

    Hello everyone! I’m very sad to say that this is my last Specimen of the Week post because my internship finishes at the end of July. My final specimen is a carrion crow, and it was collected from a road on the Isle of Anglesey, Wales in 1993, and then donated to us in 2008 by the Museum of London. The purpose of the donation was “to fill a gap in the bird teaching material”. Read on to find out more about this magnificent bird…

    Taxidermy carrion crow, Corvus corone LDUCZ-Y1533

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    Specimen of the Week 350: The Plastic Fantastics

    By Tannis Davidson, on 6 July 2018

    Four fantastic plastic moulds Australosomus merlei: Clockwise from top left: LDUCZ-V1685, LDUCZ-V1696, LDUCZ-1697, LDUCZ-V1698

    Four moulds of Australosomus merlei: Clockwise from top left: LDUCZ-V1685, LDUCZ-V1696, LDUCZ-1697, LDUCZ-V1698

    This week’s Specimen of the Week is a celebration of diversity, fashion and fabulousness. It pays tribute to all the specimens who have suffered discrimination or denied equal status for not being considered ‘real’ specimens. Yes, I’m referring to the casts and particularly the moulds in natural history collections which are too seldom given pride of place on museum display shelves despite contributing an incalculable value in the transmission of scientific ideas and knowledge.

    Casts in natural history museums are often considered second-class museum specimens; their primary function to exemplify the original specimen for comparative purposes. The moulds which produce the casts are arguably even lower down the ladder of regard – transitional objects used in the creation of offspring specimens (casts) and rarely displayed or considered accessionable objects in their own right.

    Apart from their value as conduits of reproduction, moulds are also a resource illustrating both innovation in technique and the fashions of their time. Without further ado, this week’s Specimen of the Week salutes… (more…)

    Specimen of the week 349: The nine-banded armadillo

    By Christopher J Wearden, on 29 June 2018

    Happy Friday to all Specimen of the Week readers. After a recent road trip across the southern United States, I’m bringing you a curious creature that can be found all the way from Texas to Tennessee. They are known for their distinctive shape and defensive abilities, but as we’ll see, there is more than just the shell to admire about these animals. It’s our very own…

    Nine-banded armadillo, Dasypus novemcinctus LDUCZ-Z2791

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    Specimen of the Week 348: The salp

    By Hannah Cornish, on 22 June 2018

    Specimen of the Week this week was collected from the seas off Naples where it jetted around the Mediterranean breaking records and enjoying a remarkably complicated love life. Specimen of the Week is….

     

    LDUCZ-T23 the salp Salpa maxima

    LDUCZ-T23 the salp Salpa maxima

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    Specimen of the Week 347: The Bengal monitor skull

    By Nadine Gabriel, on 15 June 2018

    This specimen of the week is a lizard found throughout Asia. They have a colourful youth, are shy around humans and have been known to shelter in abandoned termite mounds. Say hello to the Bengal monitor (Varanus bengalensis)!

    Skull of a Bengal monitor, Varanus bengalensis LDUCZ-X189

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    Specimen of the Week 346: The Young Rattlesnake

    By Christopher J Wearden, on 8 June 2018

    Good afternoon readers. Today we are bringing you a specimen that is feared by humans and can grow up to eight feet long. This animal is known for the distinctive sound it makes to when trying to deter predators or intimidate prey. It is long, scaly and has a bit of bite, this week’s Specimen of the Week is… (more…)

    Specimen of the Week 345: The Pikermi Casts

    By Tannis Davidson, on 1 June 2018

    LDUCZ-Z3259 Amphimachariodus giganteus

    LDUCZ-Z3259 Amphimachariodus giganteus

    Back in January, this blog featured four specimens nicknamed ‘the fancy casts’ which were chosen by UCL Museum Studies students as a research project for their Collections Curatorship course. The casts are of extinct species of horse and sabre-toothed cat which lived in the Miocene – Pliocene epochs around 23-3 million years ago. These four casts are unique in the Grant Museum because they are beautifully detailed, hand-painted and mounted upon bespoke ceramic bases.

    I’m pleased to report that the students discovered that the fancy casts are indeed rather special. Thanks to the brilliant efforts of Kayleigh Anstiss, Anna Fowler, Pamela Maldonado Rivera, Rachael Rogers and Hollie Withers, these casts are no longer such a mystery. Here they are again, this week’s newly titled Specimens of the Week are… (more…)