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November 8, 2011


Collection Management Seminar


Making the Insect World: What historical entomology texts can tell us about the cultural dimensions of insect-human relations


Dr. Adam Dodd,

Postdoctoral Research Fellow,

Department of Culture Studies and Oriental Languages,

University of Oslo


THURSDAY 24th November 2011,

Flett Lecture Theatre, NHM, South Kensington

14:30 -16:00


Dr Dodd will outline his postdoctoral research work undertaken in collaboration with the NHM Centre for Arts and Humanities Research (CAHR) #and the Library and Archives of the Natural History Museum. Incorporating numerous examples from a range of entomological texts,  dating from the early seventeenth century onward, he will outline his investigation of what these texts can tell us about the historical role of media and culture in the establishment and reinforcement of what might be called an ‘insect-human rapport’. In line with the broader research questions of the Oslo-based animal studies project,  Dr Dodd will discuss the extent to which insects have been historically figured as ‘objects’ and ‘signs’. On the one hand, this involves engagement with insect specimen collections, and on the other, with the analysis of the representational conventions of entomological illustrations. In the middle, perhaps, are some of the volumes found in the Sloane herbaria – which include insect bodies, arranged into rudimentary scenes with plant specimens, pressed and preserved between the pages of books.


The talk will provide an example of the ways in which the NHM Library collection may inform and facilitate new interdisciplinary work in the humanities, and in particular, historically-oriented work undertaken from a media and cultural studies perspective.



Tea and coffee will be available in the seminar room lobby area after the talk.


Suggestions for seminar speakers are always most welcome. Please contact the organiser Clare Valentine (



For additional details on attending this seminar see


Palaeontology Seminar


Deciphering the early evolution of echinoderms using Cambrian taxa


Dr. Samuel Zamora,

Department of Palaeontology, NHM



THURSDAY 10th November
Neil Chalmers Seminar Room (DC2 LG16)

16:00 - 17:00



Echinoderms (e.g., sea urchins and starfishes) are a major component of the modern seas and have an impressive fossil record that goes back to the lower Cambrian (520 Mya). Despite this well documented history, the earliest steps in their evolution remain poorly documented. Although both ontogeny and sister-group relationships indicate that echinoderms must have had passed through a bilateral stage in their ancestry, there has been no fossil record to provide the empirical proof that this stage existed. Indeed, the earliest fossil echinoderms are all radial or asymmetric forms. However, there are significant problems concerning the completeness of the Cambrian record of fossil echinoderms. Newly discovered fossils from Gondwana are bilaterally symmetrical echinoderms and represent the most primitive members of the group. Thus all three lines of evidence (ontogeny, sister-group relationships and palaeontology) are in agreement and show that the most primitive echinoderms were bilateral rather than radial.



For additional details on attending this seminar see