Category Archives: Digital collections

The Miniature Lives Magnified project is now complete!

A very big thank-you to the 1,000-plus in-house Visiteers and online Volunteers who helped us to extract research data from over 6,000 microscope slides of the world’s smallest insects – the chalcid parasitoid wasps. The Miniature Lives Magnified project is now closed, but you can still take part in our Digital Collections Programme by helping us with our microscope slides of Foraminifera in Miniature Fossils Magnified.

Over the course of the summer we will be processing the chalcid collection’s specimen label data that was transcribed by our digital volunteers. It will become available on the Museum’s Data Portal for anyone in the world to study.

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Beauties and the beasts in the louse collection | Digital Collections Programme

1) Eagle Lice
Three large lice (Laemobothrion vulturis) taken from a greater spotted eagle available on the data portal

Our fantastic digitisers started working on the Museum’s parasitic louse (Phthiraptera) collection in early 2017 and are now over halfway through digitising the collection.

We have so far imaged >50,000 louse slides that are publically available through the Museum Data Portal. Continue reading

Butterflies and their sensational parasitoids | Digital Collections Programme

The Museum’s Sensational Butterflies exhibition is host to over 500 butterflies each year. Each morning, work in the Museum’s butterfly house starts two hours before the exhibition opens because it takes constant attention to maintain the ideal environment for these butterflies to flourish. One of the aspects that needs to be attended to is pest control.

an image of the sensational butterfly exhibition

Pest-free foliage in the Sensational Butterflies exhibition

One of the most significant pests that needs to be kept under control in the butterfly house are Aphids.

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Freezing thousands of bees at -80 degrees | Digital Collections Programme

The UK Insect Pollinators Initiative (IPI) provided funding between 2010-2015. This was a joint initiative supported by the Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra), NERC, the Wellcome Trust and the Scottish Government, under the Living With Environmental Change (LWEC) partnership to support projects studying a wide variety of UK pollinators and their habitats.

Nine separate projects were funded and as a result of these projects around 50,000 specimens were collected.

A photograph of the Molecular and Frozen Collections Manager with some of the frozen IPI specimens.

Jacqueline Mackenzie-Dodds, Molecular and Frozen Collections Manager with some of the IPI specimens.

Insects visiting flowers, including bees, hoverflies, beetles, butterflies and moths, are very important to plants. While moving between flowers they carry pollen from one flower to another.

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Horrors of the Green Ground cemetery | Human anthropology

Crania from the Green Ground on Portugal Street

Crania from the Green Ground on Portugal Street

A team of Natural History Museum anthropologists have been digitising and analysing a collection human remains from London in order to learn more about the lives and deaths of people who lived in the capital.

While studying bones from a post-medieval cemetery known as the ‘Green Ground’ on Portugal Street, we dug deeper into the history of this cemetery.

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Syphilis in post-medieval London | Human Anthropology

Syphilitic lesions on a cranial fragment

Syphilitic lesions on a cranial fragment from London.

In the Natural History Museum’s collections there are a number of human remains from various sites throughout London. Many of these originate from post-medieval burial grounds which were closed in the 1850s. Although many of the bodies were moved to outer-London cemeteries, some were left behind. It is, therefore, not unusual to accidentally uncover post-medieval burials during building works in the capital.

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Filling in the gap: dental disease in past populations | Human Anthropology

Roman adult dental decay

Roman adult, probable female from Cannon Street with heavy dental calculus on right premolars and molars

Today many people, both children and adults, dread going to the dentist. Whether it’s the odd smells, the gritty taste of the polishing paste, or the fear of being told you need a root canal, most people find it to be an unpleasant experience. For me, however, as an Anthropologist who has seen just how bad dental health can be, I look forward to my dentist visits! It only takes looking at the teeth of people from the past to make me brush my teeth and floss everyday.

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