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25 Posts tagged with the dinosaurs tag
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Science Uncovered's show stoppers

Posted by Rose Sep 27, 2013

The hour is fast approaching when we open our doors to the Museum's greatest show of the year on Friday, 27 September to mark the Europe-wide event of the year, European Resarchers' Night. Of course, Science Uncovered is much more than just a show, it gives visitors exclusive and extensive access to hundreds of scientists and our collections and research. But this year, in particular. there are some unmissable star attractions. A few are hot off the press.

 

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Must-sees at Science Uncovered on 27 September include a beautifully-presented Archaeopteryx fossil and hologram on show at the Extinction Science Station from 16.00-22.00 in Fossil Way. Image courtesy of The Munich Show.

 

Following its sensation at the Munich Mineral Show - and thanks to a private collector - we are showcasing a rare Archaeopteryx fossil (thought to be the 11th known example of Archaeopteryx) at the Extinction Science Station throughout the evening. In addition to getting a glimpse of the fossil up close, a hologram brings the Archaeopteryx to life. Alan Hart, Museum Collection Manager, hails it as 'an amazing specimen, especially in the way it is presented. And the hologram reconstruction is a really innovative way of examining it.'

 

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Watch the video of Archaeopteryx and its hologram unveiled at the Munich Mineral Show

 

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Satisfy your app-etite for dinosaurs at Science Uncovered. Catch T. rex on the prowl in the Darwin Centre, using an iOS or Android device. A massive Stegasaurus can be stalked in the Central Hall.

 

Excitingly, we will also be joined by digital dinosaurs roaming the Museum around the Central Hall and Darwin Centre atrium. But to see the 3D animated dinosaurs, you'll need to download the free Aurasma app on an iOS or Android device. Then watch and listen as a realistic-looking dinosaur strides into view, using augmented reality. Museum volunteers will be on hand to help out if needed. Once you've found a dinosaur, you can take a photo of your friends with it and tweet it using the hashtag #SU2013.

 

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We've just had news that the incredibly rare T. rex fossil (pictured above being unpacked in readiness), featuring in Dr Paul Barret's Dinosaur Extinction studio event at 17.00, will now make an appearance at the Extinction Science Station from 20.30-22.00. Remember, you'll need tickets for the free Attenborough Studio events, but they are on a first-come, first-served basis, so this is another way for you to see this incredible specimen if you don't make it to the talk.

 

Along with these big blasts from the past and other amazing highlights on the night, make sure you soak up some of the really cool and quirky stuff too.

 

Get more out of gin than you can imagine over at the Darwin Centre's Food station, use a seismometer to create your own earthquake at the Natural Environment station, examine sticky crime scene evidence (and we're not just talking blood samples) at the Forensics station, or peel away layers to see the intricate insides of specimens using the Insider Explorer Table and 3D Imaging unit in the Earth Hall. And much, much more all over the Museum.

 

Family-oriented activities kick off earlier in the day, so check the website for details.

 

food-soapbox-art.jpgThe ‘beautiful’ future of food: Soapbox Art speakers from the Royal College of Art divulge their creative culinary tactics.

 

Don't forget to stop a while in the Lasting Impressions gallery (near the Birds gallery) to hear what Soapbox Art speakers have to say about their creative tactics for the future of food and where babies will come from.

 

Download a map online, or grab one when you arrive, to plan your exploration and entertainment for the evening. Keep an eye out for the scientists wearing 'talk to me' badges on your travels.

 

Download the Science Uncovered map listing all activities and locations [PDF]

 

Find out what's on at Science Uncovered

 

Countdown to Science Uncovered blogs

 

Read the recent news story about what scientists will be confronting at Science Uncovered

 

Can't make it to the event? Keep in touch with what happens on Twitter via @NHM_Live and #SU2013

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Eight days to go and the Museum is starting to buzz with excitement about the biggest event of the year in our busy calendar. Stephen Roberts, lead co-ordinator, gives us a warm welcome and introduction to this year's fabulous Science Uncovered. Put 27 September 2013 in your diaries now.

 

'Every single day that the Museum is open there are usually scientists and researchers on hand to talk with our visitors and friends. But Science Uncovered will see an amazing 400 scientists joining in a Friday night opening with a difference.

 

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Above: Last year's Oceans Science Station was a jaw-dropping experience for many and beetlemania was rife at the Entomology Station. Both return for this year's Science Uncovered night on 27 September.  (With the beetles at the Forests Station this time.)

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'Our event is one of hundreds taking place in more than 35 countries on European Researchers' Night, all made free by the EU, and we are pulling out all the stops for this celebration of science.

 

As well as meeting the people behind ground-breaking discoveries at this unique event, you'll see masses of amazing specimens from our collections, normally carefully stored behind the scenes. Some live creatures too.

 

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The lower jaw of the first-ever T. rex skull discovered makes a rare appearance at Paul Barrett's Dinosaur Extinction talk at 17.00 (this talk is also BSL-interpreted.)

 

'Highlights not to be missed include the Dinosaur Extinction studio event revealng extremely rare T. rex remains that have never been on display anywhere in Europe before, and a piece of Mars from our collections that you can explore its insides at the Space Station, just as our researchers do.

 

These are two among hundreds of other amazing objects that could help answer big questions about life and indeed the solar system.

 

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Cave art and live creatures: among the many tactile experiences coming your way on the night.

 

'From creating your own cave art to linking-live with NASA scientists, or presenting your own weather forecast, touring our rare books library or trying our science-inspired cocktail - check out what's on at Science Uncovered on or website and download the map showing you where everything is happening.

 

'Or just come along and see what takes your fancy on the night. Have a think about the questions or puzzles you've always wanted to quizz a scientist about. There are even Science Fess Up tell-all sessions going on in the Central Hall if you're game enough. And you can tweet your photos and comments using #SU2013.

 

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Cool vibes and candid confessions at the Science Bar and Science Fess Up sessions...

 

'This exclusive interaction with our science and scientists is at the heart of Science Uncovered, but we also want you to have a great evening out in one of the most famous and historic venues in London.

 

'We've got a choice of 6 bars and the Restaurant open across the Museum's galleries offering delicious food and drink. As activities wind down from 22.00 you can chill out in the Science Bar which stays open with a DJ until midnight.

 

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Nocturnal Creatures at the Natural History Museum in Tring, Hertfordshire will be part of their festivities

 

'Our sister Museum at Tring in Hertfordshire is also joining in the Science Uncovered festivities and will showcase its latest bird research, with a chance to catch the Nocturnal Creatures exhibition open after hours too (above).

 

'About 1,000,000 people across Europe are expected to join in on the night. We'd be delighted if for you to come and be one of those million yourself!'

 

Keep up to date with Science Uncovered on the website

Download the map and activity details

Read blogs by our scientists

Find out about booking for BSL activities

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Rain or shine, it's half-term time

Posted by Rose May 25, 2013

As ever, there are heaps of things to do at the Museum over the half-term holidays and you don't even have to come inside the building to enjoy all of them. Just step into the outdoor Sensational Butterflies house and meet 100s of live ones (and it's warm in there), enjoy a coffee or ice cream by the lawn's cafe kiosk, or take a stroll in the lovely Wildlife Garden and its bustling ponds to meet London wildlife among the daisies and buttercups.

 

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Left: An awesome Atlas moth in the butterflies exhibition, snapped by our butterfly house manager. Why not take your own butterfly pics inside the exhibition or at home and enter our Pinterest competition?

 

On Saturday and Sunday, 1 to 2 June, the Wildlife Garden is the focus of our free Bat Festival weekend, which also spreads its wings into the Museum's Darwin Centre for extra displays and talks, so make some plans if you're a batty friend.

 

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Tadpoles, yellow rattle, buttercups and the thriving bee tree in our spring-filled Widlife Garden, which also hosts the Bat Festival on the weekend of 1 to 2 June. Below, batty action at last year's festival.

 

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Inside the Museum, there are over 30 wonderful galleries to explore and the chance to book in advance for the ever-popular Dinosaurs, as well as puppet shows, hands-on activities and investigative fun. Browse our What's on for kids section to get the best recommendations.

 

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Left: Fossil corals display in Dinosaur Way. Right: The roaring jaws of the sabre-tooth cat in the Extinction exhibition - look out for our 2for1 ticket vouchers for Extinction in the Museum.

 

For more grown-up stimulation, there's a choice of two major ticketed exhibitions, Sebastaio Salgado's Genesis and Extinction. Or you could drop in to one or more of the many free talks in our Attenborough Studio scheduled through the week. Starting Sunday 26 and ending on Wednesday 29 May, the talks include live-links to the Isles of Scilly where the Field work with Nature Live team are accompanying Museum scientists performing their research. The Treasures Cadogan Gallery is also a must for anyone who wants to get to the heart of the Museum in one gallery.

 

Volunteers week, 1 to 7 June, coincides with the half-term holiday break and you can get a look at some of the Indonesian fossil corals volunteers helped to prepare for research in a new display cabinet in Dinosaur Way. Or take the lift up to the Specimen Preparation Area in the Cocoon on 30 May to see our new volunteers actually at work.

 

Keep up to date with our What's on and What's on for kids pages.

Find out more about volunteering at the Museum

Read the Wildlife Garden blog

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Easter highlights at the Museum

Posted by Rose Mar 28, 2013

From spotting exotic butterflies in the just-opened Sensational Butterflies exhibition out on the Museum's East lawn and examining real beetles in the Darwin Centre to discovering the most perfect thing in the Universe - the egg, or is it chocolate(?) - in a free talk, there’s heaps on for all ages at the Museum over the Easter holidays.

 

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You can book free timed entry tickets for the Dinosaurs gallery if that’s what you’re planning to visit. But, if things get too busy in that area of the Museum, find your way to the Darwin Centre where kids will enjoy doing our Quest for the Curious challenge, and head over to the Red Zone on the other side of the Museum to enjoy the awesome Earth galleries and more amazing dinosaur displays in From the beginning (note, the earthquake simulator is offline at the moment while our Power Within gallery is closed for refurbishment).

 

 

Get a sneak peek inside the tropical butterfly house of Sensational Butterflies in the video above.


quest-curious-1000.jpgJoin in the Quest for the Curious challenges (above) at our week-long Easter free event for all the family.

 

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How about doing your very own dodo trail? You'll find this iconic creature features in quite a few places in the Museum, including in the highly topical Extinction exhibition, the Birds gallery and in our recently-opened Treasures Cadogan Gallery (there's one more place too, but I'll leave you to discover it).

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And look out for the 416 flower pots installation in the Images of Nature gallery as part of our India contemporary art exhibition.

 

Check our What’s on and What’s on for kids sections for the details of what to do during the holiday period, and follow NHM_Visiting on Twitter for updates on queues.

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It's just one week to go until our Extinction exhibition opens. As I write, installers and designers are frantically putting the finishing touches to the displays, visuals and lighting in time for its unveiling to the public on 8 February.

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The exhibition's tiger display - in the process of being installed - is sure to be one of the main attractions in our Extinction: Not the End of the World? exhibition opening in the Museum's Jerwood Gallery on Friday 8 February.

 

It's full steam ahead,' says Alex Fairhead, the exhibition's developer, who is very excited about the new slant this show will put on the subject of extinction.

 

Alex explains:

'Usually people only ever think of dinosaurs and dodos when they talk about extinction. In Extinction: Not the End of the World? visitors will discover the positive side to extinction and that the animals and plants we see today would not have survived if others had not first become extinct. There will also be opportunities to discuss modern conservation, see the conservation successes and failures, and consider whether we're now on the verge of the next mass extinction.’

 

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Just why did the dodo die out, but not the leatherback turtle? This and many crucial life-and-death conundrums will be explored in our Extinction exhibition. This new dodo reconstruction has been made especially for the exhibition based on current scientific research.

 

'Understanding extinction underpins all of the scientific work of the curators and researchers at the Natural History Museum and is crucial to discovering more about the evolution of animals and the natural world.' said Alex.


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Rustic wood reclaimed from a 150-year-old cotton mill is the fitting theme of the exhibition's design.

 

And it's not just the array of creatures featuring in the great story of extinction and survival that is impressive, but the design of the show itself. The design of the exhibition has taken the subject matter of the exhibition to heart:

'As you can see,' describes Alex, 'the rustic recycled-wood furniture that has recently been installed, looks fantastic. Minimising our use of natural resources was key to the exhibition’s design. The reclaimed wood was originally used for the flooring in a 150-year old cotton mill in Lancashire. If you look closely you can still see where the joists were.'

 

From the gigantic skull of Chasmosaurus belli - one of the last land-dwelling dinosaurs to become extinct - that greets you at the gallery entrance, the new scientifically-accurate dodo, the awesome tiger, giant elk antlers, to the cool interactive 3-console Extinction game and more, this is an exhibition not to be missed by those who care about the natural world.

 

Find out about the Extinction exhibition and book tickets online

 

Glimpse some of the featured species in our Exhibition image gallery

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The Earth Hall on Science Uncovered night last month. Bustling with cosmic and creative activity, cutting edge technology and prehistoric wonders. More pictures below.

 

Tonight, Friday 26 October, is a very special night for 10 lucky science and natural history fans, as they will be spending an exclusive evening sleeping over at the Museum.

 

At 28 September's Science Uncovered evening we ran a discovery trail called Stamped on Science and 5 attendees who completed the trail were drawn from almost 200 entries and won themselves, and a guest, an amazing overnight experience in our hallowed Central Hall, and tonight is the big night.

 

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One of the many Stamped on Science-ers collecting a stamp on the night.

After they've enjoyed all we have on offer as part of our monthly Friday Lates with MasterCard, the 10 attendees will begin their unforgettable experience.

 

Museum scientists Dr Adrian Glover and Dr Victoria Herridge will guide them on exclusive behind-the-scenes tours and bring out specimens not normally on display to the public while they talk about their research.

 

After a night's sleep alongside the giant sequoia, in the upper Central Hall gallery, the lucky 10 will enjoy a continental breakfast under our iconic Diplodocus skeleton, Dippy. They'll then be taken on a tour of our Zoology Spirit Building and get early access to our ever-popular Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2012 exhibition.

 

Sounds like a lot of fun for those lucky 5 winners and their guests, who were just a fraction of the 9,077 visitors we had through the South Kensington doors (another 554 attended Tring) for our third annual Science Uncovered festival last month.

 

More than 500 scientists, staff, volunteers and visiting experts helped make the event possible and we're sure everyone who attended will agree it was a wonderful evening.

 

Have a look at some of our favourite pictures and see for yourself. Select the images to enlarge them.

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At the Space Station comets were re-created using (mostly) household ingredients: dry ice, gravel (for the carbonaceous materials), worcester sauce (for the organic materials) and Mr Muscle (for the ammonia).

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The skulls and other remains of our ancient ancestors at the Human Origins Station were a talking point for lots of visitors who chatted to Museum experts on the subject of where we came from.

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Making your own cave art was a popular activity and resulted in a colourful display of familiar images and more contemporary hands-on contributions.

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A state-of-the-art digital specimen table uncovered layers of a mummified cat (pictured) and Martian meteorites with the swipe of a finger.

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Discovering the magic of minerals and their structures

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The incredible palaeontological specimens at the Extinction Station station were a hit.

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Scientists enjoyed the chance to chat about their research and show off their specimens, including here at the Ocean Stations (above and below).

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Sea silk, one of the strange underwater specimens on show at the Oceans Station.

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The Antarctica Science Station gave people a taste of the cold conditions scientists, researchers and explorers experience at the South Pole.

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Many of the younger visitors could be found experimenting at being a vet and treating some very cuddly (toy) creatures at the Vets Station.

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Behind-the-scenes tours gave visitors the chance to step into the role of scientist in our labs.

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The tour of the Museum's library proved popular for its special access to historic artwork and texts.

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Our roaming animal handlers let those brave enough hold real live animals.

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The Food Station was as colourful and tasty as we would expect.

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The Sopabox Art sessions attracted curious listeners, especially the discussion about breeding a mouse with the DNA of Elvis.

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Science Fight Club in full sway.

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The night was made all the merrier by the specially-concocted Science Uncovered cocktail, the Pollinator.

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And who found out what this hairy brain-like mystery speciman was?
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Where can you: create your own comet with a space expert or examine a large land snail back from extinction? Get close to rare cave art statuettes and Martian meteorites outside of their glass display cases? Look a fearsome Dracula fish in the face or marvel at a giant clam? Witness a blood spatter analysis by the police? Let a scorpion sit in the palm of your hand? Examine the insides of a mummified cat on a virtual autopsy table? Get inside the colon of a cow as a virtual vet? Take a tour of the largest natural history art library in the world? Or challenge a leading scientist on the latest discoveries about climate change as you sip on a cocktail? And all during a single night.

 

At our brilliant Science Uncovered festival from 16.00 to 23.00 on Friday 28 September, you can do every one of these things and more ... and also try to win your very own private sleepover here at the Museum.

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The Space Station where vistors can make comets and see the Tissint meteorite from Mars, and the Forests Station with its butterflies, beetles and moth displays are sure to attract the crowds at Science Uncovered. Select images to enlarge.

Stephen Roberts, Science Uncovered's co-ordinator, gives us a hint of this year's highlights:

 

'We have a little under two weeks to go until the biggest evening event in the Museum's fantastic yearly calendar - Science Uncovered. This year, in keeping with the summer theme of pushing limits and new records, we will see new science, new ways to take part and new specimens coming out – all for one night only in this unique festival of science, made free thanks to the EU.

 

'On the evening of Friday 28 September, more than 350 researchers will be in our galleries as part of European Researchers’ Night that takes place across 32 countries and gives us unprecedented access to world class research and the people who make it happen.

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Meeting a Dracula fish face to face - it may be tiny but it's huge for taxonomists - at the Evolution Station, and witnessing the police analyse a blood splatter at the Forensics Station will be other popular highlights.

'In a year that has seen science stories making such a splash it is terrific to have the chance to actually meet the people involved and get your hands on some of their work. From mini-mammoth remains discoverd in underground Cretan caves to amazing Martian meteorites and a live link to CERN's Large Hadron Collider control room or the chance to live-chat with researchers in Antarctica, there has never been a better time to meet the people at the cutting edge of discovery.

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At the Antarctica Station you can step inside a real polar tent and try out expedition equipment, and in the Attenborough Studio we video-link live to the control room of CERN's Large Hadron Collider.

'As well as the science and scientists, some of the most precious specimens from our collections will be brought out for this rare occasion, and there's the opportunity to delve behind the scenes into our collections on exclusive tours.

 

'And, of course, if you would rather get your hands dirty you could help build a comet, recreate cave art or extract your own DNA, to name but a few of the more practical aspects. Not least of which for a Friday night, we have a record breaking 7 bars and, by popular demand, our delicious Restaurant will be open till late.

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Homo sapiens and Neanderthal skulls alongside cave art figurines, rarely shown to the public, will be at the Human Origins Station, along with the researchers who more than anyone can answer the questions as to who we really are...

'Our Museum at Tring is also taking part with a fantastic Science Uncovered night in Hertfordshire, with the promise of curators giving us insights into how to prepare bird skins and skeleton specimens, shows of feather painting and natural history art illustration, and the chance to meet live creatures with keepers from Amey Zoo. Local beer and barbecue-style food are on the menu too. Check our Science Uncovered at Tring pages for more information.

 

'If you have ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes of the Natural History Museum in South Kensington or at Tring this is the night to come along and see for yourself.'

 

Find out what's on at Science Uncovered in London

 

Download the Science Uncovered map to see where things are and to plan your evening in London

 

See what's on at Tring's Science Uncovered

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The Museum played a poignant part in a heart-warming story last week when we invited the Greene family in early on Friday morning for an exclusive, early-morning skate through the Central Hall and Dinosaur Way on their Heelys, fulfilling one of their late mum's wishes.

 

The Greenes' skate through the Museum was filmed and featured on ITV's This Morning show as a follow-up to Mother's Day and an earlier interview with them about their incredible family struggles and mum's moving memoir. You can watch it on the video clip below.

 

 

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The Greene family's skating adventure here was one of the things on their 'mum's list'...

 

In 2010, at  the age of 38, Kate Greene discovered that she had terminal breast cancer. Before passing away, she made a list of  things that she had wanted to do and that her husband and their two young sons should do after she'd gone. The wish list of over 100 things has become immortalised in the bestselling book Mum's List, (right) written by her husband, Singe.

 

Two years on from her death, achieving some of the things on their mum's wish list has helped the family to remember and celebrate their beloved Kate. Along with their recent Heelys skate here, they've already snorkelled through the corals of Egypt's Dead Sea, visited Lapland and are still buying orange Club biscuits every time they go down the shops - Kate's favourite!

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The Museum was delighted to welcome all the Greene family (dad Singe, sons Finn, left and Reef right pictured above) to skate in the Central Hall and Dinosaur Way last week for the ITV's This Morning film feature and to be part of the Mum's List story. Select images to enlarge them.

Dad Singe says of their visit:

 

'It was very emotional for us to tick off one of the items on Kate's List on Friday. The museum was so lovely and made us all feel really welcome. Finn preferred going up and down the corridors rather than around the dinosaur as the floor was smoother! To have that opportunity to not only tick something off the list, but in such style at the Natural History Museum in London was completely phenomenal. I can't thank the Natural History Museum and This Morning enough for making that happen. I've been smiling ever since.'

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We wish the Greene family the very best of luck in achieving lots more on their mum's list in the future.

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Planet Dinosaur may have finished its first airing on BBC One, but don't fret, you can follow up the jaw-dropping excitement here as the Planet Dinosaur Season tour stomps into the Museum for the school half-term holidays from 24 to 30 October. (I still can't get over that bizarre Hatzegopteryx flying monster with a flat-iron-thingy on its head in the final episode!)

 

For starters, next week we are showing episode one and its Spinosaurus star (below) on the multi-screens in the Attenborough Studio twice daily. You can drop in to a Planet Dinosaur film screening morning or afternoon, Monday 24 October to Sunday 30 October.

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Planet Dinosaur's Spinosaurus (meaning thorn lizard) giant. At 17 metres, possibly the biggest killer ever to walk the earth, this beast dominated the first episode of Planet Dinosaur. Using CGI and cutting-edge graphics, narrated by John Hurt, the 6-episode BBC series looked at the new dinosaur discoveries over the last two decades.

If you fancy building a Spinosaurus yourself, then join our Build a Dinosaur events running each day over half-term week, from Monday 24 October to Sunday 30 October.

 

Piecing together realistic spinosaur bones onto a frame - including the spine, vertebra, head, jaw, skull and so on - each Build a Dinosaur group will be given an instruction guide and DVD to help work out what goes where, and get the chance to be palaeontologists at work. You have about 25 minutes to build your dinosaur, and there are other fun things to do and explore in the gallery, including the BBC's new online game.

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At the Buid a Dinosaur daily activities we're running at half-term, children over 7 and adults can join groups in the Marine Invertebrates gallery to make a large-scale, 3-metre Spinosaurus dinosaur skeleton model.  Tickets are free, but advance booking is required.

There are several dino build sessions each day, but you need to book your free Build a Dinosaur activities in advance online.

 

Discover more about Spinosaurus in the online Dino Directory

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Interestingly, not many actual Spinosaurus bones have been found, so the British-found Baryonyx fossil remains were used, along with other more stylised dinosaur body parts, as templates for the skeleton you get to build.

 

Baryonyx is intriguing because it's the most complete spinosaur skeleton ever found and so has been really important to recent research on these fish-eating dinosaurs. And Baryonyx was the first-known dinosaur to like eating fish.

 

Learn more about the Baryonyx discoveries in our new video online

 

Right: Cleaning Baryonyx in the Dinosaurs gallery during the summer refurbishment

You can see a life-size skeleton cast of Baryonyx in the Dinosaurs gallery towards the end of the gallery and some fossil bones from the dig where it was found. I highly recommend this section of the newly-refurbished gallery, which was closed for modernisation and cleaning in the summer.

 

As well as the shining skeletons, revitalised exhibits, and more atmospheric T.rex pit, the refurbished Dinosaurs gallery boasts new graphics and many updated visual displays. (Tip, if you go early in the morning, there's more chance to avoid any potential holiday queues.)

 

Visitors to the Central Hall will also be able to see another of our famous dinosaurs in a new light on their half-term visit.

 

The 300 or more bones of our iconic Diplodocus skeleton in the Central Hall - known affectionately as Dippy - are being lit up in different colours as part of our I Love Dippy appeal to renovate the Central Hall. With a text or kiosk donation you can choose from a range of colours and even get Dippy to roar.

 

Below: One of the Central Hall Light up Dippy shows you may witness over half-term if you're in the Museum.

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There are lots more free family activities planned over half-term, including puppet shows, gallery characters, the Animal Vision show, and even the sheep are staying on in the Wildlife Garden for the week. Enjoy.


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Following the amazing success of last year's event, we're gearing up for our second Science Uncovered festival on Friday 23 September.

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The Museum's Science Uncovered event celebrates European Researchers' Night in London, and we join over 300 other cities across Europe in our festivities.

 

This year looks set to be on a much grander and more impressive scale than in 2010. We're opening a lot more of the Museum on the night. The dazzling array of shows, discussion opportunities, behind-the-scenes tours and fun activities such as Crime Scene Live and Science Fight Club, will reveal just how varied and cutting-edge our scientific research is here.

 

To avoid disappointment through some activities being over-subscribed on the night, you can pre-book tickets in advance. The evening is free to attend and all the activiities are free. Even if you don't pre-book, there are lots of things to drop-in on and enjoy during the evening and some family activities that start in the late afternoon.

 

I asked Stephen Roberts, the Museum's Nature Live team manager, who's masterminding this science extravaganza to tell us more:

 

'This year's Science Uncovered is a mind-boggling realisation! There are hundreds of different opportunities for visitors to spend time with some of the world's greatest scientists who are coming out, for one night only, in the stunning setting of the Museum at night, and over a drink too.

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A star attraction at the Zoology Science Station in Fossil Way is sure to be the Tasmanian tiger cub specimen held in our collections. The above is a mounted adult specimen of the now extinct Tasmanian tiger.

'Two hundred of our own scientists are joined by over 100 other researchers from around London whose expertise ranges from mammoths to Mars, phytoplankton to philosophy and surgery to spiders. There is, quite literally, something for everybody.

 

'As well as the amazing objects coming out of the collections for the first time, like the now extinct Tasmanian tiger (pictured above) an unprecedented 92 tours will take visitors to some of our favourite places and spaces in and around the Museum.

 

'The word unmissable is bandied about in the media, but if ever there were a time to use it for something happening at the Museum, this is it!'

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Meteorites like Tamdakht above, which fell in Morocco 2008, are helping our scientists reveal the secrets of our solar system. The meteorite is on show at Science Uncovered's Space Station in the Museum's Red Zone.

Dr Michael Dixon, Director of the Natural History Museum says: 'We’re looking forward to welcoming even more people to this year’s event [about 7,000 visitors came in 2010], and inspiring them to take a fresh look at a subject they thought they already knew.'

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So with five bars open and over 150 activites to join, it should be a great night out.

 

Have a look at our website to find out what's on. And if you're nearer Hertfordshire than London, our Tring Museum is also joining us on the night with its own celebrations.

 

See what's on at Science Uncovered at the Natual History Museum, London

 

Find out what's on at Science Uncovered at the Tring Museum

 

Book online for Science Uncovered ticketed events

 

You can also join our Science Uncovered community online now to see what scientists are preparing to discuss on the night and for more news and views.

 

Right: One of the Museum tours at Science Uncovered takes visitors into our Conservation Unit, pictured here, where you'll see how we mend everything from broken bones to casts and books.

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On 20 July 2011, we celebrate the 207th birthday of Sir Richard Owen, the driving force behind the creation of the Natural History Museum, which during his time was called the British Museum of Natural History.

 

It was in 1856 that Owen became the first Superintendent of the British Museum's natural history departments and immediately began to campaign for a new museum dedicated to natural history. The rest is history.. well, natural history to be exact.

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Portraits of the Museum's founding father and inventor of 'dinosaurs', Sir Richard Owen (1804-1892) as a young man and later on in life

Sir Richard Owen was one of the most important scientists in history, but many may not know his name. Besides being the founding father of our Museum, he achieved many great things in his long life, from coining the word 'dinosaur' to revolutionising the study of animal anatomy and creating the life-size Crystal Palace dinosaurs that we can still see today (pictured below).

 

Without him the world of natural history and the Museum would be very different. During the height of his power he was a celebrity of Victorian England and even gave the Queen's children biology lessons.

 

But Owen was also a controversial figure. His gifts to science and the country brought him incredible fame and power. With these came enemies. His manipulative and hostile personality didn't gain him favours and his rivalry with Darwin and Darwin's supporters was well-known. Later on, his reputation suffered as allegations of taking credit for other scientists’ work abounded.

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After his death, his legacy was forgotten and it has only been in the last two decades that his story has been revived.

 

Join us on Wednesday 20 July at 14.30 in the Attenborough Studio for a special Nature Live talk celebrating Sir Richard Owen's birthday. We'll rediscover exactly what Owen did for us, explore his life and delve into why he is still controversial today.

 

Left: Admire our statue of Sir Richard Owen in the mezzanine gallery behind the Central Hall when you next visit. (Turn left at the top of the grand Central Hall staircase.)

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Right: Dinosaur models sculpted by Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins working closely with Joseph Paxton and Sir Richard Owen, were installed in the world's first dinosaur park which opened at Crystal Palace Park in 1854.

 

Find out more about Sir Richard Owen online

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Yes today, our most iconic and much-loved Central Hall Diplodocus dinosaur display is 106 years old! And looking good on it too.

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Diplodocus carnegii in the Central Hall. The famous skeleton cast is 26 metres long and has 356 individual bones. Select image to enlarge

Thanks to King Edward VII and the Scottish-born millionaire Andrew Carnegie, Dippy - as our 26-metre-long sauropod skeleton plaster cast is affectionatey known here - was unveiled at 1pm in the Museum on 12 May 1905.

 

It was the first full skeleton of a sauropod dinosaur to go on display in the world and understandably caused a stir. Sauropods were the very large, plant-eating dinosaurs, with famously long necks and tails that lived about 150 million years ago in the Late Jurassic Period.

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Diplodocus means 'double-beam' which refers to the shape of some of the lower tail bones, called chevrons. Although there are estimations that Amphicoelias is the longest dinosaur, Dippy is still the longest dinosaur from a completely known individual.

 

A recent Museum book about Dippy written by our dinosaur expert Paul  Barrett (along with Polly Parry and Sandra Chapman), opens with this:

 

dippy-book-angle-drop-800px.jpg''Dippy is not a real skeleton, but an exact plaster replica of fossilised  bones found in the badlands of Wyoming, USA, and now housed in the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Pittsburgh. The London Diplodocus was first revealed to an astonished public in 1905 and became an instant media star, depicted in numerous newspaper cartoons and news reports. Dippy continues to enthral the public and has even had a  starring role in movies and TV shows.'

 

According to the book, visitors often ask how to pronounce Diplodocus. As the name is a combination of two Greek words, it should sound like 'dip-low-dock-us' with the emphasis on the 'dip' and the 'dock'. However, there are lots of variations on this, ranging from 'dip-low-doe-cus' to 'dip-lod-oh-cus'. I'm still not sure myself, which is probably why a lot of us just stick with Dippy.

 

Dippy: the tale of a museum icon is a great read, and is on sale in the Museum shop and our online shop.

 

Read all about Dippy's 106 years here at the Museum in the latest news story


Other dinosaur delights for our visitors and featuring animatronic models are the Age of the Dinosaur summer exhibition and the Dinosaurs gallery.

 

Find out lots of fantastic facts about Diplodocus on our Dino Directory Top 5 fact file.

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At the heart of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site is Dorset's Lyme Regis. One of the most famous fossil collecting sites in the world and the home to the famous fossil hunter, Mary Anning. And this bank holiday weekend, it hosts the popular annual Fossil Festival.

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Lyme Regis Fossil Festival, 29 April to 1 May, on the seaside town's celebrated Jurassic Coast hosts another colourful festival parade, right, like past years.

This year's 3-day bank holiday festival is themed Marine Parade and focuses on the undersea world on our doorsteps.

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Our Museum experts will be there in force setting up in the free Grand Marquee, with displays of fossils and other natural history exhibits (pictured right). Among their offerings willl be the chance to sieve for shark's teeth, pan for gold, and have a go extracting some DNA from fruit. (DNA extraction at last year's event, pictured left)

 

I managed to catch Martin Munt, one of palaeontologists attending, just as he was just arriving yesterday. He told me: 'We've just arrived in a sunny and welcoming Lyme Regis, the marquees are up and I'm looking forward to another fine year at the fossil festival. Colleagues from across the Museum should start arriving tomorrow. I plan to visit Monomouth Beach at dawn, to look for some fresh finds for our table of fossils.'

 

Martin adds: 'We're very pleased to be showing our new model of the dinosaur Baryonyx for the first time. And visitors can also discover sea life collected from the shores this morning.and learn all about earthworms.'

 

Martin joins other eminent Museum scientists including Professor Chris Stringer on Saturday, 30 April, for additional talks.

 

The free fossil festival offers plenty of fossil walks, rock pooling, and nature walks that get you out onto Lyme's famous beaches, and the Fossil Fair, as well as a programme of talks and performances in the Marine Theatre. It's a great family event for all ages and especially for fossil fans.

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Looking at bugs with Alessandro Giusti, Museum entomologist, at last year's festival

Have a look at the Museum's fossil festival event page.


Read our latest news story about the Lyme Regis Fossil Festival over May bank holiday weekend

 

Find out the full programme of what's going on over the weekend at the main Fossil Festival website

Fossil wonders at the Museum and online

If you're in London, visiting the Museum, you can join in our Family Earth Lab morning sessions for hands-on fossil action. Or visit the just-opened Age of the Dinosaur exhibition for some of the biggest fossils around.

 

Find out more about fossils online on our website and enjoy the new pages: the Fossil hunting guide, Fantastic fossils, How to be a Palaeontologist. And examine the extinct Coelophysis in augmented reality

 

There's also a great article by Martin Munt on the Jurassic Coast and the festival in our latest copy of Evolve magazine which you can buy in the Museum or online.


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Pretty much everything in the Age of the Dinosaur exhibition, which opened today, is big.

 

Huge graphic timeline panels, vast silhouettes of prehistoric creatures, tall palm-like trees, giant skulls and teeth, and of course, towering animatronic dinosaurs. I feel sure this journey back into a world more than 65 million years old is going to be a big hit through the summer months with visitors young and old.

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Children stare in wonder at the 1.5 tonne Tarbosaurus. The last but certainly not the least, animatronic beast in the Age of the Dinosaur's Jurassic zone. This fearsome T.rex twin lived about 70 million years ago.

But there are many smaller wonders in this exhibition to look out for. Weird-looking bugs and insects nestling in the fern-filled Jurassic swamp and rocky Cretaceous desert. Dinosaur eggs - one is actually hatching - that are guarded by an Oviraptor and Protoceratops. Delicate fossil bones. Smells and sounds bouncing around. And snippets of amazing scientific facts and research that even the most hardcore dino boffins may not be familiar with.

 

Sandy Clark, our Visitor Services manager told me about the opening day which happens to be Good Friday: 'The queues in the morning at the Red Zone's ticket desks were probably the longest we've ever had, so there's a real interest in this exhibition. By about 3pm we had sold out. And then we were busy putting up signs to warn people. We actually sold about 2,000 tickets on the day. We had a few refunds I heard, but this was only because children got too scared and had to leave!'

 

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One of the huge evolutionary graphic timelines you'll encounter as you start your exhibition journey.

The exhibition gallery is arranged into two main immersive habitats, the Cretaceous and the Jurassic zones, with surrounding and central areas that showcase many spectacular specimen displays, images, fact panels and interactive tables and an underwater CGI film.

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Jurassic zone's, animatronic Archaeopteryx, the earliest known bird.

There are six roaring animatronic dinosaurs and one dino-bird. In order of who you'll meet first, they are: Camarasaurus and Archaeopteryx, both in the Jurassic zone; moving into the Cretaceous zone, there's Protoceratops with Velociraptor, who face Gallimimus, and finally round the corner, still in the Cretaceous zone, are Oviraptor and Tarbosaurus.

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Cretaceous zone's Protoceratops guards its eggs from the approaching feathery Velociraptor. Tarbosaurus is a shadowy threat in the distance.

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A spectacular Protoceratops skull. There are about seven dinosaur skulls to examine in the exhibition displays

Among the exhibits, you'll find some great interactive challenges. At the Dig It Up and Examine It tables you can piece together the evidence of how we know what the Jurassic and Cretaceous worlds were like. Also check out the kiosks, pictured below, before you leave for the chance to make an online dinosaur scrapbook. If you keep your ticket you can continue your dinosaur and fossil exploration at home on your computer.

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Examine fossils or create your own dinosaur scrapbook at one of the fun interactive tables

Enjoy it. And Happy Easter. You can book exhibition tickets online

 

Find out more about the Age of the Dinosaur exhibition

 

Oh and I'm kinda chuffed that it's my 100th What's new blog on the same day Age of the Dinosaur opened.

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We held three special previews for the Age of the Dinosaur exhibition on Wednesday, 20 April. As you can imagine, it was a pretty frantic day for all involved. There was a fab response and lots of photos too.

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Cheeky Ben Brockman (actor Daniel Roche) star of the Outnumbered TV comedy series, finds his rightful place in front of the exhibition's roaring animatronic Tarbosaurus at the special preview on Wednesday night.

Press and media came first thing in the morning armed with film crews and cameras. Some of you may have caught some of the great coverage in the press and on TV yesterday.

 

Mid-morning, for the first time we invited some of our Twitter followers along with their families to share their thoughts on the exhibition.There was some enthusiastic feedback. Here are some of their comments:

 

'One word 'wow'.

'I'm 27 and I feel 7 years old  all over again this is amazing'

'Mac’s favourite part... Dinosaur poo'.

 

The video review by Euan of the DadTalk blog really sells it for parents of young kids I think. And we enjoyed this blog post and a great set of photos on Flickr.

 

Our thanks to all our Twitter guests who attended the #nhmdino event for their enormous enthusiasm and support. You can read more of what they had to say here on Twitter.

 

Then came the special evening preview where celebrities and children leapt at the chance to appear in a roaring session in front of our biggest and most ferocious animatronic in the exhibtion, Tarbosaurus.

 

Emily Smith, our Head of Communications, says: 'It was a fabulous evening with plenty of fun from dino snacks, a swamp lucky dip to piñata bashing. I was quite scared at first but my mind was put to rest when I realised there were responsible palaeontologists in charge of the dinosaurs.'

 

Read the news story about the Age of the Dinosaur exhibition opening

 

Enjoy the brilliant reviews from some of the kids who also joined the preview night in this video. My favourite is: 'I really like the roboticals'.

 

See some more celebrity photos from the preview night. Select the images to enlarge them

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Comedian Bill Bailey goes rrrrr

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Olympic gold medallist Denise Lewis OBE goes rrrrrr

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TV presenter Gail Porter and her daughter go rrrrrrr

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Actor John Hannah goes rrrrrrrr

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Actor Toby Stephens grrrrins

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