A Brief Tour through the Natural History Museum of London

Hi, everyone! I’ve arrived back home from a lovely two-week vacation in the south of England. Hope you all enjoyed the mini-tour through the Highclere Castle grounds last week– not quite “sciency” I know, but I suppose we all need a break once in awhile, right? As an aside, if you’re interested in the history of the great Egyptian pharaohs and especially that of Tutankamun, I highly recommend reading more on the 5th Earl of Carnarvon at Highclere who was one of the team who found the young pharaoh’s tomb and died in Egypt, according to legend, from the curse placed on whomever would disturb his resting place…

Anyways, today, since I’m still recuperating from jet lag, I hope you’ll all forgive me for writing a “lighter” blog this week by giving a brief photographic tour through parts of the renowned Natural History Museum in London. Though I didn’t get a chance to get back to the NHM this trip, these pictures are from a previous trip the year before. I highly recommend a visit to the museum for anyone stopping by London, and enjoy the numerous impressive exhibits and read more about their extensive history. I for one sought out a visit to the museum to see the famed ichthyosaur which was the first world-renowned find of the great paleontologist, Mary Anning. Hopefully the image might look a little familiar. 😉

As you walk towards the NHM, the impressive edifice is an architectural delight in and of itself.

NHM_Entrance

As you walk into the main gallery, you’re greeted by a skeleton of the giant Diplodocus, which, alas, I didn’t manage to snap a good picture of last time since the crowds made photography considerably more challenging.

Within the main hall, there are quite a few other exhibits. Such as the bustard:

Bustard

And a skeleton of the extinct Dodo:

Dodo_Skeleton

The impressive fossilized, Coelacanth, which is an evolutionary intermediate between ray-limbed fish and lobe-finned fish/tetrapods:

Coelecanth

While still in the main hall, you’ll also come across the giant ground sloth:

Giant_Ground_Sloth

Which can also be seen in one of the wings in an impressive upright stance:

Giant_Sloth

Elsewhere in the museum, you’ll run across sabertoothed feline specimens like this one:

Sabertooth_Cat

Go into one of the side wings off the main hall and you’ll find a plethora of ancient marine reptilian fossils, a giant collection of various dolphin-like ichthyosaurs and long-necked plesiosaurs. Here are some fine examples of ichthyosauria:

Ichthyosaurs_4

With his giant saucer-sized eyes:

Ichthyosaurus_eye

His saw-like teeth:

Ichthyosaurus_jaw

And its poly-carpalous flippers:

Ichthyosaurus_fin

And one mustn’t forget the coup de grâce, the great Mary Anning’s first big find, which she, along with her brother, discovered at a young age on the coast of her home, Lyme Regis. Hopefully this image will look a wee familiar to regular readers!

Anning's_Ichthyosaur

I should add, for those interested in the history of paleontology, ancient marine reptiles, and/or womens studies, the story of Mary Anning is well worth a read. She was a woman of low birth, born in a time when women were not educated, and yet out of necessity to earn a living and a natural passion, scoured the fossil-rich shores of Lyme Regis and made a most extraordinary slew of finds throughout her lifetime, which of course rich men bought from her (and who generally took the credit for these discoveries, with rare exception). She is now considered one of the best paleontologists of her day and of all time. I highly recommend her biography, The Fossil Hunter, for more on her life and achievements.

Mary_Anning_painting

She also found her share of plesiosaurs as well, which look rather like apatosaurs with flippers:

Plesiosaur_1

While there, don’t forget to wander into their hall of dinosaurs. There you can see the triceratops:

Triceratops

And T-rex:

TRex

The Dromeosaurus:

Dromaeosaurus

And the still-partially-embedded Edmontosaurus:

Endmontosaurus_2

Back out into the main hall and upwards, don’t forget to stop and chat with good ol’ Darwin. He’s a bit tight-lipped, but congenial nonetheless:

Darwin

On your way up to see the history of hominids:

H._antecessor

On the upper floors, the giant redwood is a sight to behold, its girth reaching almost the entire height of the ceiling:

Redwood

And finally, keep an eye out for all the fossils and minerals around the museum, such as the giant ammonite:

Ammonite

And an incredible (and huge!) example of a butterscotch-colored desert rose which is undoubtedly worth quite a bit of dosh:

Butterscotch_Crystals

And that’s about all I have for you this week. These images were just a small smattering, a taste, of what’s at this fabulous museum. If you’re interested in learning more about its history, you can glean much more by reading about its early patrons and the paleontologists of 19th century England who have helped shape what it is today, its collections, its traditions. The history of the famed dinosaur hunters of that era is especially intricately interwoven with that of the museum.

Till next week, folks, when I get back down to the business of science writing. Ta!

One response to “A Brief Tour through the Natural History Museum of London

  1. Pingback: In Mary Anning’s Footsteps | Science Over a Cuppa·

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