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  • Specimen of the Week 305: The Horned Screamer

    By Nadine Gabriel, on 25 August 2017

    Hello everyone, it’s Nadine Gabriel. I’ve been a familiar face at the Grant Museum over the years and I have recently started an internship here – I’m really looking forward to another year at the museum! Over the past few months, I’ve been accessioning objects in the display cabinets high up in the museum and I have come across many interesting specimens. However, one mounted skeleton with a striking pose really stood out to me and it’s also the only specimen of its species in the Grant Museum. Let’s make some noise for the horned screamer!

    Articulated skeleton of a horned screamer (Anhima cornuta) LDUCZ-Y519

    Articulated skeleton of a horned screamer (Anhima cornuta) LDUCZ-Y519

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    Specimen of the Week 301: The formerly googly-eyed owl

    By Jack Ashby, on 21 July 2017

    The long-eared owl: BEFORE. LDUCZ-Y1604

    The long-eared owl: BEFORE. LDUCZ-Y1604

    In a move unprecedented in Specimen of the Week history, I have chosen to blogify the same specimen as I selected in my last Specimen of the Week. The reason is that in many ways it is not the same specimen as it was six weeks ago: it has undergone a profound transformation. We used to call this specimen “the googly-eyed owl”, due to its comedy wonky eyes, but it is googly-eyed no longer. This week’s Specimen of the Week is… (more…)

    Specimen of the Week 294: The Swift

    By Dean W Veall, on 2 June 2017

    Hello Specimen of the Week fans, Dean Veall here. This week I’ve chosen a specimen I have often got confused by at this time of the year.  This week’s Specimen of the Week is…

    Taxidermy swift LDUCZ-Y1552

    Taxidermy swift LDUCZ-Y1552

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    Specimen of the week 292: the horned lizard

    By Will J Richard, on 19 May 2017

    LDUCZ-X86 horned lizard

    LDUCZ-X86 horned lizard

    The Mexican plateau horned lizard (Phrynosoma orbiculare) is a small reptile native to the high plateau of Central Mexico. They are almost spherical, about the size of a 50p coin, and have two characteristic horn-like projections on their snout. They seem pretty harmless… THIS IS NOT THE CASE. As a last resort the tiny lizards can shoot streams of pressurised blood from the corners of their eyes, spraying predators over a metre and half away. At first this seemed the single grimmest thing I’ve ever read about any animal but it got me looking at other disgusting ways species choose to defend themselves. These are a few of my “favourites”…

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    Specimen of the Week 289: Proavis Wax Model

    By Hannah Cornish, on 28 April 2017

    This week we bring you a charming and slightly mad model of an animal that never was. Look, up on the shelf! It’s a bird! It’s a dinosaur! No, specimen of the week is…

    Proavis wax model LDUCZ-X1180

    Proavis wax model LDUCZ-X1180

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    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….. 

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    Specimen of the Week 271: Helmeted guineafowl

    By Dean W Veall, on 23 December 2016

    Dean Veall here. ‘Twas the night before the night before Christmas and all the Museum, not a creature was stirring (on account of them being dead and all), not even a mouse, (because that particular specimen was preserved using an experimental freeze drying technique). Festive greetings blog readers. I’ve chosen the guineafowl for my specimen this week, which has (sort of, ish) festive connections. The wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo), was often confused with the more familiar guineafowl in the 1600’s when European settlers reached America, due to the the featherless heads and similar colouration of the plumage.  And with that tenuous festive link, this week’s Specimen of the Week is:

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    Specimen of the Week 262: Little spotted kiwi

    By Paolo W Viscardi, on 21 October 2016

    Welcome zoology fans, it’s another installation of the Specimen of the Week and this time we have something I like to call the Badger bird. I call it that not because it has black and white stripes on its face (it doesn’t), but because it’s the closest the bird world has managed to get to a myopic, snuffling, nocturnal, earthworm-devouring, somewhat stinky, mammal. That’s right, it’s the

    LDUCZ-Y1575 Apteryx owenii

    LDUCZ-Y1575 Apteryx owenii skeleton

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    Specimen of the Week 259 : Bird of Paradise

    By Jack Ashby, on 30 September 2016

    Less bird-of paradise skeleton. LDUCZ-Y1696

    Less bird-of paradise skeleton. LDUCZ-Y1696

    If natural selection can be summarised as “survival of the fittest”, how is it that some animals have evolved features that seem to be rather unhelpful to their survival? Deer antlers, peacock tails and babirusa tusks do not help an animal to stay alive. Darwin asked a similar question in The Origin of Species, and also came up with an answer – sexual selection.

    Sexual selection is a sub-set of natural selection, where the driving force is not on the animal to survive, but instead to have the most descendants. It is the mechanism by which species evolve weapons that help them fight off rivals; ornaments that make them more attractive to the opposite sex; or behaviours that ensure sexual encounters result in more or fitter babies. One of the best examples of absurdly ornamented animals are male birds-of-paradise. (more…)

    Specimen of the Week 256: the pickled pigeon

    By Paolo W Viscardi, on 9 September 2016

    Happy Friday everybody! Today I have a slightly gross specimen of the week for you, in the form of this lovely

    LDUCZ-Y1713 Columba livia

    **pickled pigeon**

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