This year I’m writing a diary entry each month for a typical week in the life of a Principal Curator at the Natural History Museum. In the January entry I cover the return to work after Christmas, home schooling, the return of Dippy, news of a possible move of the collection in my charge to Harwell and a rare trip into S Kensington.Continue reading “Curator of Micropalaeontology | Diary of a Principal Curator Jan 2021”
2020 has been a difficult year and since March we have been working away from the collections in South Kensington. Learning new on-line communication skills has created opportunities for making our collections available to a wider audience.
Read on to find how using Microsoft Teams and a Nikon microscope we have remotely delivered access to our Micropalaeontology collections for the first time.Continue reading “Lockdown introduces a new method for engaging with our collections | Curator of Micropaleontology”
This pre-lockdown publication from the Micropaleontology team at the Museum has received a lot of press and social media attention. CT scans of the calcareous shells of microscopic plankton called Foraminifera have shown that modern examples can be considerably thinner than their equivalents recovered by the ground breaking Challenger Expedition of the 1870s. We argue this thinning is due to increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and subsequently more acidic oceans.
Read on to find out about the methods used and why this discovery is so significant for the future of our oceans and planet.
Last week the Museum internally launched its new strategy to 2031. It called us to make our data, insight, knowledge and expertise openly available. Strategic priorities included transforming the study of natural history to benefit people and planet as well as training future generations of scientists.
I immediately felt compelled to write about a paper we jointly published on-line this week in the journal Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology that features our collections. We provided data for a project run by Yale University to create a portal of calcareous plankton called Foraminifera. It can be used to train the scientists of the future and test a machine learning classifier that could generate large datasets vital for research on our oceans.
A study published this week in Frontiers of Ocean Science based on our Ocean Bottom Deposits Collection has shown the value of historical sediment collections to provide a benchmark to assess global changes in the seafloor environment.
Read on to find out how NHM/Southampton PhD student Marina Rillo used the microfossil content of these collections to develop a method to assess their usefulness in providing details of the state of the ocean floor as long as 150 years ago.
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.
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.
When I was at school I had my own geological museum under my bed. Aged 6 I took some of the first specimens in my collection to school for show and tell. This summer term I found myself doing the same at my 7 year old son Pelham’s school (thank you Natasha for volunteering me). I took some specimens on loan from the Museum’s handling collection and some of my favourite specimens from my original collection.
Read on to find out about the specimen that’s been on TV, the rock that is much lighter than it looks and where in Hintze Hall you can come do your own Key Stage 2 revision on Geology.
In June, a book was published highlighting the archaeological and forensic applications of micropalaeontology and a deeper understanding of human history. The Museum’s Tom Hill is one of the editors of this volume of papers, some of which feature contributions from Museum staff and associates.
Read on to find out how Museum scientists have provided evidence about the early human occupants of the British Isles, provenance materials used in ancient pottery and provided forensic evidence for drowning and murder. A brief review of other chapters in the book underlines the importance of the study of micropalaeontology.
Most geological collections we hear about in the news are the prettiest, oldest, youngest, largest, smallest, rarest, most expensive or have some exciting story related to them that ties them to the evolution of our planet. Dinosaurs, human remains and meteorites are particularly popular. Over the last year we’ve embarked on a major curatorial project rehousing something that is the opposite – an unglamorous collection of bags of crushed rock.
I’ll be explaining why the samples needed to be re-housed and most importantly why they are strategically important to the work of the Museum and needed to be kept for future reference. And also why we are all dressed up in protective equipment and why I had to learn to drive a fork lift truck! Continue reading “The importance of being an unglamorous collection | Curator of Micropalaeontology”
The micropalaeontology team attended the annual conference of The Micropalaeontological Society in Lille last week. My wife thinks that conferences are just an excuse for drinking, but I keep telling her that this is only partly true.
Read on to find out what we were doing in Lille, besides drinking Belgian beer of course! Continue reading “What do scientists do at conferences? | Curator of Micropalaeontology”