When in Africa a couple of years ago, I looked high and low for these gorgeous animals. I mean EVERYwhere. When we finally caught up with a clan (clue), another tourist in our jeep attempted to ruin the moment by harping on about how disgusting they were. Sadly, for an unfathomable reason, this animal does appear to generally induce an upturned nose amongst the general public. Which is so UNFAIR!! This animal is amazing and I am going to set the record straight on why. This week’s specimen of the week is… (more…)
I am currently in Egypt trying really hard, though probably failing, to see an Egyptian vulture. Why? Look at this, you’ve got to love this face. It’s yellow for starters, and has a mega cool feather hair-do for seconds. Brilliant. I decided of course to write this week’s blog on an Egyptian specimen but it seems we are somewhat sadly lacking in that area so my specimen is a tenuous link at best. In the meantime, this week’s specimen is of a species that was found in Egypt, though is now regionally extinct in northern Africa. It was also found in Europe once upon a time, which may surprise you. This week’s specimen of the week is… (more…)
A week ago, the Grant Museum had a special family activities day called ‘Humanimals’, part of our exciting, and ongoing, Humanimals season which is investigating the influence that humans and animals have on each other. Our activities gave our visitors hands-on fun with furry, scaly, and boney specimens. One of the activities was a table covered in a jumble of bones from a real skeleton not too dissimilar to ours. The cunning idea behind the slyly educational activity was for our visitors to re-build the skeleton. We had our replica human skeleton standing next to the table for anatomical inspiration. It was so popular that it inspired this week’s specimen. The specimen of the week therefore is: (more…)
So far in the specimen of the week, we have looked at a wide range of animals from across the zoological spectrum. We have seen invertebrates that look like flowers, fish that look like fisherman, monkeys that look like spiders. What we have, however, is a lack of feathered fun. Not one to discriminate or (purposefully) disappoint, this week’s specimen of the week is therefore one of our coolest (there’s a clue) feathery friends: (more…)
We have discovered a wide range of animal groups thus far in our specimen of the week journey. Now I feel it is time for something big, furry and ferocious. The thing I like the most about these animals is that whilst they are clever, speedy, voracious, and formidable, they tend to prefer to just turn up and throw their weight around in order to get what they want. It’s not that they don’t have the skills, they just prefer not to use them. The specimen of the week this week is: (more…)
WELCOME TO 2012! Happy New Year to one and all from everyone here at the Grant Museum. We are going to kick the year off with a request from one of our readers. This week’s specimen of the week, the first for the new year, is a mammal but it has large scales. This week’s specimen of the week is… (more…)
Today is world rhino day everyone- wahooooo!!!! What does that mean?! It’s a day dedicated to celebrating our five species of rhinoceros! There are two species in Africa; the white rhino and the black rhino (though both confusingly only come in grey) and three in Asia; the Sumatran rhino (from Sumatra), the Javan rhino (from Java) and the Indian one horned rhino (from Brazil.) Just kidding. All rhinos are uber cool, though my favourite is the Sumatran rhino. It is the smallest of the five but it sports an awesome hairy coat. Not like a lion, or a wolf, more like a middle aged man who’s got a one way ticket to bald-land. The hair is, shall we say, thinned out, but they are definitely significantly hairier than their other rhino friends and, with their massively tufty ears, are subsequently ridiculously cute! (more…)
Let’s call a spade a spade. If you look at a rhino I mean *really* look at it, go on don’t be shy there’s one right there, it’s a weird looking beast. Its great big head has tiny little eyes and its massive bulk makes it a formidable animal. The most rhino-y feature is of course the horn. A lot of animals have tusks, antlers, or maybe even horns, but no other species stumbling through evolution on a cold Pliocene day thought “I know, I’ll take this horn of mine and pop it onto my nose, hah haaah, that’ll impress the ladies”. No, they are unique. The rhino is a truly remarkable and remarkable looking animal.
So this horn, what’s it all about? Rhino horn is made of keratin. What’s that you say? Look down at the tips of your fingers (or toes if you’d prefer) and (hopefully) you will be looking at some keratin. Some of you may need to remove nail varnish before you can give your keratin a really good inspection. Yes rhino horn is made of the same stuff as finger nails. (more…)
I have just installed my very first exhibition at the Grant Museum (at any museum actually!) and I am very excited about it! We have a set of pigeon holes in the entrance. On an average day, we use them for the highly sensible and well thought out idea of collaborating with UCL staff and students to display exhibitions of their most recent accomplishments. However, outside of term time- we can freestyle!
Previously, we have installed an A – Z of animals to match the alphabet on the pigeon holes; ‘aardvark, brittlestar, cobra, dragonfly’… etc. Rather than repeat this, I decided to stick my oar in and ask to do a brand spanking new exhibition. I have dreams of researching and designing temporary exhibitions for natural history museums, so this was the perfect opportunity to set out on that particular yellow brick road of museum career omniscience. (more…)