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Specimen of the Week 211: A Cheeky Chappie – The Lowland Paca

ucwepwv26 October 2015

Hi, I’m Paolo and this is my first blog post as Curator of the Grant Museum of Zoology, picking up the reins from Mark Carnall. I’ve chosen this specimen of the week based simply on the fact that it has very interesting cheeks – or ‘zygomatic plates’ if you speak zoologese.

LDUCZ-Z195_Cuniculus-paca

Lowland paca skull Cuniculus paca LDUCZ-Z195

This gnarly-cheeked Specimen of the Week is…

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Specimen of the Week 194: The Death’s-Head Hawkmoth

zcqsrti29 June 2015

The pinned Death's-head hawkmoths. LDUCZ-L1438

The pinned Death’s-head hawkmoths. LDUCZ-L1438

I stand before you to beseech absolution. I confess to my unholy bias in favour of the darker and somewhat supernatural beings of the museum, yet I seek no forgiveness. I will endeavour to one day improve this, and talk about some adorable abomination with darling little eyes and a twee silken coat, but to be honestly forthright, I recoil at the thought. I’ve always found delight in those lacking in vertebral column, often simply regarding the spine itself as excess baggage, hence I rejoice to formally announce that I’m keeping with the creepy invertebrate vibe.

This week’s specimen is most agreeable to the palate of those with a less cute-inclined disposition; with the markings of a demon and the scent of bees, this week’s Specimen of the Week is… (more…)

Specimen of the Week: Week 186

Tannis Davidson4 May 2015

Scary-Monkey-Week-NineSometimes a specimen can tell you a little. Sometimes it can tell you a lot. There has been much written on this blog about the perils and pitfalls of museum documentation. Sometimes there is no information with a specimen – no accession record, no acquisition information, no species name and (occasionally) no specimen. Objects get lost and misplaced. Historical records are incomplete or indecipherable. Specimen labels become separated from their object.

Alternatively, some specimens may have (dare I say it) too much information which may include multiple numbers, several differing records, erroneous taxonomic information or questionable identifications.

Caring for a collection entails many things but first and foremost is to identify the collection itself – through all possible means including the consolidation of any (and all) associated information. When luck prevails, one may find a scrap (literally) of information which ties it all together – a word or two which allows a specimen to be given a name, a record, a life!

Recently while going through the bird drawers, I came across an unaccessioned skull and mandible together with its associated information (unclear object number, outdated taxonomic name) including a  small piece of paper with two words: “El Turco”. This week’s Specimen of the Week is…
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Specimen of the Week 172

Tannis Davidson26 January 2015

Scary-Monkey-Week-NineIt’s that time of year when the Christmas tree has been taken down, gifts have been put away, and all holiday food finally consumed. Folk head back to work, kids return to school and everyone gets on with the business of the new year.

However, for the young (and young-at-heart) January is prime time for the continued enjoyment of new toys and games. Instructions are now understood, multi-piece sets have finally been assembled and a new level of obsessive play-enthusiasm occurs. The post-Christmas clean-up is duly hampered by the constant setting-up and putting-away of various toy sets, 1000 piece puzzles and assorted crafty-painty-arty bits and bobs.

As a tribute to the toy-players and gamers out there, this week’s Specimen of the Week is… (more…)

Specimen of the Week: Week 111

Emma-Louise Nicholls25 November 2013

Last week I was rewarded for my services to mankind* with a free trip to Edinburgh. You may or may not remember a huge hoo-haa about the zoo acquiring (on loan) a pair of giant pandas from China, at GREAT expense. The hoo-haa was primarily amongst the zoological community but raised many an eyebrow, and “tut”s were prevalent amongst colleagues and friends whenever the subject arose. Well, I decided it was time to find out what was what, and visit these controversial immigrants, worth more than their weight in gold, for myself. Well, the first thing I need to say is “AWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW”. I am now completely in love with giant pandas. The second thing is, despite their £600,000 a year loan fee, visitor numbers have apparently risen to such an extent as a result that the pandas not only pay for themselves but have funded two other new animal enclosures in the two years they have been there. Eyebrows raise for different reasons now eh. We don’t have a giant panda (though I informed my Manager of the lucrative result of securing one), but we do have something similar. This week’s Specimen of the Week is… (more…)