10 April 2008

Bora in Blighty: photo-fest part I

Yesterday afternoon Bora and a small group of London area bloggers and readers came over to the Natural History Museum for a bit of a look-see 'round the place. Our first point of call was rather sombre but nevertheless a must: Professor Steve Steve paid tribute to his famous cousin, Chi Chi the giant panda.

The horror.

Initially disturbed by the sight of his kin so crudely stuffed and put on display for all to see whilst enjoying cups of tea and "coprolyte cupcakes" in the museum cafe, Steve Steve's sadness turned to admiration when he noticed that even after having been killed, stuffed and locked in a diorama for several decades, Chi Chi still seemed to manage a regular diet of bamboo.

Next I took our bloggers to see the Zoology department's impressive spirit collection (no, not a collection of spirits, but a collection in spirit). The highlight, as always, was the "tank room" where the really big specimens lurk. Most of them are in big ground-glass jars, but specimens too big for the biggest jars are put in metal containers the lids of which have to be removed with a system of chains and pulleys.

The biggest of all is Archie, the giant squid, named after its genus Architeuthis. As you can see, Archie has her (yes, Archie is a her) own special container, which is especially conducive to drop-jawed ogling.

At the other end of the room in a dim little cabinet are some small but very special specimens: fish collected by Darwin during his time aboard the Beagle. In all the excitement, I seem to have forgotten to take photos of them, but I'm hoping some of the others will post theirs in the near future (update: Mo answers the call). After the tank room, we stopped off for a quick group shot in the Darwin Centre.

From the left: Mo, Bora, Euan, Ed, Matt, Malcolm, Kara, Selva and yours truly.

Having worked up a thirst in the tank room (mm mm mm, industrial methylated spirits...), we went across the street to the Queen's Arms (more pictures expected from the other bloggers) and then on to Daquise for an excellent Polish meal followed by rounds of vodka.


Miriam Goldstein said...

That really seems like the best of all possible days! Giant squid, Darwin, generous libations - who could ask for anything more?

Ed Yong said...

Flesh-eating beetles!