Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Visit to the Great North Museum archive at the Discovery Museum

This afternoon we had a class outing to the Discovery museum where we met Dan Gordon, Keeper of Biology for Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums. 

Dan gave us a fascinating tour of the archives...

"Several extinct and endangered species are represented, including great auk, moa, dodo, huia, kakapo, blue-wattled crow or kokako, Inaccessible Island rail, passenger pigeon and the only surviving specimen of the extinct British race of the capercaillie.

The bird mount collection numbers around 2,000 specimens and a comprehensive range of British species, including the only known juvenile specimen of a great auk, the only surviving specimen of the extinct British race of the Capercaillie and at least one 18th Century type specimen. Other Extinct species, or those on the verge of extinction, are represented by the Huia, Kakapo, Blue-Wattled Crow, Inaccessible Island Rail and Passenger Pigeon, and there are many specimens of other rare and endangered species.

The study skin collection (around 12,000 specimens) is divided, for the purposes of cataloguing and storage into Palaearctic (the bulk of Eurasia and North Africa) and non-Palaearctic specimens. It is especially strong in material from the British Isles.

The collection of non-Palaearctic study skins includes 4,050 birds collected in Assam, Sikkim and Tonkin during the 1920s, areas which have suffered major environmental deterioration in recent decades. It also include a type specimen of Dickinson's Falcon, Falco Dickinsoni (donated 1863) from Zambia.
The historic egg and nest collection, housing around 28,000 specimens is predominantly British in origin, and provides comprehensive coverage of the national fauna. A small number of exotic specimens include eggs from Siberia.

The museum also holds several historically important marine collections, including the Alder Hancock collection of nudibranchs and tunicates, and George Brady’s ostracods. The marine specimens are complimented by 50 models of sea anemones made by the Bohemian glass-worker Blaschka in the late 19th Century: originally bought for scientific purposes, they are also superb examples of the model-maker's art.

A whale head!

Poisoned spears

The Great North Museum’s botany collections include over 79,000 specimens from a variety of taxonomic groups, including algae, bryophytes (mosses and liverworts), tracheophytes (flowering plants and ferns), and fungi, including lichens. Many of the specimens are from historically interesting collections, some of which are almost 200 years old. Local and national species are well represented.

Insect collections

The insect collection incorporates a large array of Lepidoptera, Coleoptera and Ditptera specimens. All include a large British component, and the Lepidoptera collection is strong in material from the Oriental region, containing a birdwing butterfly collection."

Butterfly collections

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