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  • Curiosities from UCL’s Cabinet

    By Jack Ashby, on 3 May 2017

    Guest post by Rebecca Reynolds

    ‘Curiosities’ seem to be popping up a lot on TV, radio and the web recently – such as in Radio 4’s Museum of Curiosity, where guests donate objects to a vast imaginary museum, and Professor Hutton’s Curiosities, the Discovery Channel’s 2013 series exploring quirky museums from around the UK (including the Grant Museum).

    As many will know, these titles take their cue from cabinets of curiosities, collections kept by physicians, naturalists, explorers and wealthy amateurs throughout Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries. Surviving objects from these cabinets are still on show – one is the Chaucer stone, a piece of flint broken open to show the shape of the poet’s face, in the British Museum’s Enlightenment Gallery; another is Powhatan’s mantle in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford; yet another is ‘the Vegetable Lamb of Tartary’ in the Natural History Museum, a dried fern which people loved to believe was half animal, half plant.

    Egyptian cat goddess Bastet from the Petrie Museum. UC30384

    Egyptian cat goddess Bastet from the Petrie Museum. UC30384

    Three objects from UCL Museums ended up in my own cabinet of curiosities, a book published in February this year. (more…)

    Book Worm… Darwin’s Notebook: The Life, Times and Discoveries of Charles Robert Darwin written and compiled by Jonathan Clements – A Review

    By Naomi Asantewa-Sechereh, on 12 September 2013

    Book Worm

    Book Worm – that’s Grant and a lugworm

    Darwin’s Notebook: The Life, Times and Discoveries of Charles Robert Darwin was first published by The History Press in 2009, the year that marked the bicentennial anniversary of Darwin’s birth. It is a biography which is made to resemble a personal notebook by the inclusion of quotations and illustrations from Darwin’s own journals and books. (more…)

    Introducing Book Worm… Mammals of Africa: A Review

    By Jack Ashby, on 7 March 2013

    Book Worm - that's Grant and a lugworm

    Book Worm – that’s Grant and a lugworm

    We’ve tried a few things with our blog here, but so far book reviews haven’t been much of a feature. That may be about to change with our new predictably punned “Book Worm” feature, and to begin with I’m going for one that really is a bit of an event in zoological publishing – Mammals of Africa, published this month by Bloomsbury, and edited by the legendary Jonathan Kingdon (who also beautifully illustrates the series), David and Merridith Happold, Thomas Butyinksi, Michael Hoffman and Jan Kalina.

    My very favourite book to leaf through, because of my own zoological leanings, is Mammals of Australia (Van Dyck and Strahan, 2008). There is something deeply satisfying in completeness, and this book gives detailed and comprehensive information about every single known species of mammal in Australia. Australia is very big, and so is that book. It weighs more than 6kg. Now imagine putting together such a project for Africa, which dwarves Australia in size and variety of biotic zones. It’s a continent more rich in species of rodent than Australia is in species of mammals (and that is to say a lot).

    Mammals of Africa, therefore, is comprised of six 6kg volumes, each tackling one sixth of the continent’s diversity, extensively covering all 1116 extant known species. This is probably why such an undertaking has never been undertaken before. (more…)