Phew, what a week it has been, what with the media launch and then International Year of Biodiversity Day on Saturday 22nd May, it feels like we haven’t left the museum in a week!
As part of our launch the Museum commissioned a MORI survey into just how much British citizens know about our native species.
Well, the results were not surprising. Here is what the headlines sa.:
Less than a quarter (24%) of UK adults are able to correctly identify the common UK sycamore tree, according to a survey on behalf of the Natural History Museum, which launches the Angela Marmont Centre for UK Biodiversity today.
So we have some work to do in getting people interested in natural history – this is good – this is what we are here for! We all have a responsibility as part of society to respect and conserve our natural environments and all living creatures that this supports.
This is just what SH did in preparation for IYB day on Saturday. Armed with nothing more than a sweep net, a jam jar, and some insect repellent our intrepid entomologist headed off to the New Forest to see what he could find. He arrived on Saturday with all manner of beasts to show and tell as we opened our doors to celebrate International Year of biodiversity.
Anyone that came to IYB day would have met the irascible pair of very friendly Cockchafers (Melonontha melonontha) (who were determined to fly away) along with their cousins, the beautiful metallic green rose chafers (Cetonia aurata), one of the Clerid beetles, (Pyrochroa coccinea) which is bright red (the clue is in the name!), and a rogue spider, safely held in a sealed plastic cup, the woodlouse spider, (Dysdera crocata), which as the name suggests, eats woodlice, but is also partial to humans!
We had hundreds of people through the doors and there was lots to talk about, see and do. We were there, the Identification and Advisory service - of course - though we only received one butterfly for identification but did manage to tell anyone who stood still for long enough all about insects, spiders, bugs, whatever.
Our earth sciences experts were on hand to show off some of our British fossil collections, along with some extant relatives, and did some explaining about how we know what the soft body parts of say, the ammonite was like - we got some complicated questions!
Our resident botanist proudly showed off a British herbarium specimen of the Ghost orchid - see its heroic story here.
The OPAL team were also there and got lots of attention as they had very studiously been out pond dipping at the crack of dawn in our nature garden. We have a very healthy pond apparently, with good environmental indicators such as caddis fly larvae (who disguise themselves in a 'case' they make from bits of pond debris), tadpoles, leeches (eurgh!) flat worms, mayfly larvae, and it goes on...
Go to the OPAL website to join and take part (you get a free pencil!)
One person that realy stood out (nice shirt!) was the UK naturalist Chris Packham who came in for a chat, which was nice!