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  • Specimen of the Week 283: The Eastern Quoll

    By Jack Ashby, on 17 March 2017

    Eastern quoll. LDUCZ-Z2307

    Eastern quoll. LDUCZ-Z2307

    Mongooses, ferrets, shrews, meerkats, otters, weasels and cats: These are animals that most people will be familiar with.

    Planigales, ningauis, kalutas, dunnarts, mulgaras and quolls: Not so much.

    Despite all being small mammals, strangely named, absurdly cute (the second set even more so than the first), objectively interesting in many ecological, behavioural and evolutionary ways, there seems to be a difference in the level of attention between these groups of animal. The latter are all Australian marsupials, and for undoubtedly complicated political, colonial and egotistical reasons embedded in the western psyche, they don’t get their fair share of the limelight*. This week’s Specimen of the Week is a tiny step in addressing that, with…

     

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    Specimen of the Week 282: Badger Skeleton

    By Dean W Veall, on 10 March 2017

    Eurasian badger (Meles meles) skeleton LDUCZ Z372

    Eurasian badger (Meles meles) skeleton LDUCZ Z372

    Hello Specimen of the Week fans, Dean Veall here. Belonging to the mammal family called mustelids, which includes polecats, otters and wolverines, this week’s Specimen of the Week this week is the…

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    Specimen of the Week 281: The Ancient Whale Skull

    By Rowan J J Tinker, on 3 March 2017

    The evolution of whales is truly a strange story, and relatively little was known about their ancestry until the early 1990s when palaeontologists unearthed a series of fossils from the Eocene of India and Pakistan that shed light on the transition of the group from water to land.

    Model of Protocetus atavus skull. Ventral side. LDUCZ-Z3265

    Model of Protocetus atavus skull. Ventral side. LDUCZ-Z3265

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    Splicing Time. Rome and the Roman Campagna at UCL Art Museum

    By Martine Rouleau, on 2 March 2017

    Being invited to take up the role of artist in residence at UCL Museum was an unexpected outcome of Splicing Time, Rome and the Roman Campagna, my 2016-17 Leverhulme Fellowship.

    Liz Rideal

    Liz Rideal, photo: Mike Dye

    One theme was to study Claude Lorraine’s Liber Veritatis drawings, in the British Museum’s collection and attempt to plot their contemporary locations, to study his concept of real, imagined and invented landscape and relate this imagery to my own work in the Roman Campagna today. However, it occurred to me that UCL Art Museum might also be a fruitful venue for my quest and I decided to approach curator Andrea Fredericksen to investigate this further. Coincidentally the museum’s upcoming Legacy exhibition was to concentrate on Richard Cooper Jnr, eighteenth century Grand Tour printmaker, an artist who followed the footsteps of Claude Lorraine and who was thus perfectly suited to my own theme. So, in this synchronous and surprising manner I started to consider Cooper Jnr’s work.

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    Underwhelming Fossil Fish of the Month February 2017

    By Mark Carnall, on 1 March 2017

    Pinch, punch first (and only) of the underwhelming fossil fish of the month! For those who have made good life choices, until now, underwhelming fossil fish of the month is a monthly rummage through the drawers of the Grant Museum of Zoology, taking a look at life through the lens of an underwhelming fossil fish. Most you’ll have never heard of. Even more of them you wish you hadn’t. But someone, somewhere, sometime thought it would be important to collect, label and archive these underwhelming fossils for perpetuity.

    This series questions if that was a useful thing to do. It also answers that: it probably wasn’t.

    This month, we’ve got a particularly deceptive underwhelming fossil fish of the month for in all images of it, it looks much like an A-Level art student’s still life painting. We’ve been photographing it from almost every angle and the result is always the same. But don’t just take my word for it, famine your eyes on this… Read the rest of this entry »

    Specimen of the Week 280: Preserved Gharial

    By Tannis Davidson, on 24 February 2017

    Over the past year, UCL Culture’s conservation team has been undertaking work on a project to conserve many of the Grant Museum’s specimens which are preserved in fluid (read more about ‘Project Pickle’ here). During the ongoing work, specimens have been re-hydrated, remounted, rehoused and re-identified.

    Along the way there have also been some new discoveries of specimens that we didn’t know were in the collection. Some of the jars were full of fluid so discoloured that it was impossible to see the animal inside and it was only when the specimen was taken out that the identification could be made. One jar had an astounding 11 different animals inside including this week’s Specimen of the Week…

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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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    Museums and Virtual Reality: VR in the Grant Museum

    By Jack Ashby, on 15 February 2017

    Guest post

    VR:Cell being tested in the Grant Museum

    VR:Cell being tested in the Grant Museum

    For those of us who had the opportunity to work with Virtual and Augmented Reality (VR and AR), 2016 was a most exciting year. Notably, a range of new headsets finally reached consumer market and a number of interesting, new applications looked poised to mainstream these technologies. We even saw the world’s first revolutionary AR game in the form of Pokémon Go entering many locations worldwide and arriving to this very place, the Grant Museum of Zoology. It is also becoming apparent that VR and AR are not just opening new opportunities for how we entertain ourselves, but also how we connect, share, and learn, by transforming how we look at content.

    VR and AR are emerging as a valuable medium in learning and public engagement

    A number of articles, studies and conference presentations have already described the great success of 3D-immersion brought about by VR and AR technologies in hundreds of classrooms in educationally progressive schools and learning labs. Considering that today’s museums are interactive learning environments that encourage engaging with material, VR and AR should be ideally placed to bring museum objects to life and create more dynamic, interesting exhibits and displays. Read the rest of this entry »

    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… Read the rest of this entry »

    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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