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UCL Culture Blog


News and musings from the UCL Culture team


Specimen of the Week 255: the cottonmouth head

By Will J Richard, on 2 September 2016

Hello! Will Richard here blogging away to bring you another specimen of the week. And this one is an excellent example of the classic head in a jar. Timeless.

LDUCZ-X1336 preserved cottonmouth head

LDUCZ-X1336 preserved cottonmouth head


Specimen of the Week 204: The ringtail skeleton and tail skin

By Jack Ashby, on 7 September 2015

The ringtail skeleton. Bassariscus astutus. LDUCZ-Z1116

The ringtail skeleton. Bassariscus astutus. LDUCZ-Z1116

For the past couple of weeks we’ve been closed to the public while works began to replace our ancient heating system. This means that my favourite parts of the Museum (basically where the marsupials are) have been out of bounds, and so I’ve had to branch out somewhat beyond my usual cabinet to select my Specimen of the Week.

I’ve kept it topical, to link with recent zoological (specifically genital) social media trends, and also to an animal that shares its name with a group of marsupials.

This week’s Specimen of the Week is… (more…)

Specimen of the Week: Week 147

By Jack Ashby, on 4 August 2014

Scary monkeyMuseums are full of mysteries (particularly when you are as cursed with historically challenging documentation, as many university museums are). For example, why do we have a plum in a jar? Why don’t we have a wolf, one of the world’s most widespread mammals? Who ate our Galapagos tortoise? Why do we only have the heart and rectum of a dwarf cassowary? Why is scary monkey (pictured) so scary?

Not to mention, why did we put all those moles in that jar?

After ten years of working here, I am confident that there is no greater mystery in the Grant Museum than this one: why would you stick a battery in a dead animal?

This week’s Specimen of the Week is… (more…)

Specimen of the Week: Week Seventy-One

By Emma-Louise Nicholls, on 18 February 2013

Scary MonkeyAt the Grant Museum of Zoology we pride ourselves on our accessibility, both in terms of the specimens and the staff. The staff office, for those of you who have yet to visit or are perhaps unobservant, is in the Museum itself. One of my favourite sentences that I use on a pretty regular basis (basically any time I can slip it in, I do) is “If you need me, I’ll be behind the rhino”.
We love fondling things at the Grant Museum and host numerous activities each term that allow hands-on sessions with the specimens. A fantastic facility that few other Museums are physically able to offer due to the spider web of red tape that we at UCL merrily skip passed as we form part of a university based teaching collection. However, handling specimens and allowing them to be handled by others comes with its drawbacks. Things can and sadly do get broken and on occasion, things go missing. Fortunately, in my two years of service I have only ever known laminated images of animals from the activity sheets to go missing and they have nearly always been located in the mouth of a small child. However one such animal that would presumably fit in your pocket is this one. This week’s Specimen of the Week is… (more…)

Specimen of the Week: Week Twenty-Two

By Emma-Louise Nicholls, on 12 March 2012

Scary Monkey: Week Twenty-TwoI want you to guess a location. If I say ‘marsupial’, you say…
Survey says…
‘Eh ehhhh’.
Modern marsupials are in fact also found in both North and South America. North America has only acquired one modern species but South America has plenty. To celebrate this exciting fact of the day, the specimen of the week this week is… (more…)