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Specimen of the Week 338: a tour of the Platypus Skeleton

JackAshby13 April 2018

Anyone who tells you that the platypus isn’t the best animal in the world is a liar. This is my conclusion after nearly fourteen years working in the museum that [probably] has more platypuses on display than any museum in the world*. My first ever Grant Museum Specimen of the Week was a taxidermy platypus, and here I return to this exceptional beast to explore the platypus stripped bare.

A platypus skeleton. LDUCZ-Z26

A platypus skeleton. LDUCZ-Z26

The beauty of skeletons is that every lump and bump tells a story. Bone is shaped by the muscles, tendons and ligaments that pull on it, so we can trace the lives of animals as well as their evolutionary histories by asking why skeletons are shaped the way they are.

Allow me to take you on a tour of… (more…)

Specimen of the Week 190: The Platypus Tooth

JackAshby1 June 2015

A slide showing a fragment of platypus tooth from the Grant Museum Micrarium

A slide showing a fragment of
platypus tooth from the
Grant Museum Micrarium

I have to admit that when I first encountered this object I didn’t recognise what it was until I read the label, which is scratched into the glass slide that houses it. I don’t feel too bad about that as it is essentially microscopic, and very few people have ever seen one of these specimens. It is among the very smallest objects in the Museum.

Unsurprisingly then, it is on display in the Micrarium – our place for tiny things. This beautiful back-lit cave showcases over 2000 of the 20,000 microscope slides in our care – it broke the mould for how museums display their slide collections.

I first wrote about the species featured on this slide in my first ever Specimen of the Week, but that was taxidermy – a real A-Lister compared to the miniscule, obscure fragment I have selected here. This week’s Specimen of the Week is…

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Specimen of the Week: Week 134

JackAshby5 May 2014

For the past 133 weeks your weekly Specimen of the Week was lovingly delivered to you by our Curatorial Assistant Emma, who left the Grant Museum on Friday for an exciting new job. The show must go on, however, and from now on the rest of Team Grant will take it in turns to select and serve the treasures we find in our collections.

As you may predict, it could be very tempting for someone with the power to select which Specimens of the Week are featured to highlight with bias the species they are most interested in (shark expert Emma gave you a ridiculous THIRTY-THREE blog posts featuring sharks in her reign). I frown upon such prejudice, and will stay well away from Australian mammals, my own field of zoological nerdery. This week’s Specimen of the Week is…

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We’re all heart at the Grant Museum

Emma-LouiseNicholls14 February 2014

The dissected giraffe heart

No matter who you are or where you come from, you have to admire the giraffe’s heart. It manages to pump blood up arteries in a neck that can reach over two metres in length. It is helped out by a series of valves that prevent the blood from flowing back down again (except through the veins, in which it is supposed to flow back down again). The giraffe’s heart is, surprisingly, smaller than that of mammals of a comparative body size. The heart copes with the morphology of the animal by having really thick muscle walls and a small radius. The result is a very powerful organ. I wonder if that means giraffes fall in love really easily, or find it harder to get over their exes? (more…)

Specimen of the Week: Week Eighty-Three

Emma-LouiseNicholls13 May 2013

Scary MonkeyThough an ever popular species with visitors to the Grant Museum, this week’s Specimen of the Week elicits some interesting reactions ranging from immediate recognition, through outlandish phylogenetic inaccuracies (mainly from children, but it’s fine either way), through to bog standard raised eyebrows. This week’s Specimen of the Week is… (more…)

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