Category Archives: Life sciences

10 Meet the spiders | #NHM_Live

Jan Beccaloni, Curator of Arachnida was with host David Urry to show you some spidery specimens. From their ‘scary movement’ and the impacts of climate change on the species being found in Britain through to the dancing of the peacock spiders, Jan was on hand to answer questions about the world of web slingers during the latest #NHM_Live.

Having discovered spiders are amazing, not terrifying, next week we’ll be bringing out the (really) big fish with Emma Bernard, Curator of Fossil Fish, so join us on Facebook or Twitter at 12.30 BST on Thu 10 Aug for our next episode of #NHM_Live.

If you are enjoying #NHM_Live, please  leave us a review on iTunes because it really helps others to find the podcast.

P.S. Follow @NHM_Arachnida on Twitter for more about spiders and other arachnids.

The birth of a curious mind – Robert Hooke | Curator of Diptera

Today’s blog is in honour of the great microscopist Robert Hooke. Born on 18 July 1685 (which is actually the 28 July today due to the shift to the Gregorian calendar in Britain in 1752), Robert Hooke – although not as famous as some of his counterparts such as Sir Christopher Wren and Sir Isaac Newton – was to have a huge impact on the scientific community. He was a curious individual, always observing, noting, and drawing what he saw. This drive and curiosity resulted in this ‘caulkhead’ (native of the Isle of Wight, UK) producing in 1665 at the tender age of 30 years, one of my favorite books – ‘Micrographia or Some Physiological Descriptions of Minute Bodies Made by Magnifying Glasses with Observations and Inquiries thereupon’.

Photo showing the cover of Erica's copy of Micrographia

My very own copy of the great book Micrographia

Not the snappiest of subtitles, I concur, but contained within the pages of this book are some of the earliest but arguably still scientifically important drawings/diagrams of life as seen under a microscope.

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09 Dippy about the whale | #NHM_Live

On 13 July 2017 the Museum unveiled Hope the blue whale, a spectacular 25-metre-long specimen suspended from the ceiling of the Museum’s central space, Hintze Hall.

Just after the BBC broadcast their Horizon documentary about the new installation, Dippy and the Whale, Richard Sabin, Principal Curator of Mammals, and Lorraine Cornish, Head of Conservation, joined host David Urry for a special #NHM_Live talking about the history, conservation and story behind Hope, direct from our new Whales: Beneath the surface exhibition.

If you are a resident of the UK and you missed Horizon: Dippy and the Whale, see it on BBC iPlayer: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08y3s55 until mid-August. If you are enjoying this #NHM_Live series please don’t forget to subscribe and leave us a review on iTunes.

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

The WHO global partners meeting in Geneva and launch of the 4th WHO NTD report | Sustainability

Starting the Neglected Tropical Disease summit in Geneva this week gone, the World Health Organisation brought together its global partners for a meeting to launch the 4th WHO report on Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs). As an important player in the global effort to control and eliminate these debilitating diseases, the Museum has been following the meeting closely.

Photograph with a number of jars of preserved worms, and two dishes with worms within them in the centre. A pair of forceps lies on the table beside them for scale.

Soil-transmitted helminths in the Museum’s collection

The Museum has had a long history of researching NTDs, particularly those caused by worm infections and/or transmitted by insects. Today the Museum hosts DeWorm3, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a major project researching the control and elimination of soil-transmitted helminths, aka intestinal worms. Intestinal worms are the most common of NTDs. DeWorm3 and Museum NTD experts travelled to Geneva for the NTD summit and report on the meeting.

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The Pink pigeon: can genetic rescue save it from extinction?

by Camilla Ryan, NHM and Earlham Institute, University of East Anglia

Camilla is a PhD student studying “Genome wide analysis of drift and selection of drift and selection using historic and contemporary samples of the endangered Mauritius pink pigeon”.  Professor Ian Barnes from the Museum’s Earth Science department is a co-supervisor for her work.

Many people have never heard of the pink pigeon but almost everyone has heard of the Dodo – one of the most famous animals to have ever gone extinct.

Yet there are many similarities between the two birds; they are even related (by evolutionary standards). Both the pink pigeon and the Dodo come from the Island of Mauritius, both are species of pigeon and both have been severely impacted by the arrival of humans on Mauritius. There is one critical difference between the two: while the Dodo is extinct the pink pigeon is not … yet! Continue reading

Endorsing the Science International Open Data Accord | Digital Collections Programme

A growing number of museums are joining open data initiatives to publish their collection databases and digital reproductions online. The Museum has operated a policy of open by-default on our digital scientific collections.

Photograph of Vince Smith, Head of Informatics reading the Science International Data Accord

Vince Smith, Head of Informatics reading the Science International Data Accord

By signing the International Open Data Accord, the Museum recognises the opportunities and challenges of the data revolution and adopts a set of internationally recognised principles as our response to these.

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