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What's new at the Museum

2 Posts tagged with the animal_reproduction tag
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Our Sexual Nature exhibition peeps out of its gallery shell and darts onto the streets in August, with the help of the Q20 Theatre group's musical Snail Courtship Show on the South Bank.

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The Snail Courtship Show rehearsing here on the Darwin Centre Coutyard before moving to the South Bank. Select images to enlarge them

Snail courtship is one of the many weird and wonderful examples of animal mating rituals that are currently on display in our Sexual Nature exhibition.

 

'The courtship ritual of the snail can be an unusual affair,' explains the exhibition's Interpretation Developer Tate Greenhalgh. ‘Roman snails shoot darts at one another in s&m-style foreplay. These darts stimulate the partners and aid fertilisation.’

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Incidentally, Roman snails (right) - so called because it is believed that they were introduced into the UK by the Romans - are now an endangered species and have legal protection from collection, killing and trade here.

 

The live snail show performance at South Bank combines music, theatre and science to tell its sticky love story, and is an example of how the Museum is bringing the science of its exhibitions to life. Each performance runs for about 20 minutes.

 

At the show, lucky onlookers will get the chance to grab an exclusive 2-for-1 deal on tickets to the Sexual Nature exhibition.

 

You can catch the gastropod peep show on the South Bank by the Q20 Theatre group on:

 

  • Friday 12 August, from 15.00 - 22.00
  • Sunday 21 August, from 12.00 - 17.00
  • Monday 29 August, from 12.00 - 17.00

 

As well as the Roman snail, visitors to our Sexual Nature exhibition here can learn about a cacophony of other animal mating habits and discover the surprising scientific truth behind sex in the natural world .The exhibition contains frank information and imagery about sex.

 

The 2-for-1 ticket offer will be available to Snail Courtship Show audiences until the close of the exhibition on 2 October 2011. The tickets are only usuable on weekdays.

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As I write this blog, I see visions of kids everywhere in schools and nurseries sticking bits of glitter and paper flowers to collage cards, while many of us try to remember not to forget to send a card to our mums everwhere. Yes, it's Mother's Day on Sunday, but spare a thought for the other mothers in Nature.

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Elephas maximus to Elephas maximus minor, 'Where's my card? I told you an elephant never forgets'

Both the Indian elephant (above) and African elephant mums' pregnancies last about 22 months and a calf weighs around 120 kg at birth - twins are also common. Then there's the calf rearing and suckling, which is long and slow for 2 to 3 years - a task that falls entirely to the females. But all the females in a group are involved in a calf's upbringing and protection. Elephant mums are definitely worth making cards for.

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Sexual Nature exhibition's prolific ocean sunfish mum (left) and the oldest pregnant female on display: 375-million-year-old placoderm fish fossil (right). Select images to enlarge them

Orang-utan mothers spend 4 years caring for each offspring. Sperm whale mothers and their calves live together in groups called nursery pods. In striped hyena families, the females raise their offspring alone and definitely don't encourage long-term support from the males. And ocean sunfish (above) produce 300 million eggs each time they spawn.

 

if you're interested in knowing more of this mumsy stuff and how the female of the species end up becoming mums in the first place, then come along to our Sexual Nature exhibition.You'll also encounter the oldest internally fertilised mother. The pregnant placoderm fish fossil (above) on display in the exhibition gallery is 375 million years old!

 

See the Sexual Nature exhibition video trailer for more highlights

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And on Sunday if you're out enjoying the spring flowers, see if the bluebells are out near you and tell us in our just-launched bluebell survey

 

Read the latest news story about the bluebell survey