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  • Specimen of the Week 276: The Tarsier

    By Rowan J J Tinker, on 27 January 2017

    In a way the shelves are an encased tomb, shut and sealed away until periodically exhumed of their contents. Eddies scatter of rime-like dust now stirred as a looming hand reaches silently into the dark. Once sleeping, now disturbed, a lingering spectre awakens and begins its reanimated shamblings anew.

    We have a spirit in our midst. Not just the liquid kind either, or even a trick of the light for that matter, but a pure dead spectre in the flesh…

    LDUCZ-Z1542. Tarsius sp.

    Preserved tarsier (Tarsius sp.) at the Grant Museum of Zoology. LDUCZ-Z1542

    (more…)

    Specimen of the Week 257: Baboon skeleton

    By Dean W Veall, on 16 September 2016

    Yellow baboon (Papio cynocephalus) skeleton LUCDZ- Z474

    Yellow baboon (Papio cynocephalus) skeleton LUCDZ- Z474

    Dear Specimen of the Week readers, Dean Veall here. This week’s specimen is literally skin and bones (obvs) . I’ve chosen an articulated skeleton and during my research I’ve also uncovered a pelt of the same species in our collection, but do they belong to the same individual. This week’s specimen of the week is the…..

    (more…)

    Specimen of the Week 249: the Galago

    By George W G Phillips, on 22 July 2016

    Hello all! George Phillips here, presenting my first specimen of the week: the galago. The specimen you see before you is Demidoff’s dwarf galago (Galago demidoff), an omnivorous, nocturnal bushbaby native to the rainforests and wooded savanna of Central and West Africa. With a hearty abdominal incision for better internal distribution of preservative fluid, this handsome fellow has likely been a valuable addition to the teaching collection at the Grant Museum over the years. On many occasions I’ve witnessed visitors’ delight at this specimen’s majestic stance and slightly alien features.

    Demidoff’s dwarf galago (Galago demidoff) LDUCZ-Z2899

    The smallest primate in Africa

    Weighing as little as 46 grams with a body length of just ten centimeters, Demidoff’s dwarf galago is the smallest primate found in Africa. (more…)

    Specimen of the Week: Week 170

    By Jack Ashby, on 12 January 2015

    Scary MonkeyA well known technique in making things desirable is to make them appear unattainable. You want it because you’ve been told you can’t have it. This week I’m employing this strategy to make you fall in love with a specimen. Obviously you can’t have any of our specimens as we’re an accredited museum avowed to care for our collections responsibly, which more or less rules out giving them to the public.

    Not only can you not have this week’s Specimen of the Week, you can’t even see it, and there isn’t much more unattainable than that. This isn’t because it’s invisible to the naked eye (though it is small), it’s because it isn’t here.

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

    Specimen of the Week: Week 165

    By Jack Ashby, on 8 December 2014

    Scary MonkeyWhen Specimen of the Week first arose from its fossil ancestors in the Early Blogocene, the niche it originally occupied was to shed light on the darkest corners of our stored collections.

    Over time, there has been some descent with modification. Specimen of the Week maintains its ancestral characters and still has the ability to show the world what museums have in their drawers; but it has also acquired some new adaptations where something amazing is revealed about well-known specimens. Some suspect sexual selection is at work.

    This week, a new mutation has arisen. Instead of lifting the lid on stories from the stores, this Specimen of the Week will shed light on glimpses of horror in a specimen’s database records. Time will tell whether this adaptation will become fixed in the Specimen of the Week population.

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

    Specimen of the Week: Week 158

    By Will J Richard, on 20 October 2014

    Scary MonkeyHello! Will Richard here. I’ve just started working in the Grant Museum and for my first ever Specimen of the Week I thought I’d kick things off with a real “teddy bear” of the treetops. Of course, it’s not actually a bear. And nor, in real life, would it enjoy a cuddle. Shame really.

    So… why did I pick this imposter? Well firstly, I like underdogs. And you don’t get more underdog than this. Secondly, I’ve spent some time with them myself and I’ve always been told to “write about what you know”. And thirdly, of all the things I’ve come across so far in the Grant Museum, this skeleton just happens to be my favourite.

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

    Specimen of the Week: Week 141

    By Jack Ashby, on 23 June 2014

    Specimen of the Week: Week Three Zoology is tribal. To the outside world natural historians present a united front: the geologist is my brother and the botanist my friend. But hidden within are genial rivalries. You might find that those noble folk studying the less sexy animal groups carry a certain disdain for the Hollywood animal fanciers. In palaeontology, fossil coral experts cry themselves to sleep at night when yet another dinosaur story makes the newspapers. In zoology, there is nothing more mainstream than primatology. As a mammal nerd I would certainly be considered on the mass-appeal end of the spectrum, but here I present an unfamous species lost in the shadow cast by a much-celebrated primate in a similar ecological niche. This weeks specimen of the week is…

    (more…)

    Specimen of the Week: Week 117

    By Emma-Louise Nicholls, on 6 January 2014

    A brand new year and a brand new Specimen of the Week, hoorah for both. I learnt the other day that the average (western, I presume) human consumes SIX THOUSAND calories on Christmas Day. That’s ridiculous. Though thinking back to the family festivities in which I partook on Christmas Day just gone, I suspect I may be one of them. So perhaps my New Year’s resolution should be to stick to a diet more like this specimen would have had. It would be much better for me I am sure, though in life, it would also have got a lot more exercise than I do too, and I feel it way too optimistic to think that that is going to change. But then, my skeleton is not quite the same as his/hers, which I feel is an adequate excuse. This week’s Specimen of the Week is… (more…)

    How To: Find Your Head

    By Emma-Louise Nicholls, on 10 July 2013

    Do you having any burning desires to have something explained by someone on the inside? This blog series is a How To Guide for the museological musings of a Museum Assistant. The second along this (hopefully) long and happy blogging path is…

     

    How To: Find Your Head

    There are a number of reasons, you may have been concerned about this, as to why at the Grant Museum you could have come to lose your head. When the collection was in its embryological state, over 180 years ago, it first came in to being as a cohesive group of objects under the guise of being a teaching collection. This is still a focus of the collection today (hence our ‘weird’ opening hours) and subsequently no specimen is safe (except a very select few) from the threat of being handled by keen, and reluctant, students alike. Several of these teaching practicals require specimens to be de-taxonomised (stripped of identification) which has led to all sorts of potential for human re-taxonomising errors over the years. This open access extends to researchers and academics who also wish from time to time to don the nitrile gloves of handling. Plenty of scope for your head being put back in the wrong box or your label being reattached to the wrong specimen. (NEVER by the current Museum Assistant). (more…)

    Specimen of the Week: Week Eighty-Four

    By Emma-Louise Nicholls, on 20 May 2013

    Scary MonkeyI am SO excited. I moved into a new flat last week and it has a balcony. That isn’t even the exciting part. Whilst I was flat hunting I narrowed the list down from 1230 to four by using a list of non-negotiable criteria (it’s good to know what you want in life), and then crossed off everything that didn’t stand up to the requirements. On viewing day, I was waiting for the estate agent outside property number one, staring up at the balcony when an eagle landed on the railing. In an ‘if it’s good enough for the eagle to sit on, it’s good enough for me to live in’ mindset, I took the flat. Almost there and then. After moving in, I took my first balcony outing and as I stepped out the self-same eagle erupted out of the corner and flew off. It was only then that I realised I in fact have a nest on my balcony, right there- on MY balcony, with three medium sized white eggs in it. WOW! I vowed never to step foot on the balcony again in order not to disturb the eagle and her future offspring and now check on her every evening using a mirror stuck to a spatula, very slowly and quietly inserted out of a window. She’s doing very well and I expect her baby eagles to hatch within the the next week or so. Now completely obsessed with baby animals in general, I thought I’d tell you about one we have at the Museum. This week’s Specimen of the Week is… (more…)