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  • Underwhelming Fossil Fish of the Month: March 2014

    By Mark Carnall, on 31 March 2014

    I’ve sectioned the otoliths of 2014 and determined that it is March and there’s just enough time for this month’s underwhelming fossil fish of the month.

    For those of you new to the series, all of which can be found in this link, here’s how I’d introduce the TV series, walking slowly through a museum storeroom, gesticulating wildly and oddly emphasizing words (in caps below) in the way that you only see in science documentaries.

    “Join me, MarK CArnall as I eXplore the aMazing WOrld of fossil fish. IN this SERIES we look at the AMAZING, comPLEX worLd of the unsung, unINspiring fossil fIsh that FILL the storeROOMs of the WORLD’s aMazing museums. We’ll look at the WEIrd, the WONderful and the aMazing fossil fish to dRive up the wOrld’s gLObal fishteracy. ONE fossil fish at a time.”


    I’ve got a real doozy of a fish for you this month. Prepare to be disappointed. Steel yourself for disdain. Turn that apathy up to 11. (more…)

    Underwhelming fossil fish of the month: February 2014

    By Mark Carnall, on 28 February 2014

    It’s often said that seasons come and seasons go but fossil fish are forever*. However, sadly this isn’t as robust as it is commonly believed. Fossil fish, like Hollywood stars and small children need attention and that’s what this entire series is about, turning the spotlight on the nearly-made-its, the also-rans and the generally undistinctive. The mediocre, normal shaped and average sized. The fossil fish consigned to museum drawers and storerooms, their ‘heyday’ 100-odd years ago, consisting of a dry description in an obscure journal by a palaeontologist. Shed no tears for them for they are but rock. They shall go on to the end. You can find them in France, you can find them under the seas and oceans. You can find them on the beaches, on the landing grounds, in the fields and in the streets,  in the hills; they shall never surrender. Here is yet another, especially underwhelming fossil fish of the month.

    Underwhelming fossil fish of the month: January 2014

    By Mark Carnall, on 30 January 2014

    It’s the first underwhelming fossil fish of the month for 2014 and in order to usher in the new year I’ve picked a particularly unspecial fossil fish for your eyes only. If you want to be underwhelmed even more then all the UFFoTM posts can be found under this handy tag. First up though, what does this look like to you?


    A pretty butterfly?

    Wow. Well from your response I can tell you have some serious psychological issues that need dealing with. The above image isn’t actually a fossilised Rorschach inkblot (named after the comic book character with the same name in the Watchmen). The keen eyed amongst you will have spotted that it’s actually this month’s fossil fish of the ahem month albeit digitally tweaked. You know you’re in for a treat when the most interesting aspect of it is that it resembles an amorphous splodge and tenuously at that. Read on in the vain hope that it gets better than this. (more…)

    The Top Ten Grant Museum Blogs of 2013

    By Jack Ashby, on 9 January 2014

    Happy New Year!
    As well as looking forward to the exciting things we hope to do in the coming year, it is customary to look back at the past one. On Twitter over the past week I’ve been tweeting the best of 2013′s blog – the Top Ten most viewed Grant Museum posts of last year.

    I’ve announced those ranking at 10 to 2 in the charts, and exclusively revealing here that the most popular post of 2013 is…

    Will a museum studies degree help you get a job in a museum?

    Perhaps suggesting that there are many people interested in the incredibly amazing careers in museums, yet are aware of the fact that finding a way in is easier said than done.

    The Top Ten in full: (more…)

    Underwhelming Fossil Fish of the Month: December 2013

    By Mark Carnall, on 19 December 2013

    Twas the night before ChristmasUnderwhelming Christmas of the year

    When all through the Grant Museum

    Not a creature was stirring

    Because it was a zoology museum and all the animals had stirred their last a long time ago

    Doubly so for fossil fish.

    It has long been assumed that Christmas is a very mammalian celebration. 2013 years ago Santa invented Coca-Cola and ever since humans have been celebrating by writing each other cards, giving each other presents and eating too many Twiglets. However, there’s compelling evidence that Christmas has its origins deep in the geological past. (Christmas) puddingstones date back to the Pleistocene. Christmas Island is over 100 million years old. Christmas trees evolved back in the Carboniferous. Christmas songs celebrate Rocking around the Christmas Tree. Surely it’s no coincidence that many fossil fish are composed of rock today. It’s entirely possible (plausible is a stretch) that the-yet-unfossilised fossil fish celebrated Christmas in Devonian seas and possibly even further back.

    However, the origins of Christmas in the fossil record have been poorly studied. More research is needed to confirm a non-mammalian origin of Christmas hypothesis. Until then, let’s take a cold hard festive stare at yet another Underwhelming Fossil Fish from the Grant Museum’s collections. This month I’ve got nothing particularly special lined up for you. (more…)

    Underwhelming Fossil Fish of the Month: November 2013

    By Mark Carnall, on 22 November 2013

    How are the cockles of your heart? In need of some warmth? Here’s the latest Underwhelming Fossil Fish of the Month (all the others are here). Eagle-ray eyed readers won’t be able to read this with both eyes because eagle-rays have monocular vision. Eagle eyed readers will have no doubt spotted a slight change. As this is the 13th month of uninspiring amorphous rocks resembling, organisms which were formerly fish, I’ve added a date after the blog title because Akheilos forbid you get confused between ‘seasons’ denying yourself the available UFFotM goodness.

    To kick off season 2, I’ve prepared nothing special. Fossil fish don’t discriminate between or celebrate such arbitrary occasions, it is in their honour that we maintain that composure. Prepare to lose five minutes of your life. No returns or resales. (more…)

    Underwhelming Fossil Fish of The Month: October

    By Mark Carnall, on 29 October 2013

    12 MONTH UNDERWHELMING FOSSIL FISH OF THE MONTH BLOWOUT! We made it! Back in November last year we launched this series with the lofty ambition of increasing the global fossil fishteracy one fossil fish at a time. Shirley, it’s no coincidence that since this series started fossil fish have been making the news headlines for all the wrong reasons in the case of Megalodongate, as nobody is calling it, and for all the right reasons with Entelognathus primordialis maybe, possibly, unlocking the origins of jaws (not Jaws) as we know and love them today.  We’re confident in claiming that this series alone propelled fossil fish stories into the limelight, leaping from life to life, striving to put right what once went wrong, and hoping each time that his next leap will be the leap home. There’s no other explanation.

    There’s no cause for complacency though. This post marks the twelfth entry in the series, a calendar’s worth, but there’s a while to go until we reach enough for a Top Trumps deck or come anywhere close to unearthing the full mediocrity of the drawers and drawers worth of Underwhelming Fossil Fish we have here at the Grant Museum. So it’s with no aplomb we soldier on with October’s particularly uninspiring fossil fish.


    Underwhelming Fossil Fish of the Month: September

    By Mark Carnall, on 26 September 2013

    It’s time for Underwhelming Fossil Fish of the Month again, our monthly foray into the unspectacular, underwhelming (except for the time we sold out) and otherwise uncelebrated world of long deceased fossil fish. Excitingly, this is the eleventh installation in this series (the previous UFFoTM can all be found here), this is particularly insignificant as eleven isn’t a particularly interesting or noteworthy number especially when we compare it to the somewhat overused ten and the dirty dozen that is twelve.

    In order to commemorate the eleventh entry in this series I’m going to let you in on some behind-the-scenes stuff I was waiting to commit to the special commentary for the straight-to-bargain-bins DVD release Underwhelming Fossil Fish of the Month: The Official Movie (working title), however, due to Hollywood outright rejecting the idea for the film I thought I’d present it here.


    A Very Important Underwhelming Fossil Fish of the Month: August

    By Mark Carnall, on 22 August 2013

    This is the tenth in the Underwhelming Fossil Fish of the Month series, you can find all of the previous UFFotM posts here. In order to celebrate this minor milestone (the last time you’ll be able to count the total number underwhelming fossil fish of the months on two hands without carrying one over & only two UFFotM away from a calendar’s worth) we’ve got a VIUFFotM for you. One of a kind. They say that all underwhelming fossil fish are born equal. But we all know that some underwhelming fossil fish are more equal than others.  This month’s is one of those.


    Underwhelming Fossil Fish of the Month: July

    By Mark Carnall, on 30 July 2013

    It’s very trendy  to point out that with the combination of Google, Wikipedia and smart phones, we now have more information at our fingertips than any of the great thinkers, including Charles Darwin, ever had access to. Although this may be technically true, a lot of that information we can access is videos of cats, this tome on Luke Skywalker’s wife and several terabytes of saucy Harry Potter fan fiction (we don’t dare link to). In fact it’s probably a good job that Darwin didn’t have such distractions in the palm of his hand as we may have never ended up with On the Origin of Species because he filled his days watching videos of Japanese men synchronised walking.

    However, for the fossil fish that feature in this series, Underwhelming Fossil Fish of the Month, it’s safe to say that Darwin had access to almost as much information about these uninspiring, unimportant and all around underwhelming fossils as we have today and July’s fossil fish is no exception.