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  • Archive for the 'Grant Museum of Zoology' Category

    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…


    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


    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. (more…)

    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… (more…)

    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….. 


    The Most Amazing Fossil Fish Ever Discovered*

    By Mark Carnall, on 31 January 2017

    Welcome to the most amazing fossil fish ever discovered of the month. For those of you who don’t know it, which is nobody because everyone reads this blog, MAFFED is a monthly blog about everyone’s favourite fossil fish. We only focus on the best fossil fish here, which everyone is always talking about. It’s kind of a big thing if you’ve never read it. This series is most definitely nothing to do with underwhelming fossil fish of the month which nobody reads anyway**. This month we’ve got the best fossil fish ever discovered. I know, I know I say that every month but this time it is really true.

    I hope you’re strapped into your seat because this is going to be one hell of a journey! You won’t need to read ANYTHING ELSE EVER AGAIN. (more…)

    Specimen of the Week 276: The Tarsier

    By Rowan J J Tinker, on 27 January 2017

    In a way the shelves are an encased tomb, shut and sealed away until periodically exhumed of their contents. Eddies scatter of rime-like dust now stirred as a looming hand reaches silently into the dark. Once sleeping, now disturbed, a lingering spectre awakens and begins its reanimated shamblings anew.

    We have a spirit in our midst. Not just the liquid kind either, or even a trick of the light for that matter, but a pure dead spectre in the flesh…

    LDUCZ-Z1542. Tarsius sp.

    Preserved tarsier (Tarsius sp.) at the Grant Museum of Zoology. LDUCZ-Z1542


    Colour Vision Experiments in the Grant Museum of Zoology

    By Dean W Veall, on 26 January 2017


    A visitor using taking part in a lighting experiment

    A visitor using taking part in a lighting experiment

    Lighting in museums is a curious thing. It can make or break an exhibition. It can make a dismal space beautiful, or vice versa. At the same time, subtle changes in lighting can have a meaningful effect on the amount of time that we’re able to display objects before they deteriorate past the point of no return. An example of one such subtle change might be the colour of the light. A barely noticeable change in colour could have a drastic effect on the damaging power of the light depending on the technology being used. (more…)

    Specimen of the Week 275: Mystery wax models

    By Tannis Davidson, on 20 January 2017

    In a radical departure from tradition, this week’s blog will focus on what we don’t know about a specimen, rather than what we do know. The reason being is that the specimen in question is rather mysterious.  All of the usual pieces of information which can help identify a specimen are lacking  – no number, no entry in the accession records, no associated documentation and no taxonomic information.

    A perfect candidate for some major research which is why it was ‘auctioned’ as a mystery object to this year’s students taking part in the Collection Curatorship class as part of their MA in Museum Studies at UCL.  The aim of this course is to introduce students to the core skills of a curator : to understand objects and how to research them.  Luckily for us, the ‘natural history’ group chose this specimen and are about to flex their collective research muscles in order to help identify this specimen…

    Grant Museum of Zoology Mystery wax models

    Grant Museum of Zoology Mystery wax models


    Specimen of the week 274: the Greenland shark gut

    By Will J Richard, on 13 January 2017

    Hello computer-folks. Will Richard here, blogging again. And this time I’ve chosen a pretty amazing fish… or at least a bit of it.

    Greenland shark

    Greenland shark. Image by NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program; in the public domain.