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  • Archive for November, 2012

    Specimen of the Week: Week Fifty-Six

    By Emma-Louise Nicholls, on 5 November 2012

    Scary MonkeyOur story begins in 1605. Put out by the lack of royal acceptance of their religion, 13 Catholic men decided the best way to get their voice heard, was to blow up the Houses of Parliament. The men planted 36 barrels of gun powder in a cellar just below the House of Lords. Sadly for them, though happily for historic architecture, they were betrayed. Some of the band of 13 realised that their shenanigans would more than likely end with the ‘accidental’ killing of innocents, including a couple of chums and a few fellow Catholics. With Jiminy Cricket whispering in their ears, the would-be terrorists revealed the plot in letters to specific members of parliament, telling them to ‘be out for the day’ on the 5th November. The chain of warning spread like gossip until the King received a memo, resulting in a set of guards being sent to investigate. One Guy Fawkes was caught red-handed in the cellar with the barrels of powder. Whoops. Bonfire night became a custom in which bonfires are set alight as a mark of defiance against terrorists and a celebration of Fawkes’ execution. (Though I have read that perhaps these last few years more people will be ‘honoring his attempt to do away with the government’. Decide for yourself). Either way, bonfires and fireworks are a tradition going back over 400 years and a lovely one at that. In honour of this day, this week’s Specimen of the Week is… (more…)

    Remember remember, the marine colonial tunicate Pyrosoma

    By Simon J Jackson, on 5 November 2012

    Firework night is upon us again and, as a multitude of rockets explode into a symphony of bangs, whistles and screams and shower cascades of light across the night sky, I thought it would be appropriate to highlight a particular ‘fire-body’ in our collection. (more…)

    Underwhelming Fossil Fish of The Month: November

    By Mark Carnall, on 1 November 2012

    NEW FEATURE ALERT! NEW FEATURE ALERT! Yes it’s the long awaited Underwhelming Fossil Fish of The Month (UFFoTM) brough to you by the Grant Museum of Zoology and Comparative Anatomy (GMoZaCA) at UCL (UCL).

    There are a lot of animals, 1.5-30 million species to be precise* but after learning about 100 or so different animals from books we are read as children, visits to the zoo and from television our otherwise powerful minds start to lose interest. There are a lot of animals and for most people it really isn’t worth knowing more than 100 different types or being able to recognise more than the animals we see in zoos, on safari and on the front of cereal boxes. As we saw with worms the word “worms” is useful in day to day life even if it does describe thousands of species of very distantly related groups of animals. The same is true of terms like frog, butterfly, dog, deer, bat, sea urchin and fish which brings me on to why we’ll be focusing on some our fossil fish specimens in UFFoTM. (more…)