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7 Posts tagged with the extinction tag
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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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Great auk, great loss

Posted by Rose May 15, 2013

May is the month for remembering the greatness of the great auk and why its tale of extinction is one we should not forget. The flightless great auk, Pinguinus impennis, is one of the most powerful symbols of the damage humans can cause. The species was driven extinct in the 19th century as a consequence of centuries of intense human exploitation.

 

At a free talk here tomorrow afternoon, Museum scientist Robert Prys-Jones will explore the Life and Death of the Great Auk, with particular reference to the Museum's own iconic Papa Westray great auk specimen.

 

This celebrated Museum specimen, shown below left, is the only British example of this bird in existence. It was collected 200 years ago in May 1813 from the tiny island of Papa Westray, one of the outer Orkney Islands. The great auk talk is being webcast live for those of you who can't make it here to the Museum's Attenborough Studio.

 

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Left: The Museum's rare Papa Westray great auk.
Right: Specially commissioned great auk taxidermy model on show in our Extinction exhibition.

 

I spoke to our bird curator Jo Cooper before she set out for the great auk bicentenary festival being held in the Orkney Islands this weekend, 17-19 May. She explained a bit about the history of our treasured great auk specimen and the importance of the festival.

 

'I’m making a pilgrimage to the tiny island of Papa Westray where one of the Museum’s most iconic specimens was collected 200 years ago this month. The Papa Westray Great Auk was one of the last of its kind in Britain, and is the only known surviving British example of this bird which went globally extinct in the mid-1840s.

 

'The Papa Westray specimen was purchased by the British Museum in 1819, after its original owner, William Bullock, sold up his entire vast collection of natural history specimens and other curios in a sale lasting 26 days.'

 

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Fowl Craig on the island of Papa Westray in the Orkney Islands, home of the last British great auks. A pilrimage to this spot takes place during the great auk festival this weekend.

'Sadly, our rare specimen is now too fragile to travel safely, so the Museum and Site-Eye Time-Lapse Films have produced a 3D ‘virtual’ Papa Westray Great Auk so that people can still have an encounter with this historic specimen. The virtual auk will be premiered on the island that the original specimen came from, but we have plans to show it more widely later in the year.

 

'We hope that by helping tell the story of the Papa Westray Great Auk during this festival, people will have a greater understanding and appreciation of what has been lost forever from our British bird community and perhaps this will inspire a greater care of what we have.'

 

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You can discover more about the great auk's plight in our Extinction exhibition here at the Museum and get close to a specially-commissioned taxidermy model of a great auk diving. Or go on a Museum trail and find another great auk specimen on display (left) in our Treasures Cadogan Gallery.

 

Follow The Life and Death of the Great Auk webcast live

 

Visit the Extinction: Not the End of the World? exhibition

 

Discover more about the great auk on our website

 

Read about the Papa Westray great auk in our Treasures book

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Extinction's tigers wake-up call

Posted by Rose May 10, 2013

Tune in to Channel 4's Sunday Brunch programme this weekend between 9.30 and 12.00, to catch the Museum's Richard Sabin discussing a rare Tasmanian tiger specimen which he'll be showing the presenters, Tim and Simon.

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The last Tasmanian tiger pictured here died in Hobart Zoo, Tasmania in 1936.

As Collections Manager of Vertebrates at the Museum, Richard will be highlighting the importance and scientific relevance of our collections to extinction and conservation research and discussing our Extinction exhibition.

 

The Tasmanian tiger, also known as the Tasmanian wolf or thylacine, Thylacinus cynocephalus, is thought to have become extinct in 1936 - the last-known animal lived in Hobart Zoo, Tasmania. It's probable that humans contributed to this Australian marsupial's decline, but the precise reasons for its extinction are not certain.

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Richard Sabin, Collections Manager of Vertebrates, with one of his favourite zoological specimens - now a star attraction in the Treasures Cadogan Gallery - Guy the gorilla that is, not Richard!

 

Richard will also be talking about other exhibits and themes in the Extinction exhibition. One of the focal points of the exhibition is, of course, tiger conservation (Panthera tigris). With less than 5,000 left in the wild, this is an emotive subject, and one that many of us feel strongly about.

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Extinction exhibition's central display: a tiger and cub, with confiscated tiger fur coat.

 

So far, in the exhibition's tiger conservation poll, 68% of visitors have voted 'yes we should save the tiger,' while 26% have voted 'no, we should focus on another species,' and only 6% chose 'maybe, but only if it doesn't cost too much.'  What do you think? Leave a comment below.

 

If you don't catch the programme, it is likely to be on Channel 4's online player, 4oD, but there is also the exhibiiton to visit here and a series of special extinction-related free talks too. The next of these is on Monday, 13 May, and highlights Earth's Biggest Mass Extinction at 14.30. We'll be webcasting Thursday's The Life and Death of the Great Auk so you can watch that one from the comfort of your own home or during an early afternoon coffee break at work.

 

Other guests on the Sunday Brunch programme include former Spice Girl Mel C and comedians Danny Wallace and Jason Manford.

 

Find out more about the Extinction: Not the End of the World? exhibition

 

Browse our Recent extinctions web pages

 

Conservation projects and videos

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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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It’s one week to go until the Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2010 exhibition opens its doors to the public on Friday 22 October.

 

Today, as I write this post, the images are being installed in their new panel placements in the Museum’s iconic Waterhouse gallery.

 

This year the exhibition space has a more airy theme. Its 100 and more prize-winning images from the 2010 competition’s 18 categories are displayed in light panels. It’ll be interesting to see how this compares to last year’s dark, atmospheric ‘pavillion of shadows’ design.

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Peschak's giant female Aldabra tortoise that features in the exhibition's publicity

 

At the entrance to the exhibition gallery, you’ll meet Thomas Peschak’s giant Aldabra tortoise that appears in the main poster for the exhibition. It looks magnificent in the huge banner, towering from on high to greet visitors.

 

Here's how Thomas describes his mighty tortoise shot:

 

"Aldabra giant tortoises normally graze on 'tortoise turf', a blend of herbs and grasses that grows close to the ground in response to being cropped. Often, though, the tortoises will wander onto the beaches to eat washed-up seedpods. This female, who is probably at least 100 years old, regularly forages along the beach in front of a research station on Aldabra in the Seychelles. Tortoises are known to have made sea crossings between islands," says Tom, "and so I was pleased to be able to use the ocean as a backdrop. I lay in her path on the sand, using an extreme wide-angle lens. The moment I took the shot, I had to roll out of her way to avoid her clambering right over me."

 

Watch this space for the overall winners’ announcement which should be after midnight on Wednesday 21 October.

 

It's also worth mentioning that you can enjoy the exhibition After Hours every last Friday of the month starting on 29 October, excluding December.

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Amazonia... it's art

Posted by Rose Sep 30, 2010

Everyone's being asking me 'what is Amazonia?' So, rather belatedly, let me introduce you to the Museum's latest contemporary art exhibition which will be opening next week on Wednesday 6 October.

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More than 100 tiny toy animals adorn the exhibition's centrepiece boat sculpture, Madre de Dios - Fluval Intervention Unit

 

The Amazonia exhibition was commissioned by the Museum in our International Year of Biodiversity from artists Lucy + Jorge Orta who are known for their art projects with an environmental focus. The artists travelled to the Peruvian rainforest in 2009, joining a scientific expedition, and this inspired their bright and beautiful exhibition here.

 

I had a quick peek in the Jerwood gallery this morning. The artists are here (their studio is in France) busily installing their sculptures, photographs and video projection and it looks fantastic already. From huge decorative porcelain eggs and big bright aluminium bones (below) to gorgeous flower photographs and the centrepiece of the Madre de Dios boat installation with its 100 or more tiny animals, it bustles with life - and death - in the natural world.

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The large 2-screen video installation wasn't quite set up when I visited the gallery, so in the meantime, catch some extracts of the Amazonia video projection that we've just added to the website.

 

Bergit Arends, our Contemporary Arts Curator and organiser of the exhibition, tells me that this one is also special because it's the last to be staged in the Jerwood Gallery.

 

Catch Amazonia if you can, it's free and only here for a short while until 12 December. The Jerwood gallery is in Dinosaur Way just before you enter the Darwin Centre.

 

Watch out for more exhibition gallery highlights on the website next week.