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  • Specimen of the week 339: The St Kilda mice

    By Hannah Cornish, on 20 April 2018

    Our specimens this week might be small, but they are giants of their species because of the peculiar effects of living on an island. They are…

    St Kilda mice LDUCZ-Z1528

    St Kilda mice LDUCZ-Z1528

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    Specimen of the Week 338: a tour of the Platypus Skeleton

    By Jack Ashby, on 13 April 2018

    Anyone who tells you that the platypus isn’t the best animal in the world is a liar. This is my conclusion after nearly fourteen years working in the museum that [probably] has more platypuses on display than any museum in the world*. My first ever Grant Museum Specimen of the Week was a taxidermy platypus, and here I return to this exceptional beast to explore the platypus stripped bare.

    A platypus skeleton. LDUCZ-Z26

    A platypus skeleton. LDUCZ-Z26

    The beauty of skeletons is that every lump and bump tells a story. Bone is shaped by the muscles, tendons and ligaments that pull on it, so we can trace the lives of animals as well as their evolutionary histories by asking why skeletons are shaped the way they are.

    Allow me to take you on a tour of… Read the rest of this entry »

    Specimen of the Week 337: The Mussett Collection

    By Nadine Gabriel, on 6 April 2018

    To celebrate 100 years since some women were first given the right to vote in the UK, UCL are running a number of events and exhibitions. Here at the Grant Museum, our Specimen of the Week blogs have focused on women in natural history.

    The Grant Museum is home to many sub-collections which were either donated by other museums and collections or by previous curators such as Ray Lankester, D. M. S. Watson and James Peter Hill [1]. This Specimen of the Week is about the Mussett Collection, which was collected and donated by Dr. Frances Mussett, a palaeontologist and researcher at UCL. Read the rest of this entry »

    Specimen of the Week 336: The Common Spotted Cuscus Skeleton

    By Christopher J Wearden, on 30 March 2018

    Good afternoon to all Specimen of the Week lovers. Before I get started with my inaugural blog I’ll take this opportunity to introduce myself. I’m Chris – museum enthusiast/cyclist/zoologist-in-training. I’m also the new Visitor Services Assistant at the Grant Museum. I’ve taken time over my first couple of weeks familiarising myself with the wonderful collections we have on display, and after careful consideration I’ve decided on a specimen that is very close to the heart of our museum manager. It’s the…

    Our common spotted cuscus skeleton. LDUCZ-Z75

    Our common spotted cuscus skeleton. LDUCZ-Z75

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    Underwhelming Fossil Fish of the Month March 2018

    By Mark Carnall, on 27 March 2018

    Welcome to March’s underwhelming fossil fish of the month. For the blissfully ignorant amongst you, this series brings the worst and dullest fossil fish from the Grant Museum of Zoology’s collections for your viewing displeasure on a monthly basis. Natural history museums are full of this material, not every museum specimen can be the first, last, oldest, biggest or nicest smelling because life can’t always about the best. It’s important to take some time and some space to think about the mediocre. The run of the mill. The quotidian. The also ran. Sure, the sparkly stuff is what we put on display in museums but it’s really the middling masses that are key to understanding life.

    Not these fossil fish though. They’re ugly and useless. Or are they?
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    Specimen of the Week 335: The Chinstrap Penguin skull

    By Jack Ashby, on 23 March 2018

    This week’s Specimen of the Week is a guest edition by Front of House Volunteer and UCL Student of History and Philosophy of Science, Leah Christian.

    A couple of weeks ago we gave you a skull from the flamingo, a bird that prefers the warmer climes. Now, let’s look at a bird that would feel right at home in the United Kingdom this week…

     

    A chinstrap penguind skull. LDUCZ-Y1577

    A chinstrap penguind skull. LDUCZ-Y1577

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    Specimen of the Week 334: The Tapeworm (feat. the sheep brain)

    By Jack Ashby, on 16 March 2018

    This week’s Specimen of the Week is a guest edition by Front of House Volunteer and a UCL Masters student of Human Evolution and Behaviour, Adam Cogan.

    A sheep's brain disected to reveal a tapework cyst. LDUCZ-D60

    A sheep’s brain disected to reveal a large tapeworm cyst. LDUCZ-D60

    If by now 2018 is giving you a bit of a headache, then this week’s Specimen of the Week may make you feel a bit better! Today our guest (and host, I suppose) is… Read the rest of this entry »

    Specimen of the Week 333: The Coal Ball Slides

    By Tannis Davidson, on 9 March 2018

    D.M.S. Watson Coal ball slide

    D.M.S. Watson Coal ball slide

    In celebration of International Women’s Day and the 100 year anniversary of the first women having the right to vote in the UK, the Grant Museum is highlighting specimens in the collection related to women in natural history as well as showcasing female specimens and exploring topics such as gender in zoology.

    As part of UCL vote 100, this week’s Specimen of the Week blog focuses UCL alumna Marie Stopes – campaigner of women’s rights and pioneer of family planning. She is widely known for her controversial and influential book Married Love (1918) – a sex manual for women which popularised the taboo subject of birth control and for establishing (with her second husband Humphrey Verdon Roe) Britain’s first birth control clinic in 1921.

    Stopes’ first passion, however, was science and the Grant Museum is home to a group of specimens associated with Marie Stopes’ significant palaeobotany career… Read the rest of this entry »

    Doris Mackinnon: Investigating the microscopic

    By Hannah Cornish, on 8 March 2018

    Today is International Women’s Day, this year it is 100 years since the first group of women got the right to vote in the UK, and UCL is celebrating with a programme of events and exhibitions called Vote 100. What better time to share a story from the Grant Museum about one of the pioneering female academics who worked at UCL. I took this opportunity to investigate the woman behind one part of our collection. High on the balcony in the Grant Museum are a pair of ever so slightly dusty microscope slide cabinets containing around 400 slides. Each cabinet bears a little brass plaque that reads –

    The Doris Livingston Mackinnon Collection of Protozoa

    University College London

    Who was Doris Mackinnon, and why is her collection here? Protozoa are not animals, so they are an unusual inclusion in a zoology museum. It was all a bit of a mystery until I started digging into it, here’s what I found out.

    Photograph of Doris Mackinnon in her lab © University of Dundee Archive Services

    Photograph of Doris Mackinnon in her lab © University of Dundee Archive Services

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    Specimen of the Week 332: African Jacana

    By Dean W Veall, on 2 March 2018

    Dear Specimen of the Week readers, Dean Veall here in what is my LAST EVER Specimen of the Week post. If I were to choose my favourite it would definitely be SOTW 199: Jar of… But, enough of the nostalgia. I am picking up the baton from Jack and Hannah and have chosen a specimen from our collection that explore stories of women in natural history, amazing female natural history  and the language of gender in zoology to help mark International Women’s Day on Thursday 8 March. This week I’ve chosen…

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