Darwin, dinosaurs, and flesh-eating beetles!

Outlines of a distant past

I realize that I’m fashionably late for Darwin Day (12 Feb), but I offer cool-scary dinosaur skeletons and flesh-eating beetles in apology!

We were in London Friday to see the Kildegaards who (a) are friends of ours from Morris, (b) are living in Denmark this year on sabbatical, and (c) were in London for a week. We had a wonderful day, which included time in both the Natural History Museum (NHM – where the photo above was taken) and the V&A.

As part of our time in the NHM, we toured the wonderful Darwin Centre. (See the nifty connection? See? See? :->) This included amazing cool things such as a giant squid in a tank, loads of great big animals (mostly fish) preserved in equally big custom-made glass jars (including a Coelacanth and a whole jar of platypi), and flesh-eating beetles! They have a whole room of incubators of flesh-eating beetles that they use to clean specimens without damaging the skeletal structure. And to top off this festival of biological delights, they have a real-time beetle-cam where you can watch the little critters roaming around over the carcass of the moment (in a grainy, low-res format, to be sure), busily contributing to the scientific process. I suspect, in fact, that they will, in their oblivious fashion, will probably contribute more to science than someone like Huckabee.

I want to thank our tour guide (whose name I, sadly but predictably, have forgotten), as she did a great job. She was full of useful information, and handled our numerous questions gracefully and informatively.

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Cool juxtapositions

A gentleman and a scholar

On my Twitter stream this morning was this from kjell_:

“The disappearance of age-old pleasures and privileges is the first unmistakable sign of progress.” -Bernard Rudofsky

followed by this from Vaguery:

scanning an 1850 Edinburgh Philosophical Journal, just ’cause. And for the Agassiz

Of course it’s convenient that Vaguery’s Twitter things have a very high proportion of “scanning some cool old document to save it for the world”. Still, I thought it was cool :-).

And I don’t know what the rest of you are doing this evening, but we’re going to the British Museum to see the Chinese terra cotta army (or the bit of it that’s on display there at the moment)! You never know, I might take a photo (or 200).

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