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4 Posts tagged with the dodo tag
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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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It's just over one month since we opened our beautiful permanent gallery showcasing the Museum's 22 most prized objects and specimens. In that short space of time, 1,000s of visitors, including HRH The Duchess of Cambridge (and the little royal on the way) who opened the gallery, have already enjoyed Treasures in the new Cadogan Gallery. Many of you have also been voting for your favourite exhibit in the gallery, and in our new year Top 10 Treasures poll, being huge and hairy is stll a winner for Guy the gorilla, who's at Number 1...  (You can select each image below to enlarge it.)

Your top 10 Treasures

1. Guy the gorilla

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London Zoo’s much-loved resident, Guy, a western lowland gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla), remains as majestic and iconic as he was in his time. Guy stands proudly at the righthand entrance of the Cadogan Gallery, at the top of the Central Hall's grand staircase, welcoming visitors into Treasures. It's great to think that he is regaining the popularity he had in life over 30 years ago. Listen out for our podcast coming soon, telling Guy's unique story from childhood star to preserved treasure here at the Museum.

 

2. Blaschka glass models of sea creatures

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Glimmering away in the gallery at the other end to Guy, the 3 delicate Blaschka glass artworks of sea creatures are as enigmatic and eye-catching. They were made with impeccable accuracy using techniques no one has been able to replicate since. Giles Miller, Curator of Micropalaeontology, tells the story of how the Blaschka's went from cardboard box to Treasure on display in his own blog.

3. Dodo skeleton

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The dodo skeleton on show is unmissable. There are so few complete skeletons that we may never know exactly how they looked or lived. The dodo is one of the first widely acknowledged cases of human-caused extinction. It's fame was secured by Lewis Carroll in his book Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

4. Neanderthal skull

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This remarkable specimen in Treasures is the first adult skull of a Neanderthal ever discovered. They were our closest known relatives and this specimen helped begin the science of palaeoanthropology – the study of ancient humans.

5. Archaeopteryx fossil

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Archaeopteryx is the earliest known bird and this is the first skeleton specimen ever found. It is the most valuable fossil in the Museum’s collection. This is the type specimen of the species, the one to which all others are compared. So for many, the chance to see this Archaeopteryx in person is a special joy.

6 On the Origin of Species book

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We had to include this masterpiece in Treasures. It's an inspiration to view the rare first edition of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species. It is the most important book in biology, in which Darwin describes his theory of evolution by natural selection.

7. Great auk

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You might not all know it, but the great auk is one of the most powerful symbols of the damage humans can cause. The species became extinct not through habitat loss, but due to centuries of intense exploitation.

8. Alfred Russel Wallace's insects

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The gorgeous and diverse creatures in the insect case on display are from Alfred Russel Wallace’s personal collection. He co-discovered the theory of evolution by natural selection with Charles Darwin. He kept very few of the specimens he collected.

9. Barbary lion skull

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You can see why this lion was the jewel of the King’s zoo in the Tower of London 700 years ago. The skull and teeth are even more dramatic up close than we have already witnessed in photographs. It is also the oldest lion found in the UK after the extinction of native wild lions.

10. Hans Sloane's nautilus shell

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Exquisitely carved, it is easy to imagine why this perfect shell was one of Sir Hans Sloane’s favourite specimens. You can really appreciate the intricate details in the carving as you observe the exhibit. Sloane's huge collection forms the core of the British and Natural History Museums.

 

Make sure you experience these and the other 12 amazing objects in Treasures on your next visit to the Museum. Each is accompanied by scientific information and there is more to unearth on the digital screens in the gallery. Entry to the new gallery is free.

 

Vote for your favourite treasure online

Get a glimpse inside the Treasures Cadogan Gallery in our audio slideshow

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Rare bird and egg specimens collected more than 100 years ago take the spotlight in an intriguing new exhibition, the Secret World of Museum Science, opening today, 16 May, in the Natural History Museum at Tring's Gallery 2. The exhibition is free and runs until 6 November.

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Rare specimens in The Secret World of Museum Science exhibition opening today at our Tring Museum have helped scientists in their research. Left: Peregrine falcon egg similar to ones used to explain the dramatic decline of the species back in the 1960s. Right: Rockhopper penguin, Eudyptes chrysocome, feather samples have recently been analysed against live birds today to find out why there is a drop in population.

Our Tring Museum has the largest collection of bird specimens in the world and this new showcase will give us a glimpse not only of these historic, behind-the-scenes specimens and their stories, but of their importance to Museum research and science.

 

'The exhibition explores the relevance of what has been collected and identifed at Tring and demonstrates how the collection is being used for current scientific purposes' says Dr Robert Prys-Jones, head bird curator at Natural History Museum at Tring.

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Another highlight in the exhibition is a rare composite skeleton of a dodo (left) Raphus cucullatus collected during the 1860s from the Mascarene Islands in the Indian Ocean. It is seldom seen on public display.

 

I asked Alice Dowswell the exhibition's curator how things were going with the installation:

 

'We’ve been working closely with the bird group curators to install all the specimens, including the fragile dodo skeleton. Staff members have been testing out the video unit, watching clips of interviews with our bird curators talking about some of the projects they and our specimens have been involved in including clips about Darwin’s mockingbirds, fraud in the collections and peregrine falcon eggs.

 

'We’ve also been having fun with our dodo dig - brushing away sand to reveal model dodo bones and comparing them to the real thing on display nearby.'

 

The exhibition includes games and four videos of bird research, historic and current, featuring Darwin's mockingbirds research, the restoration of the Mauritian ecoystem where the dodo became extinct, the Meinertzhagen collection fraud and peregrine falcon egg findings.

 

You can see one of these online on our website. Watch the Restoring the Mauritian ecoysytem home of the dodo video.

 

Find out about visiting Tring Museum

 

More about our bird research at Tring

Enjoy some more photos of specimens featuring in the exhibition. Select them to enlarge.

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This Blue lorikeet parrot, Vini peruviana, from an island in southeast Polynesia in the Pacific Ocean, is one of  the oldest specimens in the Tring bird collection. It was probably  collected on one of Captain Cook's voyages between 1768 and 1779. That  means it's at least 232 years old.
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Wild budgerigars, Melopsittacus undulatus, are small, streamlined parrots, the wild ancestors to pet budgies. There are many such specimens in the Tring collections. Budgerigars can see ultraviolet (UV) light and have patches of plumage that glow under IV.

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Red kite, Milvus milvus, became extinct in England from 1871 but was introduced in 1989 in the Chilterns with a growing population today. This is the first specimen of this species in our collection from the Chilterns area since their re-introduction and was donated to the Museum after it was found dead on a roadside.

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This is the only example of the extinct
Fiji bar-winged rail, Nesoclopeus poecilopterus, preserved in spirit anywhere in the world, held in our collection.

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Clutches of cuckoo and host eggs, like the nightingale and hedge sparrow used to research how cuckoo eggs match the host eggs

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Beautiful tail feathers of the Bohemian waxwing, Bombycilla garrulus, carefully cleaned and preserved by our curators. This specimen is a recent addition to the collections and was presented to the Museum in the winter of 2010 after it collided with a window and died.

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Specimens like this Steller's sea eagle, Haliaeetus pelagicus, claw shows the structure of the foot, with bones and tendons still in place

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Next year's star attractions

Posted by Rose Dec 3, 2010

Last week we announced our big attractions for 2011 to the press.


It's going to be an exciting and busy year for us all - we'll have a new permanent gallery in January, our Sexual Nature exhibition opening in February, and the Age of the Dinosaur family blockbuster knocking us jurassic-wards from April.

 

The new permanent Images of Nature gallery will showcase over 110 images of, strangely enough, nature. Among the diverse paintings, illustrations, photographs and modern scientific images, will be 2 very different dodo paintings.

 

 

Watch this video and discover how Dr Julian Pender Hume's newly-commissioned painting of the dodo, Raphus cucullatus, differs from Roelandt Savery's 17-century masterpiece.

 

Both paintings feature together in the new gallery. You can see this dodo video and explore more fascinating dodo details at one of the interactive kiosks in the gallery.

 

hu-yun-500.jpgImages of Nature will also include a temporary exhibition of Chinese watercolours from the Reeves collection and some beautiful contemporary drawings, shown right, from our Shanghai-based artist-in-residence (inspired by the Chinese collection).

 

Discover more about Images of Nature

 

Moving on from the lovely to the lascivious, Sexual Nature opens just in time for Valentine's Day, on 11 February. As you can imagine we're all getting very steamed up about this one. And very happy to welcome Guy the gorilla to the centre stage of the exhibition - as a 'superb symbol of male masculinity' says the press release.

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Guy was last seen at the Museum on public display in 1982, having been donated to us in 1978, following his death earlier that year. Guy was a hugely popular character at London Zoo for over 30 years.

 

Find out about Sexual Nature and book tickets

 

Read the news story to learn more about Guy the gorilla and the Sexual Nature exhibition

 

We've only just announced Age of the Dinosaur - it doesn't open until the spring - but this is going to be BIG and much more of a themed adventure than some of our usual exhibitons. So watch out for more details.

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In the meantime, catch the current exhibitions before they close. Amazonia finishes next week on 12 December and Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year in early March next year.

Above: Guy the gorilla takes pride of place at our forthcoming Sexual Nature exhibition