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What's new at the Museum

6 Posts tagged with the nights_at_the_museum tag
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Deadly delights at Halloween

Posted by Rose Oct 28, 2010

Ever heard the squeal of the Death's-head hawkmoth? As a Halloween treat, you can now.

 

Acherontia atropos, Death's-head hawkmoth in action

The Death's-head hawkmoth has one of the most devilish reputations of any insect, says moth expert Ian Kitching in this short video. One of the  reasons why we feature it as our special Species of the day on Halloween. Another reason, of course - aside from being large - is the moth's skull-like marking on its thorax which has contributed to its mythical status.

Get a sneak peak at Sunday's Death's-head hawkmoth, our Species of the day.

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Another frightening creature you can get to know better this Halloween is Teraphosa blondi, the Goliath bird-eating spider (pictured above), and the world’s heaviest spider. It usually feeds on insects such as crickets and beetles, but also eats small mammals, frogs and reptiles, injecting venom into its prey with its 20mm fangs. Nice.

 

Despite its formidable appearance, a bite from this tarantula species is apparently no worse than a wasp sting. Goliath tarantulas are often kept as pets.

 

Both these critters will get you in the Halloween mood, so browse our Species of the day at the weekend for more deadly details. The Goliath spider features on Saturday and the Death's-head hawkmoth on Sunday.
Explore Species of the day online

Halloween at the Museum

If you're looking for an excuse to avoid the local trick or treat brigade, then come to the Museum on Halloween and join our free Myths and Monsters of the Mediterannean event. You'll see the fossil that may have inspired the legend of the one-eyed Cyclops, and discover why the devil has horns. There are 2 events at 12.30 and 14.30 on the Sunday, 31 October.

 

Over the weekend, bring the kids and explore our Creepy Crawlies gallery and visit the Wildlife Garden. It's the last weekend the garden is open and there are bound to be some spiders about.

 

For adults there is Night Safari on Monday evening, 1 November, although I think it's now sold out. The lucky safari visitors with tickets will be treated to a night of wondrous spookification including albino bat specimen, cursed gems, scarab beetles and demonish cocktails at the bar.

 

Slime on.

 

Spider photo courtesy G. Beccaloni

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The massive Ice Age mammals that lurk in the recesses of the Central Hall, some giant worms and a gigantic gold nugget, these are all highlights of our last summer Night Safari tour on Monday 12 July.

Central-hall-left.jpg

 

Our fossil mammal expert, Adrian Lister, introduces the Ice Age glyptodon.jpgmammals on the night and gives safari visitors the rare chance to get closer to some of our most iconic Central Hall exhibits, like the Ilford Woolly Mammoth skull and tusks, below left, and our armadillo-like Glyptodon fossil, pictured right.

 

Upstairs in Central Hall, curator Emma Sherlock and her giant worms lend their charms to the Tree gallery, and mineralogist Mike Rumsey shares some golden moments in the Vault gallery. Museum botanist Sandy Knapp presents her top Museum pieces, Central Hall's botanically illustrated ceiling panels, and butterfly explorer Blanca Huertas reveals her favourite flutterers.

 

As before, Night Safari visitors can enjoy a drink and snacks at the bar before and after their exclusive tours of Central Hall. There's also a break in the middle of the tour.

 

Book tickets online for Night Safari on 12 July

 

Believe it or not, there was actually a proposal of marriage made - and accepted - in The Vault gallery at the last Night Safari in May, by one of the safari visitors. He'd rung the event organisers beforehand to arrange it and said afterwards: 'Not only was the Night Safari so cool, but finishing the night knowing that I will be spending the rest of my life with my girlfriend, is beyond happiness.' How sweet is that and what a place to do it, surrounded by all those gems.

 

And put this date in your diary. On 1 November, Night Safari returns for a Halloween special.

 

Back to one of July's highlights ... the Ilford Woolly Mammoth skull and tusks display in Central Hall, shown below, is something to behold. But the enormity of this Essex fossil doesn't really come across here. It's the only complete mammoth skull ever to be found in Britain.

Ilford-tusk-800.jpgilford-mammoth-model-collection.jpg

The Ilford Woolly Mammoth model, on the right here, is not on public display, but held in our Palaeontology collection at the Museum

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Did you know, an incredible 80% of the world's known species are insects and the UK has about 23,500 different types? Or that stick insects make the perfect pets?

leaf-insect-1000.jpg
'I won't scratch the furniture, please can I be your family pet?' Our Insects as Pets event is on Saturday 26 June

It's definitely the small things in life that matter this week. We join other organisations and groups around the country to celebrate National Insect Week, from 21 to 27 June. We have special events going on all week and visitors will be able to meet some of our insect experts and their creepy-crawly companions.

 

Highlights of the week include Thursday night's insect talk, Six-Legged Wonders: The Return on 24 June in the Attenborough Studio, where you'll hear from 3 Museum entomologists who reveal insect truths. The talk also features an insect trivia quiz and the bar is open for drinks outside the studio. Watch out for the deadliest insect, so deadly in fact, it has to be kept in 2 separate bags... and some edible ants. You need to book for the Six-Legged Wonders ticketed event.

 

rose-chafer-Cetonia-aurata-500.jpgMy favourite event planned for Saturday is the Insects as Pets talk, where you'll discover what lovable crawlers stick insects and giant cockroaches can be. So I'm assured. On Saturday, there's also pond-dipping in our Wildlife Garden.

 

Find out about National Insect Week events and activities

 

Read the news story about National Insect Week

 

For events around the country, visit the official National Insect Week website


Watch out for some rare six-legged beauties, like the endangered Rose Chafer beetle, pictured right, in our online Species of the day insect series.

 

Discuss insects in our popular bug forum

 

Click on the images to enlarge them.


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Aliens in the Attenborough Studio

Posted by Rose Apr 27, 2010

ufo-landing-red.jpgHelp us decide if we should be preparing to meet ET and aliens now, rather than later, at our Nature Live Night on Thursday 29 April

 

Is There Anybody Out There? is the subject of our Nature Live Night evening debate this week on 29 April and is a must for anyone interested in other planets and the possibility of extra-terrestrial life. Expect otherworldy topics on the agenda like the evidence (or not) for life on Martian meteorites, what will aliens look like, are aliens already here in a shadowy biosphere, Earth-like planets, and planetary protection.

 

We'll bring you together with astrobiologists and meteorite researchers to catch up with the latest news on the search for alien worlds. And we'll be debating how our actions in other worlds could affect life as yet undiscovered, as we ask the question 'should we actually be trying to find aliens'? Some, like Stephen Hawking, caution against this. See the recent BBC coverage of Stephen Hawking's warning of making contact with aliens.

 

The debate rockets off at 7pm in the Darwin Centre Attenborough Studio, and arrive at 6.30ish for a drink beforehand. The bar is open during the event. Book tickets (£6) online.


What would you tell an ET if you met one tomorrow? Come to the event and share your thoughts with other Earthlings.

 

Prepare to get spaced....

 

 

Grainy black and white image of supposed UFO, Passoria, New Jersey, right

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Museum treasures will be revealed on the exclusive new Night Safari tour

When we announced the first Dino Snores sleepover event in January this year, many adults were understandably miffed that the only way you could join in was if you accompanied a group of children. (After all, it is a children’s event.)

 

But now there’s something new and exotic for adults and it’s called Night Safari. The first safari will take place on 8 March. Expect all the adventure and atmosphere of a real wildlife safari, but here in the comfort and splendour of our iconic Central Hall, not to mention a bar.

 

Night safaris won’t be all-nighters, they’ll start around 6.30pm and end at 10.30pm, and they promise some rare treats.

 

On arrival at the Museum, there will be an introductory talk and safari visitors can enjoy the bar before the tours start (drinks can’t be taken on the tours for obvious reasons). Groups of 25 visitors will then join our Night Safari guides for their tours around 7ish, starting at different points in Central Hall.

 

Tour groups will explore both the Central Hall ground floor, featuring a stop at Dippy, our famous Diplodocus skeleton (below), and the upper galleries, including Minerals, the Vault and the giant sequoia tree trunk at the very top of the balconies.

dippy-long.jpg

On the tour, visitors will meet some of our leading scientists and researchers who’ll reveal and discuss their favourite, treasured specimens. Some of these ‘top five’ specimens are usually kept in our collections behind the scenes, so this is a really unique opportunity to get close to something extraordinary, with the expert on it at hand.

 

I’m told that at the March safari, one of the scientists' chosen specimens will be an awesome set of great white shark jaws and skin - presented by our well-known and respected fish curator, Ollie Crimmen.

 

To ease off the safari heat, there’s a 30-minute break in the middle of the tour. Tours finish around 9.45pm, so enough time for a last drink and chat before heading out from the Central Hall wildlife at 10.30, when the doors close.

 

If our Night Safaris are anything like the Dino Snores events, they are likely to sell out quickly, so book tickets online early. Night Safaris are planned for every 2 months on a Monday night and the next ones are confirmed for 10 May and 12 July.

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dino-snores-torches.jpg

Dinosaurs by torch light

It was bound to be a success of course. Torch-lit tour of the Dinosaurs gallery, sleeping in Central Hall next to Dippy (our famous diplodocus skeleton), a bugs’ talk and the new Sony PlayStation game to try out. A child’s dream, come true.

 

The first Dino Snores in association with Sony PlayStation was a sell-out, pretty much as soon as it was announced before Christmas, and attracted lots of media attention. On Saturday 16 January, about 200 over-excited kids descended on the Museum to experience a real Night at the Museum, and find out exactly what goes on when the dinosaurs should be getting their shut-eye.

 

dino-snores-boy-costume.jpgLIke the boy pictured left, who really got into the dino spirit, Mack Pegram, aged 9, was one of the lucky children there, he loved it:

 

"It was very very very very very very very very fun! And brilliant because there were lots of fun activities to do and I liked sleeping in the Central Hall because you can look up and see the diplodocus. My favourite activity was the Bugs Bite Back because they talked about loads of cool bugs that were poisonous and venomous. I definitely would like to go again."

 

And did Dippy, the 26-metre-long diplodocus skeleton, twitch at all as the children slept alongside, I wondered?

 

Event organiser, Terry Lester, filled me in on the spooky stuff: "Three of us, Matt, Beth and me stayed awake the whole night and kept an eye on Central Hall while everyone was sleeping. At around 3.30am I was looking towards Dinosaur Way and saw a shadowy figure run from the Dinosaur gallery entrance across into Human Biology. We knew it wasn’t anyone from Central Hall, so Matt and I grabbed our torches and in our socks (shoes were removed beforehand so as not to wake the sleeping hoards) and dashed to investigate. Slightly spooked we searched the darkened galleries, but to no avail. Not a soul to be seen (well, not a living one anyhow). We checked with the Control Room and as agreed, they had not been patrolling the ground floor of the Waterhouse building. Figment of a sleep-deprived mind or something more other-worldly?"

 

Ooooh, weird...

 

The whole occasion was filled with memorable highlights, as Terry describes:


dino-snores-central-hall.jpg"Seeing the kids entering the museum with such evident excitement (parents sporting resigned looks on their faces), hearing the cheers during the welcome talk, the friendly rivalry between the groups, the screams (of excitement, not terror) from the Dinosaur Gallery during the torch lit trails and the clapping as the lights went out in Central Hall at bedtime were just a few of them.

 

"Erica McAlister and TV host Nick Baker, who did a talk about bugs - had never met before doing their show, Revenge of the Mini Beasts, but you’d never have thought it seeing them in action, they looked like they’d been working together for years. Couldn’t quite see which one was the side-kick, but I think Erica came off marginally as the one in charge."

 

"The kids' favourites were the stories about the aggressiveness of killer bees, scorpions and caterpillars," recalls Erica, "specimens of which Nick happened to have hidden in his sleeping bag!"

 

The next Dino Snores is on 13 February and there are more to come. Adults, don't despair, you can get in free accompanied by 5-6 children, but stay close, because dinsoaurs and bugs are about...

 

Read the news story about the first Dino Snores. See what Erica McAlister who presented the bugs show has to say in her blog post.