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  • Specimen of the Week 350: The Plastic Fantastics

    By Tannis Davidson, on 6 July 2018

    Four fantastic plastic moulds Australosomus merlei: Clockwise from top left: LDUCZ-V1685, LDUCZ-V1696, LDUCZ-1697, LDUCZ-V1698

    Four moulds of Australosomus merlei: Clockwise from top left: LDUCZ-V1685, LDUCZ-V1696, LDUCZ-1697, LDUCZ-V1698

    This week’s Specimen of the Week is a celebration of diversity, fashion and fabulousness. It pays tribute to all the specimens who have suffered discrimination or denied equal status for not being considered ‘real’ specimens. Yes, I’m referring to the casts and particularly the moulds in natural history collections which are too seldom given pride of place on museum display shelves despite contributing an incalculable value in the transmission of scientific ideas and knowledge.

    Casts in natural history museums are often considered second-class museum specimens; their primary function to exemplify the original specimen for comparative purposes. The moulds which produce the casts are arguably even lower down the ladder of regard – transitional objects used in the creation of offspring specimens (casts) and rarely displayed or considered accessionable objects in their own right.

    Apart from their value as conduits of reproduction, moulds are also a resource illustrating both innovation in technique and the fashions of their time. Without further ado, this week’s Specimen of the Week salutes… (more…)