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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…)

    Specimen of the Week 233: The mouse-deer skeleton

    By Will J Richard, on 1 April 2016

    Hello Grant-fans! Will Richard again, taking my turn to bring you specimen of the week. Here goes…

    LDUCZ-Z523 Mouse-deer skeleton

    LDUCZ-Z523 mouse-deer skeleton

    (more…)

    Specimen of the Week: 184

    By Dean W Veall, on 20 April 2015

    Scary-Monkey-Week-Nine Hello dear Grant Museum blog followers, Dean Veall here again bringing you Specimen of the Week 184. This week’s specimen of the week is the result of a recent rummage through the drawers of the collection. Through my contributions for the series I have often gone in search of a specimen that doesn’t get to be seen by the public very often and today’s specimen is indeed one of those and it also revisits an emerging avian tendancy I had not realised I had until I started writing these blogs. This week’s Specimen of the Week is….. (more…)

    True and False Animals

    By Mark Carnall, on 10 January 2014

    When the language of biology meets common parlance there’s often a lot of confusion. Biological nomenclature (often called the scientific name, we are Homo sapiens sapiens* for example)  is by and large controlled using strict rules, format and notations but there aren’t quite so strict rules when it comes to the common names of animals or groups of animals. Some animals we refer to by their taxonomic name, for example; Tyrannosaurus rex, Hippopotamus, Octopus** and Bison. For other animals however, their common, useful to most people and widely understood names create all kinds of problems for the pedantic as I’ve written about before when is comes to sea stars vs starfish. My colleague Jack Ashby wrote about when it comes to seals and sea lions. Consider also that a musk ox is a goat-antelope, horseshoe crabs aren’t crabs at all and the Grant Museum favourite: flying lemurs aren’t and don’t.

    The idea of ‘true’ and ‘false’ animals can also be misleading and a lot of pub discussions/arguments/bets come from animals which aren’t what they are often called or even named. How do some animals end up as the ‘true’ and ‘false’ versions of their group. Let’s have a look at some ‘true’ animals and see how the philosophical concepts of truth has ended up in our zoological lexicons.
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    Specimen of the Week: Week 105

    By Emma-Louise Nicholls, on 14 October 2013

    This week’s Specimen of the Week required more than the normal hour of research and writing (don’t tell the boss). Strange given it is about a species a substantial amount of the global population will have heard of. And yet on this particular area of this species, our knowledge is lacking. It is surprising how little we sometimes know about things that otherwise seem so familiar to us. The first draft of this blog resembled a taxonomic mess of proposed but unsubstantiated scientific names and both limited and shaky evidence supporting both sides of an academic argument over, whether this animal actually exists. What do I mean? Read on armchair explorer, this week’s Specimen of the Week is… (more…)

    Rearranging the natural world

    By Dean W Veall, on 9 May 2013

    Isomorphological forms

    Isomorphological forms

    Here at the Grant Museum we display our objects taxonomically (and have done since Grant founded the collection in 1828), objects are grouped together to reflect their evolutionary relationship to each other. This method of viewing the natural world has been with us since the Swedish naturalist Carl Linneaus introduced his work that classified the natural world, Systema naturalis, in the 18th Century. This method of classification has changed over time to reflect and accommodate current thinking in science, but primarily the principle has remained unchanged, grouping animals based on shared characteristics.

    Artist researcher Gemma Anderson and a group of the public took another view of our collection based on her concept of Isomorphology.

    (more…)

    Hollywood Animals

    By Mark Carnall, on 14 September 2011

    Taxidermy Elephant shrew

    Elephant who? Not Hollywood.

    No. Not the animal stars of the silver screen but a term we use in the Grant Museum to describe a certain set of animals. Hollywood animals* are charismatic animals that are readily identifiable and although the simple classification system of “Hollywood” or “not” doesn’t refer to other taxonomic systems we can see that the possession of  some biological characteristics can significantly improve your chances. In museums, Hollywood animals tend to get used more in education and in exhibitions because they are more readily identifiable and interesting to look at. Hollywood animals also tend to get used more in wider popular culture, in branding for wildlife agencies and in many ways represent wildlife, nature and the rest of the animal kingdom. (more…)