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UCL Culture Blog


News and musings from the UCL Culture team


Specimen of the Week 243 – Dolphin Foetus

By tcrnrh1, on 10 June 2016

1. Unpredictable as usual

The Grant Museum is a haven for the unexpected. As is often the case with the collection (at least, for me anyway), just when you’re expecting to see an animal that you feel fairly au fait with… the museum presents you with specimens that are: dissected, bisected, exploded, stained, crammed with others in a jar or injected with alizarin. So as a case in point, here is the rinsed skeleton of a dolphin foetus.

LDUCZ-Z3092 - Dolphin Foetus Image

LDUCZ-Z3092 – Dolphin Foetus


Specimen of the Week 197: The Common Dolphin Skull

By Will J Richard, on 20 July 2015

LDUCZ-Z2277 common dolphin skull (Delphinus sp.)

LDUCZ-Z2277 common dolphin skull (Delphinus sp.)

Hello! Will Richard here, putting fingers to keyboard once again to bring you the next instalment of specimen of the week. And this week I am going to make things easy for myself. I’ve had enough of subspecies versus species, questionable (mis)identifications, taxing taxonomy and chaotic cladistics. So this time I’m keeping it simple. A cut and dried case: the common dolphin. What could be clearer?



Specimen of the Week: Week 108

By Emma-Louise Nicholls, on 4 November 2013

There is a lot to celebrate around this time of year. Halloween was just a few days ago, bonfire night is tomorrow, and there were plenty of sparklers and fireworks over the weekend (my hamster wasn’t impressed). Plus there is the changing of the seasons, the onset of brown and orange leaves, and it’s reaching the time to dig out the very thick jumpers rather than the medium thick jumpers I’ve been wearing for the last month. It is tempting to write a blog about a species connected to any one of these festive events, so many creatures could be both realistically and tenuously linked to such times as this. But I’m not going to do any of that. This week’s Specimen of the Week is… (more…)

Specimen of the Week: Week Eighty-Two

By Emma-Louise Nicholls, on 6 May 2013

Scary MonkeyThe sun is here!! Wow, I had genuinely forgotten what being warm outdoors felt like. Other than the sweaty sort of warmth that comes from running for buses. Being rather more reptilian than the average Homo sapiens I am very much a hot weather person. My DNA decided at an early stage of my life to go against the grain of our hominid evolutionary path, the result of which is that I am a shockingly inefficient endotherm. Over the years I have spent any moment I am able, out of the UK, inserting myself wherever possible into a country with greater levels of UV. One of my favourite placements was at the Florida Museum of Natural History where I worked on a shark exhibition. Whilst there I saw and fell head over heels in love with a certain species that unquestionably warrants the use of words such as ‘beautiful’, ‘awe-inspiring’ and ‘breath taking’. We happen to have a foetus of this species in the collection, which makes for a good excuse to tell you all about this magnificent animal. This week’s Specimen of the Week is…


Pinocchio’s not the only one who’s been inside a whale

By Emma-Louise Nicholls, on 7 November 2012

WhaleFest 2012

The entrance to WhaleFest 2012

The entrance to WhaleFest 2012. Image by Emma-Louise Nicholls

The sounds you hear in the main hall are those that would be heard on any SCUBA diving trip. The main difference being that every few seconds in this particular extravaganza of acoustic delights, whale songs and dolphin clicks break through the background noise. With very little imagination you could believe you really were underwater as a large number of life size whales and dolphins surround you and blue and green streams of crepe paper hang from the ceiling, looking like waves in the dimmed lights. This was WhaleFest, making an exquisite entrance into my life. (more…)

Specimen of the Week: Week Twenty

By Emma-Louise Nicholls, on 27 February 2012

Scary Monkey Another Monday morning closer to March and the beautiful Spring I am looking forward to. I am not a winter person- give me 35 degrees in the shade any day. My house has been freezing over the winter period and I am getting tired of wearing 900 layers and walking around looking like the Michelin (wo)man. How I wish I lived in a warmer country! Another animal that is struggling in its habitat at the moment is long, blubbery and pink-ish.  This week’s specimen of the week is: (more…)