Seeing Butterflies: New Perspectives on Colour, Patterns and Mimicry by Philip Howse.

Seeing Butterflies: New Perspectives on Colour, Patterns and Mimicry by Philip HowseFor a fascinating insight into the bizarre colour patterns of butterflies and moths, visit Dorset County Museum for a talk by butterfly mimicry expert, Philip Howse. Philip will be launching his new book, Seeing Butterflies: New Perspectives on Colour, Patterns and Mimicry, at an event at the Museum on 26th November.

Originally focussing on the death’s head hawk moth, Philip quickly realised that the skull marking, seen from the appropriate angle, was in fact a crude image of the head of a giant hornet.

“From that point on, I found more and more examples of images of parts of dangerous animals: teeth, eyes, claws, beaks etc. embedded in the wing patterns,” said Philip.

Butterfly wings demonstrating mimicry

Butterfly wings demonstrating mimicry

During his talk on 26th November, Professor Howse will explain the reasons for the enchanting colours and designs on the wings of butterflies and moths and discuss survival strategies using behaviour, mimicry and camouflage.

Philip Howse has published several books and numerous research articles on insect behavior and ecology. After a career spent mainly at Southampton University, he has now retired but continues writing about the insects that have fascinated him since he was a boy.

All are welcome to this event which is FREE although donations are welcome to cover costs. Copies of Philip’s book will be for sale during the evening. The talk will start at 7.30pm and doors are open from 7.00pm. For further information see www.dorsetcountymuseum.org.

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Active Faults & Ancient Places: Archaeoseismology in the Aegean by Prof. Iain Stewart

Professor Iain Stewart

Professor Iain Stewart

Iain Stewart, Professor of Geoscience Communication at the University of Plymouth, is giving a lecture at Thomas Hardye School, Dorchester, on 22nd April 2014. The subject of his talk is Active Faults and Ancient Places: Archaeoseismology in the Aegean.
Professor Stewart is a geologist, well known for presenting several BBC TV series including How Earth Made Us, Journeys From The Centre Of The Earth and Earth: The Power Of The Planet.

The lecture has been organised in partnership between Dorset County Museum and Thomas Hardye School as part of the Community Lecture series. All Community Lectures are well attended and entry is by ticket only – tickets will be available from the Thomas Hardye School office approximately two weeks before the lecture. To avoid confusion, tickets are not available from the Museum. For more ticket information click here

The lecture will take place in the Thomas Hardye School theatre and will commence at 7.00pm.

For further information contact the Museum on 01305 262735 or check the website on www.dorsetcountymuseum.org

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#MuseumWeek comes to Dorset County Museum

#MuseumWeekDorset County Museum will join museums and galleries from across the UK and Europe on Twitter later this month for the first ever #MuseumWeek, a project that will connect people to artwork, culture, history and science in new and interactive ways.

#MuseumWeek will take place from Monday 24th March – Sunday 30th March 2014 and will give Twitter users direct and unparalleled access to some of Europe’s leading museums and the people behind them in 140-characters bursts.

@DorsetMuseum

Follow us @DorsetMuseum

Dorset County Museum will join other UK organisations already signed up include the Science Museum (@sciencemuseum), the Natural History Museum (@NHM_London), the Victoria and Albert Museum (@V_and_A), the British Museum (@britishmuseum), and the Tate (@Tate).

Dorset County Museum will join others across the UK and Europe by including the hashtag #MuseumWeek in their Tweets for the week, meaning users can follow along on Twitter. In addition, every day there will be a different theme including #MuseumSelfies, #MuseumMemories, #MuseumMascot and more.

@PliosaurKevan

Follow our #MuseumMascot @PliosaurKevan

A full list of participating UK organisations can be viewed here #MuseumWeek UK

Mar Dixon (@MarDixon), an expert in social media and museums and host of the @CultureThemes project, said: “Every day of the year museums and cultural institutions across the world are using Twitter in exciting and interesting ways to tell the stories of their collections to new audiences. 

“#MuseumWeek will shine a light on these activities, giving a real-time glimpse into the workings of museums across the UK and Europe, 140 characters at a time.”

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Tales from the Archives: A browse through old registers

Dorset County Museum Accession RegisterWhen carrying out research at the Dorset County Museum using its old Accession Registers, (some tatty, some neat and tidy!) one cannot but help spotting odd, strikingly worded or unusual descriptions. The following list is a record of some of the most significant, interesting and obscure Accession Register entries those found during 2013. Serendipity is indeed a strange bedfellow…

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1884 October
Given by J. S. Udal Esq, Inner Temple. A portrait of Judge Jeffreys.

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1885 September
The slough of a snake, nearly 4ft long from Wool Heath. Given by Mrs Penny.

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1886 May

A pair of Chinese stockings made of human hair. Given by the Right Reverend G.E Moule. Bishop in Mid China.

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1896 March
A fragment of Roman pavement from Victoria St London. from F. A. Burt Esq, 1 Gordon Villas, Swanage.

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1891 January
Copy of poll at Shaftesbury Election 1679. Given by J. E. Nightingale Esq.

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1893 February
Beaver bones from Tarrant Crawford.

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1901 April
Palestine Exploration Fund Journal for April 1901. Given by the Reverend G. E. V. Filleul, Dorchester.

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1903 November
On loan from F. J. Lloyd Priestley Esq. 2 hawk mummies and several small figures of Egyptian Gods etc.

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1921 June
Hen’s egg “freak”- chicken 1 head, 4 legs, 2 bodies. Mrs Follett, Wych Farm, Bridport.

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1925 February
Little Auk. Picked up in an exhausted state, near Corfe Castle.

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1937 March

Chimney sweep’s hook for pulling down obstructions in chimneys. Found broken in a chimney, Cornhill, Dorchester.

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  • Some but not all of these objects may still be found in the collections of the Dorset Natural History & Archaeological Society at the Dorset County Museum!
Archivist Mole

David Ashford – Dorset County Museum Research Enquiries & Identifications Service

Geology Lecture: What is a Bird? by Dr. Gareth Dyke

Microraptor

Reconstruction of Microraptor Picture Credit: Mick Ellison/AMNH.

On Wednesday 12th February 2014, a talk at Dorset County Museum by Dr. Gareth Dyke of University of Southampton aims to answer an ongoing question amongst geologists: What is a Bird?

The evolution of wings in dinosaurs, and the eventual emergence of birds, was undoubtedly a momentous step in the progression of vertebrate life on our planet.  Using fossil evidence, Dr. Dyke will unfold the history of birds and their dinosaur predecessors through a study of their anatomical diversity as well as lifestyles and habitats.  He will discuss recent fossil discoveries which show key stages in the refinement of parachuting, gliding and – maybe – flapping flight.

Dr. Dyke will also explain how birds managed to survive the massive extinctions at the end of the Cretaceous period which killed every remaining non-avian dinosaur.

All are welcome to this talk – entry is free and a donation of £3.00 is encouraged to cover costs. Doors open at 6.30pm, the talk will commence at 7.00pm.

For further information contact the Museum on 01305 262735 or check the website on www.dorsetcountymuseum.org

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Wallace: The Greatest Tropical Naturalist of the 19th Century by David Croman

Alfred Russel Wallace

Alfred Russel Wallace, O.M., L.L.D., D.C.L., F.R.S.

Dorset County Museum is pleased to present a talk on the subject of one of Charles Darwin’s major contemporaries.  The event forms part of the celebrations marking the centenary of the death of the great naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace.

David Croman, former Head of Department at Salisbury College, Principal Examiner and teacher, will be speaking about the adventures, triumphs and failures of Wallace as an explorer, biologist, anthropologist and geographer and will reveal why he is now thought of as the greatest tropical naturalist of the nineteenth century.

The talk is free of charge but a donation of £3.00 is encouraged to cover costs.  The event takes place on Friday 29th November. Doors open at 7.00pm and the talk will commence at 7.30pm.

For further information please see www.dorsetcountymuseum.org or telephone 01305 262735.

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Am feeling quite jolly!

Darkened not dormant

This lovely example of Alfred Russel Wallace’s beautiful handwriting and cheerful nature was written to chemist and Wallace’s good friend Raphael Meldola. He wrote it on his 90th (and sadly last) birthday. It is particular favourite of Annette Lord, who has scanned and transcribed the Museum’s collection of 300+ Wallace documents.

Today marks 100 years since Wallace’s death and provides a good opportunity to reflect on his achievements. We’ve set up a display in the Museum to mark the occasion and show some of the most impressive Wallace specimens in our collection. Wallace travelled to remote, dangerous parts of the world in search of new and fascinating species. He was a meticulous and careful collector; you can’t help but marvel at how the incredibly long antennae of these beetles survived the journey back to Britain!

Wallace is now credited by many as co-author of the theory of evolution through natural selection, so it is very exciting to…

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Wallace in his own words

Darkened not dormant

Here in the Museum of Natural History’s archives, we proudly house over 300 of Alfred Russel Wallace’s documents. Letters, notes and postcards written by the great naturalist himself. Here you can see Sir David Attenborough holding one of his favourites.

Over the past two years, all of the Wallace paper items in our collection have been scanned, transcribed and uploaded to Wallace Letters Online, a worldwide documentation project that’s part of the Wallace 100 celebrations. But the most remarkable thing is that all this work was done by one woman!

Annette Lord has been a volunteer at the Museum for 3 years and has helped with many family friendly activities, but one day she popped up to the Entomology Department to ask about Wallace’s letters. Her curiosity was piqued and she soon set to work on the enormous task of making them accessible to Wallace fans across the world.

The…

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What’s on the van? – Wallace’s giant bee

Darkened not dormant

Wallace_photo

This Thursday, 7th November, marks 100 years since the death of the famous Victorian naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace. Wallace was an intrepid explorer and prolific collector and is hugely important in our understanding of the natural world. He co-discovered evolution by natural selection with Charles Darwin and we are fortunate to have several hundred of his specimens and letters in our collections here at the Museum of Natural History. 

To celebrate the life of such an important scientific figure, we’re dedicating this week on the blog to all things Wallace. We’ll be sharing some hidden gems, little known facts about the great man and stories of Museum staff walking in the footsteps of Wallace.
So here begins Wallace Week, with a description of one of his fantastic specimens…

_Megachile

This week’s What’s on the van? comes from Sally-Ann Spence of Minibeast Mayhem and the Bug Club.

A single female bee stands…

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Alfred Russel Wallace and Natural Selection by Dr. Peter Raby

Wallace100Alfred Russel Wallace was one of the late nineteenth century’s most outstanding scientific thinkers. He is probably best known as the co-discoverer (with Charles Darwin) of the principle of natural selection but he also made significant contributions in many other fields and founded the discipline of biogeography.  Followers of Wallace still regard him as the pre-eminent field biologist, collector and naturalist of tropical regions – he collected over 125,000 natural history specimens in South East Asia alone.

Alfred Russel Wallace

Alfred Russel Wallace, O.M., L.L.D., D.C.L., F.R.S.

However, his work in many areas is not well-known even today and his significant achievements remain poorly recognised.  In his talk, Dr. Peter Raby of Homerton College, Cambridge, who wrote a biography of Wallace in 2001, will seek to redress the balance.  He will describe how Wallace wrote to Charles Darwin excitedly outlining his new theory of natural selection, throwing Darwin into a panic.  Just two weeks later Darwin’s outline and Wallace’s paper were jointly presented in London. The following year Darwin, using much of the material from Wallace’s meticulous research, published ‘On the Origin of Species’ to wide acclaim.  Wallace, meanwhile, was still on the other side of the world – his crucial contribution to the work largely overlooked.

Dr. Raby’s talk, The Man who Selected Darwin,  complements the Museum’s current exhibition Alfred Russel Wallace: A Centenary Celebration which provides a rare opportunity to see its entire collection of brightly coloured bird skins from Wallace’s Malay Archipelago trip in 1854-1855.  Dr. Raby has also written widely on drama
and the theatre and is the editor of the Cambridge Companions to Oscar Wilde and
Harold Pinter.

The lecture takes place at 7.30pm on Wednesday 23th October 2013. Entry is FREE and the doors are open from 7.00pm.

For further information contact the Museum on 01305 262735 or check the website on www.dorsetcountymuseum.org

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