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  • Mystery Blob Sponge: It crawls! It creeps! It eats you alive!

    By Eleanor Morgan, on 14 October 2014

    Day four of my sponge exploration (I’m here for ten months as the Museum’s Artist in Residence). There’s one specimen on the shelf that I’ve been saving as a particularly special treat… it looks like an onion, it’s not sealed in a jar, and it doesn’t have a label. It’s in the glass sponge cabinet, but it doesn’t look like the other specimens. Instead, it has a grey doughy appearance, covered in small holes, and it tapers at the top into a dark red spiral. I take it back to my desk for a closer look.

    The Mystery Sponge

    The Mystery Sponge

     

    One of the (many) great things about spending time in the Grant Museum is that I share a room with people who not only know a lot about zoology, but also want to keep finding out more. I like to distract them from their work with questions like, ‘How do things, erm, grow?’. They are very patient. But today, I had a new question: ‘What is this oniony pointy sponge that has no label?’ Was it, perhaps, the broken base of a glass rope sponge? No – a glass sponge is too thready. Was it a fossil?  No – a fossil would be heavier. Then we had a closer look at its pointy top: (more…)

    It crawls…it creeps…it eats you alive

    By Jack Ashby, on 16 December 2011

    Last week we finished off Natural Mystery Season with a screening of what must be the gooiest monster movie of all time: The Blob (1958). These classic film screenings have become one of the highlights of our ever growing public events programme. The masterful Dr Joe Cain has now introduced 21 of these films, from The Lost World (1925) and King Kong (1933) to Inherit the Wind (1960).

    It must be admitted that with our two films this term, The Blob and War of the Worlds (1953) we may have strayed a little far from natural history – we hope our visitors don’t mind. It’s definitely science, and mainly life science, so I suspect few people noticed. Next term we’ll be back to our roots with two very different must-sees: Under the Caribbean (1954) which I’ve described as a serious ground-breaking documentary that is very hard to take seriously (the ridiculous 1950s English dubbing, and the pretense that they try and make us believe they can talk to each other underwater reminds me of a cross between Eurotrash and Monty Python); and we finish the Humanimals Season with the Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953). These and all of next term’s events can be seen on our what’s on page.

    Back to The Blob: the UCL Events blog gave us a jolly review. It begins:

    Without a doubt, Film Night at the Grant Museum was the most entertaining event that I’ve attended at UCL. On December 6, they screened the 1958 sci-fi/horror cult classic, The Blob.

    Dr Joe Cain holds court. A senior lecturer at UCL by day, he is an avid film fan by night. And possibly by day at weekends.

    This is the first ‘On The Big Screen’ event at UCL that I’ve attended, despite this being the 21st showing. However, it’s clear that the event attracts a regular following, and by the time I arrive the large Darwin lecture theatre is almost full. All ages are represented in the crowd, and the mood is both jovial and excited.

    Read the rest here.