Heliconius butterfly

Exploring Chemical Signals in Butterflies

Kathy Darragh, PhD student in the Department of Zoology, writes: Due to the visual nature of humans, when we think of communication in nature, we tend to focus on things we can see. In many groups, however, other types of signals, such as chemicals, are the main form of communication. These chemical signals are harder to detect, and therefore to study, meaning they have received … Continue reading Exploring Chemical Signals in Butterflies

Redwing amongst winter berries

Our Feathered Friends

With the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch taking place from the 29-31 January, we have chosen to celebrate our fine feathered friends with a special Nature Classroom all about British birds. We will be uncovering what it is to be a bird, unfurling an amazing world of feathers, and creating a key together for common garden birds. Get your eye in by trying some of our … Continue reading Our Feathered Friends

Amazing Animal Adaptations

To celebrate the Museum reopening on September 24, for pre-booked visits only (for details and how to book, see our website), we have developed a new trail around the galleries taking in some of the amazing adaptations on display. Not able to visit the Museum? You can explore these adaptations here, with some extra ideas on ways you can discover more about animal evolution at … Continue reading Amazing Animal Adaptations

Copyright All rights reserved by Steve Balcombe

Studying evolution through the specialisations of burying beetles

Swastika Issar, PhD student, writes: “I’ve always been fascinated by how new species can emerge from the way populations adapt to their local environments. For my PhD, I worked on the burying beetles. These incredible insects turn the carcass of a small vertebrate, such as a bird or a mammal, into an edible nest for their larvae. I was interested in studying how local adaptations … Continue reading Studying evolution through the specialisations of burying beetles

Parasitic finches mimic their hosts to deceive foster parents

Gabriel Jamie writes: Research recently published in the journal Evolution shows that the nestlings of brood-parasitic finches mimic the appearance, sound and movements of their host’s chicks. Working in the savannas of Zambia, Dr Gabriel Jamie and a team of international collaborators collected images, sounds and videos over four years to demonstrate this striking and highly specialised form of mimicry. The study, funded by The … Continue reading Parasitic finches mimic their hosts to deceive foster parents

Ghedoghedo / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)

Some of the first animals that ever existed

To celebrate International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month the Museum is sharing the stories of 27 inspirational women, alongside the animals they work with the most. Dr. Emily Mitchell Department of Zoology “My research focuses on some of the first animals that ever existed. These first animals are found during the Ediacaran time period, around 580 million years ago. I was totally unaware about … Continue reading Some of the first animals that ever existed

Darwin and the bears ‘as monstrous as whales’

Museum Manager Jack Ashby writes: ‘As this week is Bear Awareness week it’s a good chance to share a story from the history of science involving Charles Darwin’s interpretations of what some bears’ behaviour might mean for the evolution of future bear species. ‘He had become aware of observations of a black bear catching insects in the water by swimming for hours with its mouth … Continue reading Darwin and the bears ‘as monstrous as whales’

Climate Change: the board game

You are an animal species, living in the savannah. The world is divided in four habitats based on the average temperature and precipitation (rain and snowfall) in each area. There are hotter and colder regions around you, but you find the average temperature of the savannah very comfortable. The savannah is occupied by a number of different species (the other players), all adapted to this … Continue reading Climate Change: the board game

Burying beetle credit T. Houslay

Parental care in burying beetles

To celebrate International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month the Museum is sharing the stories of 27 inspirational women, alongside the animals they work with the most. Among the stories is that of the Director of the Museum, Professor of Evolutionary Biology, Rebecca Kilner. Professor Rebecca Kilner Director, Museum of Zoology “Research in my lab investigates how evolution works. We focus on burying beetles, but the principles … Continue reading Parental care in burying beetles