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UCL Culture Blog


News and musings from the UCL Culture team


Specimen of the Week 341: The Bark Scorpion

By Jack Ashby, on 4 May 2018

The bark scoprion, Centruroides edwardsii. LDUCZ-J46

The bark scoprion, Centruroides edwardsii. LDUCZ-J46

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.

As a native of Texas, this week’s Specimen of the Week is one that is always near and dear to my heart and occasionally in my shoes. And my sheets. And my hair. This week’s Specimen of the Week is… (more…)

Specimen of the Week 272: Jar of Horseshoe Crabs

By zcqsrti, on 30 December 2016

Doors open and in rushes a gust of cold air, shortly followed by a hurried flurry of wrapped up rosy faces. Here at the Grant Museum of Zoology, winter is a time of pressed noses on cabinet glass, and hungry eyes peering in at vivid sugary denizens of the cupboard. Come one, come all and experience Grant’s famous jelly moles, cotton candy wasp nests, liquorice joeys and of course the week’s special, all the way from America, the hard candy horseshoe crabs…

LDUCZ-J322 Horseshoe crabs

Jar of Horseshoe Crabs (Limulus polyphemus). LDUCZ-J322


Specimen of the Week 254 : Tailless Whip Scorpion

By zcbtgwg, on 26 August 2016

Hello again all! This Friday I present to you the spectacular and highly misunderstood tailless whip scorpion as my Specimen of the Week. I hope not only to describe some of its most interesting features, but also to slightly alleviate the concerns of any aspiring rain forest explorers out there who may be of an arachnophobic disposition: this one’s harmless. (more…)

Specimen of the Week 192: The Harvestman

By zcqsrti, on 15 June 2015

Dried harvestman LDUCZ-J416

Dried harvestman LDUCZ-J416

Case 11: the final resting place of those that once scuttled and dashed between the shadows. Many eagerly feature in our lives, brushing softly against the unaware’s skin, only to dart off as they are noticed, leaving a split second image of many a shambling leg to return as a parting gift at night when the lucidity of dreams kick in. Staring out from the dim stillness a dour creature resides, and an eternal watch it holds.

It was at first the near-symmetry of this specimen that drew me to it while bumbling around the Grant Museum; but after doing a little research, only then did it become apparent that this creature is far deserving of a week-long bask in the limelight. These critters are easily mistaken for spiders, both having eight spindly legs, but in fact they are far cuter, and much to the ire of arachnophobes. Many aspects of their biology and their cultural influence make them the spider’s rather well-appreciated cousin, and rightfully so.

So thus begins my job to convince you, dear literary companion, of this creature’s cause, lest it be cast off back to the tenebrous corners where the resting beasts of Case 11 do creep and surge. This week’s Specimen of the Week is…


Specimen of the Week: Week 131

By Emma-Louise Nicholls, on 14 April 2014

I have some extremely sad news to share with you. After three years of loving every minute (not as much sarcasm as you’d think) of working at my beloved Grant Museum, I am moving up the ladder and on to another museum. This of course is super exciting news for the most part, but it means that I will be leaving the Grant Museum at the end of April and thus, alas, will no longer be writing Specimen of the Week.

Do not worry my friends, for the legacy shall continue. From the 5th May onwards, SotW will be written by other members of Team Grant so you will still get your weekly fix of specimen and species information. But as for me, next week is my penultimate Specimen of the Week blog. So I shall try to make sure my last three (counting this one) are REALLY good (though, obviously, I have always tried to make them REALLY good). This week’s Specimen of the Week is… (more…)

Specimen of the Week: Week Ninety-Four

By Emma-Louise Nicholls, on 29 July 2013

Six blogs away from the big 1-0-0! In the run up to the 100th blog I am going to bring to you the top ten specimens at the Grant Museum, as voted for by…. me. I have employed strict criteria with which to segregate the top ten from the other 67,990 specimens that we have in our care…

1) It must not be on permanent display, giving you a little behind-the-scenes magic, if you will, as the specimen will then go on display for the week of which it has been named ‘Specimen’. Oh yes. That’s almost as good as our exhibition It Came From The Stores. Almost.

2) It must have at some point in the past made me say ‘woooo’ out loud (given my childlike disposition for expressing wonderment at the world at large, this is not necessarily a hard qualification for the specimen to achieve)

3) I must know (at least in a vague sort of a way) what species the specimen is, as SotW is researched and written within a strict one hour time frame.

With that in mind, at Number Seven, this week’s Specimen of the Week is… (more…)