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  • Specimen of the Week 267: The sea squirt

    By Jack Ashby, on 25 November 2016

    You can’t choose your family. This adage is undeniable when it comes to talking about our evolutionary history – we cannot choose to become unrelated to certain groups of animals. One of our closer relatives doesn’t look a lot like us. It is effectively a tough fluid-filled translucent bag sitting on the bottom of the sea, spending its time sucking in water and feeding on microscopic particles it finds there. This week’s specimen of the week is your cousin…

    Sea squirt (with three parastic bivalvles molluscs in it). LDUCZ-Q329

    Sea squirt (with three parastic bivalvles molluscs in it). LDUCZ-Q329

    (more…)

    Do some animals look too boring to be in a museum?

    By Jack Ashby, on 22 March 2016

    There is an underlying struggle in museum displays to fulfil two sets of needs. They have to do both to be successful:

    1. To engage the visitors’ interests, desires or questions that are sparked by their own experience of a topic, whether they come pre-armed with that experience, or whether they acquire it during their visit.
    2. For the museum to tell the stories that it has identified as the stories it exists to tell.
    Too boring-looking to display? LDUCZ-T11

    Too boring-looking to display? LDUCZ-T11

    The struggle comes when a display meets one of these needs but not the other. This issue is the same in the worlds of politics and media – do we tell the people what they want to hear, or do we tell them what we want them to know?*

    In natural history museums, we know that people like big animals, for example. Dinosaurs meet both needs above – people want to see them, and museums want to engage people in stories about them. (more…)