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Dating Mammalian Evolution

Fri, 28 Mar 2014 15:14:37 +0000

When the age of the dinosaurs ended around 65 million years ago, mammals stepped in to fill the gap, and the age of the placentals began. However, whether early placental mammals were already present on Earth before the demise of the dinosaurs has been the subject of a long standing debate. Recent research in GEE [...]

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The Delicate Balance of Effect and Response

Tue, 18 Feb 2014 11:50:36 +0000

We may not always be aware of it, but many wild plants, animals, fungi and even bacteria, provide crucial services to us which keep the ecosystems of Earth functioning. Environmental changes caused by human activities are now threatening many species, and those that cannot withstand these changes may be lost forever, potentially taking the services [...]

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It’s All in the Wrist

Fri, 20 Dec 2013 16:18:20 +0000

The evolution of the primate wrist has been dramatic, enabling primates to adapt to a wide variety of lifestyles and walking styles, including tree-swinging, climbing and terrestrial walking both on four legs and two. In hominids, the evolution of the bipedal gait freed up the forelimbs for tool use, and the wrist evolved independently from [...]

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The Transcriptional Profile of A ‘Wingman’

Wed, 27 Nov 2013 14:25:48 +0000

In many species, males have special adaptations to attract females. From antlers to stalk-eyes, to bright plumage and beards, males across the animal kingdom work hard to look attractive to the opposite sex. In some species, looking good isn’t enough, though. Male wild turkeys need a less attractive ‘wingman’ to help him attract a woman. [...]

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Damage and Fidelity: The Role of the Female Germline in mtDNA Inheritance

Mon, 11 Nov 2013 15:13:12 +0000

Billions of years ago, one single-celled organism engulfed another, beginning a symbiotic interaction that would change live on Earth forever. The mitochondria are what remains of this symbiotic event, and are responsible for producing energy in all eukaryotic cells. Derived from a free-living organism, they carry their own genes, but these genes are at risk [...]

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The Grant Museum celebrates its re-opening and fantastic new location

29 March 2011

UCL’s Grant Museum of Zoology re-opened on 15 March, allowing some of the rarest extinct animal specimens in the world to be displayed for the first time. Previously lost dodo bones, the remains of a quagga (an extinct species of half-striped zebra) and a giant Irish elk with antlers measuring nearly 3 metres across, are among the 70,000 specimens that can be seen in the new museum space.  It still holds many specimens collected by Robert Edmond Grant, the first professor of zoology and comparative anatomy in England. Because of the age of the collection, many of the species in the museum are now endangered or extinct.

Grant Museum Opening 3   Grant Museum Opening

Photos by courtesy of Kirsten Holst

UCL Professor of Genetics, Steve Jones, said: “Dylan Thomas described Swansea Museum as “a museum that should have been in a museum”. That was meant as somewhat of an insult, but for the Grant Museum it is praise indeed: a restored Victorian treasure-house crammed with specimens from a bottle of preserved moles to extinct zebras and (just identified) the legs of a dodo. And all this was put together by the man that taught zoology to Charles Darwin – which means, I am sure, that this will become a standard stop on the London tourist trail.”

The Museum is also turning to cutting-edge technology to look at how visitors can interact with objects and uncover deeper themes about natural history. Dotted alongside displays of stuffed chimpanzees and huge anaconda skeletons are iPads, asking provocative questions about the ways museums operate and the role of science in society.

The first questions the museum is asking its visitors to answer include: “What makes an animal British?”, “Can keeping pets be justified given their impact on wildlife?”, “Should science shy away from studying biological differences between races?”

People can engage with the topics either via the Museum’s iPads, their own smart phones via QR codes (square bar-codes), or using twitter, breaking new ground for museum engagement. Continuing the Museum’s tradition of research and learning, ‘QRator’ has been designed as part of a UCL Centre for Advanced Spacial Analysis and UCL Centre for Digital Humanities research project called “Tales of Things” (http://www.talesofthings.com).

Carnivore display

QRator is an iPad-based system that allows everyone to be a curator and share their views on an exhibition. Visitors can examine an object before leaving their thoughts about it on an iPad to create a digital, ‘living’ label that subsequent visitors can read and respond to.  By downloading a free application to an iPhone or android phone, visitors will be able to see rolling updates to the digital label after they leave the museum, or via twitter.

Natasha McEnroe, Manager of the Grant Museum of Zoology said: “We want to give our audiences unprecedented opportunities to engage in the museum’s work and feed into how our museums should be run, opportunities for them to tell us what they know and need to know about the life sciences, what issues they care about and want museums to raise.”

Image: Lion skeleton in a case of carnivores. Most of the Museum's main displays are arranged so that the species are displayed with their closest relatives.  Credit: UCL Grant Museum of Zoology/Matt Clayton

Media contact: Clare Ryan

Links:
Grant Museum of Zoology
UCL Centre for Advanced Spacial Analysis
Coverage in Nature (Books & Arts section)
BBC News online video

UCL context

UCL's Museums and Collections cover a wide variety of disciplines, reflecting the range of the university's academic work. Three collections - the Petrie Museum, the Grant Museum and the Art Collections - are open to the public. Other collections are primarily for teaching and research but can be seen and studied by appointment.

We support teaching and learning, undertake and support research and run a wide range of events and outreach programmes.


Page last modified on 29 mar 11 17:42