Thursday 23 June 2016

Visit to the Natural History Musem in London - part I

Today I decided to visit the Natural History Museum in London. I've seen it a few times before, but never bothered to take any pictures. It was nice to see again the stuff there, but I couldn't notice the few shortcomings this museum has. First, despite the rich collection of millions of specimens, very few are on display, I've seen much smaller museums having more exponates shown. Second, even if pretty big and spacious building, a lot of that is wasted of souvenir shops, kid's entertainment, restaurants and plainly bad space management, instead of being used to put on display hundreds of thousands more specimens. All in all, shame its made to look like "Disneyland"-style show with section called "Creepy Crawlers" and other bullshit instead of being place where one can see more about the nature. Third, most of the first and second floor and some sections on the ground floor were closed. Reasons being: "Puppet show" for pre-school age children in the shellfish section. And last, despite being promoted as place were one can do some research or find answers of nature related questions, happen that due to the nature and size of the collections, this is not so easy and I am not yet sure if its even possible.

Seeing that I feel sorry for the pitiful condition of the now-day life sciences, but I guess it is simply reflection of the human nature, which makes us more interested in things that can bring us direct benefit and sorting the taxonomy of some obscure insect family is not one of these.

On the bright side, even if not many some of the specimens are exceptionally rare, like full sized Moa model, Sivatherium skull and others. Below I'll post few of the pictures and video clips I took.

And if you want to see a few pictures and clips from the somewhat similar Grant Museum of Zoology click here.

Museum entrance

Diplodocus carnegii is the very first thing a visitor will see when enter the museum

Great bustard (Otis tarda), one of the heaviest flying bird in the World is on display in the central hall 
Wasp nests, left Polybia scutellaris, middle - Chartergus metanotalus and Pseudopolybia compressa at far right

South Island giant moa (Dinornis robustus)

Flint knaped hand axe, probably hundreds of thousands years old
Ancient amphibian, superficially looks like crocodile, but it is in fact related to frogs and salamanders
Elephant bird egg

Ophthalmosaurus icenicus, type of Ichthyosaurus
Petrified tree trunk
Dinosaurus eggs and hatchlings 
Parasaurolophus skull
Centrosaurus skull

Coco de mer (Lodoicea maldivica) nut, the largest seed in the World and very rare at that
In the museum can be seen two reconstructions of the Dodo, under two different names.
This one is called "Dodo (Raphus cucullatus)"
And this one "Reunion Island dodo (Raphus solitarius)", however both looks are guesses and probably there was only one species
Polar bear

Thylacosmilus skull
Thylacine (Thylacinus cynocephalus), the colours are faded
Arsinoitherium zitteli,  animal superficially resembling Rhinoceros, but in fact related to Elephants and Manatees 
Real life sized model of a Blue Whale (Balaenoptera musculus)

Head of Blue Whale
Asian and African Elephants wit giant tusk between them

Yak (Bos mutus)

Giant deer (Megaloceros giganteus)
Gian deer (Megaloceros), impressive animal
Giant deer (Megaloceros), with even more impressive antlers 

Huge Elephant tusks and skeleton of Sperm whale
Skulls of prehistoric elephants 
Mammals NHS
Skull of two-horned narval
Steller's sea cows (Hydrodamalis gigas)
Steller's sea cow skull
Paleoparadoxia tabatai
H. neanderthalensis life size model. Its said that Neanderthals have some specific differences, like shape of the rib-cage, skull, etc, but I wonder if they actually lay somewhere on the range of the H. sapiens variations
Neanderthal model
I'd say that a Neanderthal could pass for modern human, which is not so much because of the similarities, but rather, because of the huge variations of the human phenotype. 
Another view of the Neanderthal head
The feet of H. neanderthalensis. I am not sure how correct is that reconstruction, but these feet look a bit to flat and broad for standard human

Homo habilis and H. rudolfensis skulls

Homo floresiensis head model, female
Homo floresiensis skull
Homo floresiensis skelleton
Homo erectus skulls
Paranthropus boisei and P. robustus skulls
Australopithecus sediba between chimp and human skeletons. It really looks like something in the middle, body and head ape-like, but limbs are rather like ours.
Knapped hand axes, the age of some of them is up to 0.5 Million years old
Knapped hand axes, the age of some of them is up to 0.5 Million years old
Knapped hand axes, the age of some of them is up to 0.5 Million years old
Model of what happen during sex
Relief model of the Earth

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