Amphioxus against a black background

Reconstructing ancestors: insights from the ocean

Giacomo Gattoni, PhD Student, writes: When we look at the natural world we are often in awe at the richness and diversity of life forms that we can observe. As an undergraduate student, I became fascinated by evolution, the process through which this diversity originated during the history of life. I am particularly interested in reconstructing ancestors of modern animals, organisms that lived in the … Continue reading Reconstructing ancestors: insights from the ocean

Portals to the World: resources for adults with dementia and their care partners

Join us as we explore five species with Museum staff and Department of Zoology researchers, then have a go at a different art activity inspired by the featured animals. These videos and resources have been created in partnership with Dementia Compass, for adults with dementia and their care partners in mind. While they were initially created for participants of our Portals to the World course, … Continue reading Portals to the World: resources for adults with dementia and their care partners

White admiral on leaf

Provide shady spots to protect butterflies from climate change

Researchers have discovered significant variations in the ability of different UK butterfly species to maintain a suitable body temperature. Species that rely most on finding a suitably shady location to keep cool are at the greatest risk of population decline. The results predict how climate change might impact butterfly communities, and will inform conservation strategies to protect them. The results, published in the Journal of … Continue reading Provide shady spots to protect butterflies from climate change

Lantern bugs for a Festival of Lights

At this time of year, people across the world will be celebrating Diwali or Deepawali, also known as the Indian festival of lights. Create a lantern bug light holder to celebrate the festival together. What is a lantern bug? Lantern bugs, Fulgora and Pyrops, (also known as lanternflies) are found across south and south east Asia, and the Americas; mostly in tropical regions. They are part of … Continue reading Lantern bugs for a Festival of Lights

yellow petaled flower with black yellow bee during daytime

Busy Bee Communication

Ever wondered how bees communicate with each other to work as a team? Learn about the important job these pollinating insects carry out. Play our ‘Talk like a Bee’ game and discover how bees can ‘smell’ each other when visiting flowers, and find out how we can give these insects a helping hand by building your very own bee-friendly winter refuge. Insect communication Insects can … Continue reading Busy Bee Communication

A cleared and stained backbone from a hatchling skate. Red staining indicates mineralised cartilage and blue staining indicates unmineralised cartilage.

Segmentation of the backbone

Kate Criswell, Postdoctoral Research Associate, writes: One of the key features that distinguishes vertebrate animals from our invertebrate cousins (such as insects and molluscs) is a backbone, or a series of vertebrae that run the length of the body. These vertebrae can range in number from only nine in frogs to over 300 in elongate animals like snakes and eels! They are important for providing … Continue reading Segmentation of the backbone

Pumpkin lantern lit from the inside featuring frog design

Proud Pumpkins: making sustainable choices

Follow our top tips on how to use and dispose of your pumpkin in a sustainable way; looking after you and the planet. Plus, we’ve got four awesome autumnal animal stencils and a step-by-step guide for carving your own pumpkin lantern. Sustainable pumpkins There’s plenty of things to do with the leftover seeds and fibres after pumpkin carving. Here’s some top tips on where to … Continue reading Proud Pumpkins: making sustainable choices

Oil palm (c) Valentine Reiss-Woolever

Palm oil boycotts may block the path to sustainability

Valentine Reiss-Woolever, a PhD student in the Insect Ecology Group, writes: Bamboo straws, Nordic flight shame, and reusable tote bags – environmentally minded consumption is increasingly common. A buzzword in recent years, “conscientious consumption” describes our attempts to spend money with an awareness of how our choices affect the world outside of ourselves. At the start of 2020, 64% of Germans said “living more sustainably” … Continue reading Palm oil boycotts may block the path to sustainability

Sloth craft finished, hanging from a branch in a tree

A Slumber of Sloths

This week we celebrate International Sloth Day (20th October) with a mossy mate that will hang from almost anywhere. Sloths are known for being a laid back mammal; feeding exclusively on leaves and moving rather slowly through the rainforest canopys of South and Central America. What you might not know about sloths is that many species live in symbiosis (mutally beneficial relationship) with mosses and … Continue reading A Slumber of Sloths

Amjad with purple hairstreak butterfly on his finger

‘Chasing butterflies’ at the Museum of Zoology

Amjad Khalaf, undergraduate student, writes: One of my fondest childhood memories is chasing butterflies and ladybirds in the garden and being fascinated by their vibrant colours as they flew around. Thinking back, that was one of the main reasons I became interested in biology; I often found myself wondering  why they looked the way they did and how they lived their lives that were so … Continue reading ‘Chasing butterflies’ at the Museum of Zoology

Badger mask complete with making materials

National Badger Day Mask

What’s black and white and likes eggs for dinner? The UK’s largest land predator of course! This week we celebrate the European badger; an omnivore that likes to snack on small mammals, birds’ eggs, worms, fruit and plants. Discover more about how scientists are Conserving Britain’s Carnivores here or delve into the details of a badger’s skull with our Exploring Skulls video: Creating your badger … Continue reading National Badger Day Mask

Nephila sp. Golden orb weaver and oil palm

New study assesses the impacts of oil palm replanting on arthropod biodiversity

Michael Pashkevich writes: Palm oil seems to be everywhere:  it’s probably in your shampoo, the instant noodles you ate for lunch and – if you’re wearing it – your lipstick. In fact, palm oil is the most traded vegetable oil worldwide, in part because it can be used in so many products. But the production of palm oil is highly controversial. This is because oil … Continue reading New study assesses the impacts of oil palm replanting on arthropod biodiversity

Photograph taken with lense half-way into river water

Can how we manage agriculture’s impact on insects and biodiversity?

Martina Harianja, PhD student, writes: Imagine that you were eight times as big as a grain of sugar, and you live in a fast-flowing stream. To get food, you need to swim against the current. What properties would need to accomplish this?  Semi-aquatic bugs in the genus of Rhagovelia offer a brilliant approach. Their body length ranges from two to four millimetres as an adult, and … Continue reading Can how we manage agriculture’s impact on insects and biodiversity?

Rhino craft collage

A ‘crash’ of rhinoceroses

Rhinos are big herbivores (plant-eaters) that have a huge impact on their habitat, by spreading around seeds and walking through, pushing and shoving the vegetation, which helps other animals in their environments. They have also had a big impact on human culture, appearing in all sorts of art for at least 700 years! There are five species of rhinos alive today, but sadly four of … Continue reading A ‘crash’ of rhinoceroses