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Press release

A week of free events

Free events at the Natural History Museum
Monday 11 to Sunday 17 and Thursday 28 April 2005

Webcast live at

Spring is here, the sap is rising and it’s not just people that are looking for a mate. Enter a world of courtship in Animal Magnetism, a series of free events exploring nature’s best chat-ups. What gets a fruit fly fruity? What makes the difference between a pick-up and a put-down? And what lies behind our own signals, songs and scents?

An Introduction
Monday 11 April, 14.30
Take a whistle-stop tour through the rituals and displays of the mating season. From flashing to fluttering and wafting to whining, discover the winning ways of the creatures that put Casanova to shame.

Bird Song Serenade
Tuesday 12 April, 14.30
Bird song sounds sweet to our ears, but how does it translate to other birds? Why do birds sing and what do the songs actually ‘mean’? Join Jan Nicholson from the British Library’s amazing sound archive to discover intricate warbles, sizzling tropical duets and the artful mimicry of the bowerbird.

The Sex Life of Squid
Wednesday 13 April, 14.30
Squid belong to a group of animals called the cephalopods, which includes octopus and cuttlefish. They are highly intelligent animals with complex emotional lives, a rich field for zoologists to study. Join this event for an exploration of the intricate mating rituals of the cephalopods.

Don’t Lose Your Head
Thursday 14 April, 14.30
It’s easy to lose your head when your chosen mate has cannibalistic tendencies and a voracious appetite. For the male mantid, sex is a dangerous game. It's all about timing and one wrong move could see it being 'consumed’ by passion. Meet some live specimens and discover the risks they’re prepared to take for sex.

Spider Sex
Friday 15 April, 14.30
Saturday 16 April, 12.00 and 14.30
In the world of spiders, sex can kill. Females dominate so what can the males do about it? Discover how gifts, sensual massage and sleuth-like stealth can keep them playing the game for another mating season.

Sex in the Deep Sea
Sunday 17 April, 14.30
In the cold, deep, dark depths of the ocean there's not much to set the pulse racing, so if the right mate comes along there’s no time to be coy. Discover how deep-sea fish meet and keep their mates, from flashing lights to making the ultimate permanent commitment – attaching to a passing female and becoming a life-long parasite.

Basic Instincts
Thursday 28 April, 19.00
Suitable for ages 15+, advance booking required on 020 7942 5555
Animals use a variety of different strategies to attract a mate, from the more obvious displays of strength to more subtle signals like scent. But what about us? Experts claim to use body language to read our minds, and advertisers would have us believe the right perfume, outfit or accessory will make us irresistible. But does any of it hold water? Discover all you need to know about human attraction and the secret signals you give off.

Darwin Centre Live in the GlaxoSmithKline Studio at the Natural History Museum is a free programme of informal events where visitors can talk to scientists, hear more about their work at the Museum and around the world and see the fascinating specimens they work with. For further information, please contact the Natural History Museum by calling 020 7942 5000 or visit

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Visitor information

Dates: Monday 11 to Sunday 17 and Thursday 28 April 2005
Admission: free (evening event must be booked in advance on 020 7942 5555)
Venue: Darwin Centre at the Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 5BD
Visitor enquiries: 020 7942 5000 Monday–Friday, 020 7942 5011 Saturday and Sunday

For further information, please contact:

Jo Glyde or Chloe Kembery, Science Communication PR
Tel: 020 7942 5880/5881
Email or
(not for publication)

Issued February 2005