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A Hands On History of Hands at the Grant Museum

James M Heather9 February 2012

The UCL Grant Museum of Zoology is currently running its ‘Humanimals’ series, where it explores the relationships between ourselves and other animals.

Last week (2 February), I went along for A Hands On History of Hands; a whistlestop tour of the evolution of hands and forelimbs through the ages, stopping to look at some of the interesting examples along the way.

The guides on our tour were zoologist Jack Ashby and palaeontologist Mark Carnall, with a little help from Stan, the resident (replica) skeleton.

The Grant Museum was founded as a teaching collection, and it seems that the current crop of curators are keen to continue this legacy. This is the second night like this that they have run, and for a modern museum it seems to a pretty radical idea; not only can enthusiasts visit and explore the museum after hours, but we are actually given the chance to interact with some of the exhibits.

The evening consisted of several tables of guests listening to the hosts talk us through various elements of hand history, giving each table actual specimens as examples to illustrate their points. This was a thorough talk; there were hand outs and everything.

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How to get a head. Or, what your skull is saying about you.

Katherine Aitchison30 November 2011

Can you read a skull? Did you know that the human is actually a fish? Can you tell your synapsids from your diapsids? Well read on to learn all the skull can tell us about life and evolution.

The UCL Grant Museum of Zoology has been a teaching collection for more than two decades, but last night it opened its collection for a public workshop for the first time, and I was one of the lucky souls who bagged a ticket and went along looking forward to getting my hands on some bones.

To begin, we took a seat at tables displaying a range of notably different skulls. We were then asked to take a look at the specimens in front of us and identify a number of key features that would help tell us more about what animal the skull had come from.

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