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April fools and Easter treats

Posted by Rose Mar 31, 2010

As far as we’re aware there weren't any April Fool’s Day pranks at the Museum today, but we are holding a fun Nature Live event at 14.30 about Fossils, Freaks or Frauds? Come along and join our Museum experts and try being a scientist yourself. You can help identify fossils and decide if they’re real or frauds.

 

Actually it’s not always easy for even the best palaeontologists to spot hoaxes, as history proves. Remember the Piltdown Man? This great story of the fake skull that fooled scientists as the 'missing link' between apes and early humans, was told in last week’s episode of the BBC documentary Museum of Life. If you want to know more, have a look at our Piltddown Man website.

 

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The 1st of April is also worth celebrating because if marks the opening of our Wildlife Garden, shown left, which has been closed over winter.

 

Recent news from our wildlife gardeners is that although the garden’s rabbit has not been seen lately, there have been sightings of fresh droppings on the newly-laid meadow turf, so maybe there’ll be a special appearance for Easter. While the garden’s daffodils are fading, primroses, cowslips, violets and bluebells (just) can now be seen. Long tailed tits, a heron, jay, and nesting blue tits have been spotted alongside our usual feathery friends. The frogs and toads exhausted themselves with a frantic 3 days of mating in the sunshine last week. And there's still frog and toad spawn visible. Oh and the fox is about.

 

There are events coming up in the next 2 weeks in the Wildlife Garden including our first lunchtime recording plants session on 7 April, and Yellow Book Day on 11 April with a felt bird sculpture installation by Anne Belgrave. Browse our Wildlife Garden website for details.

 

Easter events at the Museum

Over the Easter weekend we have some special free talks in our Attenborough Studio which run at 12.30 and 14.30 each day.

 

On Good Friday, find out about the original Easter islands and their famous giant statues, the Moai, pictured below.easter-island.jpg

 

On Easter Saturday, we've got the Egg-stinct: Fossilised Eggs From Prehistoric Times talk where you'll discover about the eggs from dinosaurs and other extraordinary creatures.

 

And in our Easter Sunday special, we take a closer look at the biology of the egg in The Most Perfect Thing in the Universe talk.

 

When you're in the Museum, remember to catch our amazing egg display in the Bird gallery.

 

Arrive early if you are planning a trip here, as we do anticipate queues over the Easter school holidays.

 

Have an eggs-cellent Easter.

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Hooray, the first live butterflies are now fluttering around the butterfly house on the Museum's front lawn in readiness for our Butterfly Explorers exhibition opening on 8 April. As I write this, a little girl has at least one tropical beauty perched gracefully on her nose (here she is below), surrounded by photographers at today’s photo preview.

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Luke Brown, the butterfly manager, told me that the first few hundred butterflies were released in the butterfly house last week, and by the time the exhibition opens next Thursday they are likely to have nearly doubled in numbers.

 

This year’s exhibition has a different themed butterfly house and outdoor garden to last year. It recreates habitats from the steamy tropics of Asia, Africa, South and Central America to the expansive prairie grasslands of North America and even our own parks and  gardens here in the UK. Every child gets given a passport on entry which they can stamp at each border and record important butterfly species spotted along the way. Find out more on our Butterfly Explorers website.

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Above: Inside the butterfly house at Butterfly Explorers. Below: the blue morpho butterfly, Morpho achilles

'From next week we'll see 100s of big blue morphos (below) and owl butterflies in the butterfly house. These two fruit feeders are favourites with our visitors,' says Luke. Some pupae of moon moths are already in the hatchery and I personally can't wait to see these gorgeous creatures when they emerge.

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More and more butterfly species will appear through the coming months, and about 400 to 500 pupae arrive each week.

 

The fun, outdoor British garden area of the exhibition is designed to attract butterflies, and children. If you look carefully you may see some of the 58 species living in the UK and familiar to this region. Sniff out scents and herbs here and get great gardening tips. Kids will enjoy climbing up into the tree house and getting a better view of the garden.

 

Find out about the exhibition highlights on our Butterfly Explorers website when the exhibition opens next week.