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Image caption: Prince William holds Sarah the tarantula

 

Did you see Prince William and the tarantula images in the press last week? Looking slightly wary or pretty relaxed depending on which millisecond of action the camera caught! He was holding the tarantula at the opening of the Museum's new Darwin Centre last Monday.

 

The tarantula in the photos is called Sarah and is the pet of a member of staff. She was brought in for the The Secrets of Spider Dating talk, part of the Museum's free daily Nature Live events.

 

Museum spider expert Jan Beccaloni gave the talk and shared her wisdom of spiders telling fascinating facts such as how there are 40,000 or more species of spider in the world and how the jumping spiders have the best eyesight.

 

And, if that isn't fascinating enough, the American Museum of Natural History has just put on display a textile made from spider silk. It took 80 people, using more than 1 million spiders, 4 years to make.

 

They collected female golden orb spiders daily from telephone wires from the capital of Madagascar, Antananarivo, during the rainy season (the only time the spiders produce silk).

 

The process needed people to draw the silk from each spider using hand-powered machines. Each spider produces more than 24m of silk filament. The spiders are released afterwards unharmed.

 

So, if you are lucky enough to be in New York, make your way to the Museum and have a look at the rare specimen. Not in America? Get a copy of Jan Beccaloni's new book Arachnids.

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This week saw the launch of our spectacular new Darwin Centre, with Prince William and Sir David Attenborough. Like no other museum so far, the landmark building with its impressive cocoon structure brings our science, scientists and specimens live and direct to the public.

Not quite as exciting, but hopefully sure to be just as interesting, is the launch of this new Natural History Museum Nature News Blog. I'm hoping to bring news and updates about the work of the Museum's scientists and other nature news - the shorter bits that can or can't be made into full news articles in the website's News section.

I thought I'd begin with some of the science happening in the new Darwin Centre, but there is so much there that I will have to focus on topics, bit by bit, over the next few blogs.

But, the biggest news from the Museum this week is definitely the glittering Darwin Centre grand opening celebrations, with its butterfly confetti, mid-air dancing human butterfly, tarantula close encounter with a royal prince and natural history royalty himself, Sir David Attenborough, all which can be seen in the collection of videos we have on our site.

I leave you with a snippet of Prince William's speech:

'The Natural History Museum is one of our great institutions. Its collections, and what it achieves in the areas of research and education make it - quite simply - the envy of the world. This magnificent new wing will further enhance the museum’s peerless reputation.’

Come back soon for more nature news.



Yvonne

Yvonne

Member since: Aug 27, 2009

This Nature News Blog will bring you snippets of news about the work of Museum scientists and other science and nature news.

View Yvonne's profile