The mystery of the microfossil Christmas cards | Curator of Micropaleontology

At this time of year our famous microfossil Christmas card slides always get a lot of attention. An article in Smithsonian Magazine this week followed a very popular Tweet in early December and perhaps the most famous of the slides is about to be displayed in Museum’s Touring Treasures exhibition in Bahrain in early 2019.

Christmas card slide
Arthur Earland foraminiferal Christmas card slide sent to Edward Heron-Allen in 1921.

This year, three additional Christmas greeting slides were added to our collection as part of an exceptionally generous donation by the Quekett Microscopical Club. They returned Arthur Earland’s foraminiferal collection to its place alongside long term collaborator Edward Heron-Allen’s collection at the Museum by purchasing the collection from the estate of Brian Davidson and donating it to the Museum.

Read on to find out why most of this new acquisition can be considered upside-down, contains more evidence of the two scientists falling out and the mystery of the three “new” Christmas greeting slides.

Continue reading “The mystery of the microfossil Christmas cards | Curator of Micropaleontology”

Trying something new – building the Life in the Dark interactive splash | Digital Media at the NHM

http://www.nhm.ac.uk/visit/exhibitions/life-in-the-dark.html

As part of the museum’s Life in the Dark exhibition digital content offer, we decided to try something new for our exhibition landing page to help promote interest and engagement.  We ended up using a new mix of front end technologies to build it, so here’s a (long) technical walk through of the various challenges and solutions we encountered.

Continue reading “Trying something new – building the Life in the Dark interactive splash | Digital Media at the NHM”

Stranded Sharks | Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme

Across the UK, many different creatures wash up on our shores. The Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme (CSIP) is responsible for documenting stranded animals in the UK and retrieves a portion of those that strand for post-mortem examination every year. The main bulk of the project is made up of cetaceans – a group of marine mammals comprised of whales, dolphins and porpoises.

However, many people don’t realise the project also responds to strandings of sharks. Since 2007, the CSIP has recorded the stranding of basking sharks (Cetorhinus maximus) across the UK and more recently secured funding  to expand the research to other large-bodied sharks such as porbeagles (Lamna nasus), angel sharks (Squatina squatina) and blue sharks (Prionace glauca).

WARNING: This blog contains photographs of dead stranded sharks which you may find upsetting

Continue reading “Stranded Sharks | Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme”

Wildlife Garden Autumn BioBlitz – Pond Species Review Part 1|Citizen science

In the latest BioBlitz which took place in the Museum’s Wildlife Garden, we had a look in the garden’s pond to discover what kind of animals live there! We were very excited to see many of you taking part in our pond dipping and we would like to share with you what we found.

Read on to discover what we found.

Continue reading “Wildlife Garden Autumn BioBlitz – Pond Species Review Part 1|Citizen science”

The space missions looking to understand more about water in our Solar System | Planetary Science PhD Students

It is an incredibly exciting time to be studying asteroids – two incredible space missions are reaching the most exciting phases of their journeys! On the 27th June this year, the Japanese Space Agency mission ‘Hayabusa2’ arrived at the near Earth asteroid Ryugu, after travelling for three and a half years and travelling 3.2 billion kilometres. On the 3rd December the NASA mission OSIRIS-REx (Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer) will arrive at the near Earth asteroid Bennu.

These two missions are ‘sample return’ missions, which means they will try and collect some material from the asteroids and then bring them back to Earth, so we can do detailed analyses, which would be impossible to do remotely.
Continue reading “The space missions looking to understand more about water in our Solar System | Planetary Science PhD Students”

“Mr. Cooper, meet ALICE.” – Part 2 | Digital Collections Programme

Guest Blog by Phaedra Kokkini

This is the second part of the story behind about the ALICE pilot project. While the first part focused on piloting our ‘Angled Label Image Capture and Extraction’ or ALICE, this part will focus on the collection and collector. Quite unexpectedly, while preparing our chosen collection for imaging I got to know a person through his collection of pinned insects. Continue reading ““Mr. Cooper, meet ALICE.” – Part 2 | Digital Collections Programme”

“Mr. Cooper, meet ALICE.” – Part 1 | Digital Collections Programme

Guest Blog by Phaedra Kokkini

If you visit our Digitisation Team, you might be drawn to one of our more curious imaging setups, the ‘Angled Label Image Capture and Extraction’ or to close friends: ALICE.

ALICE came about through the collaboration of  Small Orders Curator Dr Ben Price and Digital Collections Project Manager Dr Steen Dupont in order to automate some of the processes to speed up our pinned insect digitisation.

A peculiar setup that used to feature a bucket and six cameras is now a hexagonal light box with cameras that can image pinned insect specimens at multiple angles to digitally extract the attached labels and could provide a breakthrough to an even faster specimen digitisation.

Dr Steen Dupont describes ALICE

I was very excited to start this project as the first test of ALICE’s true potential. What I didn’t expect was that the collection chosen to test ALICE would reveal some stunning wasps and an intriguing untold story of its previous owner. Continue reading ““Mr. Cooper, meet ALICE.” – Part 1 | Digital Collections Programme”