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    Specimen of the Week 351: The carrion crow

    By Nadine Gabriel, on 13 July 2018

    Hello everyone! I’m very sad to say that this is my last Specimen of the Week post because my internship finishes at the end of July. My final specimen is a carrion crow, and it was collected from a road on the Isle of Anglesey, Wales in 1993, and then donated to us in 2008 by the Museum of London. The purpose of the donation was “to fill a gap in the bird teaching material”. Read on to find out more about this magnificent bird…

    Taxidermy carrion crow, Corvus corone LDUCZ-Y1533


    Specimen of the Week 350: The Plastic Fantastics

    By Tannis Davidson, on 6 July 2018

    Four fantastic plastic moulds Australosomus merlei: Clockwise from top left: LDUCZ-V1685, LDUCZ-V1696, LDUCZ-1697, LDUCZ-V1698

    Four moulds of Australosomus merlei: Clockwise from top left: LDUCZ-V1685, LDUCZ-V1696, LDUCZ-1697, LDUCZ-V1698

    This week’s Specimen of the Week is a celebration of diversity, fashion and fabulousness. It pays tribute to all the specimens who have suffered discrimination or denied equal status for not being considered ‘real’ specimens. Yes, I’m referring to the casts and particularly the moulds in natural history collections which are too seldom given pride of place on museum display shelves despite contributing an incalculable value in the transmission of scientific ideas and knowledge.

    Casts in natural history museums are often considered second-class museum specimens; their primary function to exemplify the original specimen for comparative purposes. The moulds which produce the casts are arguably even lower down the ladder of regard – transitional objects used in the creation of offspring specimens (casts) and rarely displayed or considered accessionable objects in their own right.

    Apart from their value as conduits of reproduction, moulds are also a resource illustrating both innovation in technique and the fashions of their time. Without further ado, this week’s Specimen of the Week salutes… (more…)

    Specimen of the week 349: The nine-banded armadillo

    By Christopher J Wearden, on 29 June 2018

    Happy Friday to all Specimen of the Week readers. After a recent road trip across the southern United States, I’m bringing you a curious creature that can be found all the way from Texas to Tennessee. They are known for their distinctive shape and defensive abilities, but as we’ll see, there is more than just the shell to admire about these animals. It’s our very own…

    Nine-banded armadillo, Dasypus novemcinctus LDUCZ-Z2791


    Specimen of the Week 348: The salp

    By Hannah Cornish, on 22 June 2018

    Specimen of the Week this week was collected from the seas off Naples where it jetted around the Mediterranean breaking records and enjoying a remarkably complicated love life. Specimen of the Week is….


    LDUCZ-T23 the salp Salpa maxima

    LDUCZ-T23 the salp Salpa maxima


    Specimen of the Week 347: The Bengal monitor skull

    By Nadine Gabriel, on 15 June 2018

    This specimen of the week is a lizard found throughout Asia. They have a colourful youth, are shy around humans and have been known to shelter in abandoned termite mounds. Say hello to the Bengal monitor (Varanus bengalensis)!

    Skull of a Bengal monitor, Varanus bengalensis LDUCZ-X189


    Specimen of the Week 346: The Young Rattlesnake

    By Christopher J Wearden, on 8 June 2018

    Good afternoon readers. Today we are bringing you a specimen that is feared by humans and can grow up to eight feet long. This animal is known for the distinctive sound it makes to when trying to deter predators or intimidate prey. It is long, scaly and has a bit of bite, this week’s Specimen of the Week is… (more…)

    Specimen of the Week 345: The Pikermi Casts

    By Tannis Davidson, on 1 June 2018

    LDUCZ-Z3259 Amphimachariodus giganteus

    LDUCZ-Z3259 Amphimachariodus giganteus

    Back in January, this blog featured four specimens nicknamed ‘the fancy casts’ which were chosen by UCL Museum Studies students as a research project for their Collections Curatorship course. The casts are of extinct species of horse and sabre-toothed cat which lived in the Miocene – Pliocene epochs around 23-3 million years ago. These four casts are unique in the Grant Museum because they are beautifully detailed, hand-painted and mounted upon bespoke ceramic bases.

    I’m pleased to report that the students discovered that the fancy casts are indeed rather special. Thanks to the brilliant efforts of Kayleigh Anstiss, Anna Fowler, Pamela Maldonado Rivera, Rachael Rogers and Hollie Withers, these casts are no longer such a mystery. Here they are again, this week’s newly titled Specimens of the Week are… (more…)

    Specimen of the Week 344: The mata mata skeleton

    By Hannah Cornish, on 25 May 2018

    This week we are meeting one of the weirder-looking species at the Grant Museum, and that’s really saying something. In life it had a nose like a snorkel, a shell like tree bark and a neck longer than its body. Specimen of the week is…

    Mata mata skeleton Chelus fimbriata LDUCZ X186

    Mata mata skeleton Chelus fimbriata LDUCZ-X187


    **The mata mata skeleton**


    UCL wins international awards for innovative work in museums

    By Anna E Cornelius, on 18 May 2018

    Colour photo of six people standing in a row in front of a glittery wall. The woman in the middle is holding a pink award.

    UCL Museums and Collections have won two Museums + Heritage Awards at a glittering ceremony in central London. Regarded as the Oscars of the museums and heritage industry, the awards recognise UCL’s collaborative work to improve the wellbeing of museum visitors and rebuild a giant-size whale skeleton.


    Specimen of the Week 343: The brain coral

    By Nadine Gabriel, on 18 May 2018

    Jack Ashby, our former museum manager who left a few days ago to work at the Cambridge Zoology Museum, often talks about how natural history museums are biased towards certain animals. As I looked through the list of animals featured in our Specimen of the Week blog, I noticed that corals have only featured once in the past six and a half years! So today I would like to dedicate this blog post to Jack and make sure corals get the representation they deserve!

    Dry specimen of a brain coral, Diploria labyrinthiformis LDUCZ-C1439