Animals of the Natural History Museum – part 1

While I work on the acanthocephalans in the NHM collection, I have also taken some time to admire the stunning architecture of the NHM building. The main building was constructed in the mid 1800s, in the Romanesque style.

In the photo above, you can see the tail of the Diplodocus skeleton, and the Big D in marble on the stairs. There was a quote by Darwin on the plinth:

“Freedom of thought is best promoted by the gradual illumination of men’s minds, which follows from the advance of science”.

There are many plants and animals represented in the terracotta tiles of both the interior and exterior of the building. Here is a selection of some from the interior.

Slightly creepy-looking monkeys, like this one below, climb the arches around the front of the building.

The dinosaur hall is full of dinosaurs (I know! Who’d have thought??), including a rather plasticky animated T. rex who roars at kids passing by. That itself is quite funny, but how do we know they roared? As far as I am aware, no throat soft-tissue has survived being fossilized, so did this come from a big Jurassic Park style assumption? I do like one of the other assumptions in the movie, that velociraptors can open doors. There’s something about a dinosaur with an opposable thumb that is deliciously ridiculous. (I’m happy to be wrong on the roaring. If there is evidence for roaring, I’d be pleased to see it.) But I had a bit of a look at the tiles while peering at dinosaur bones – BTW, my favourite dinosaur is the Iguanodon – and found an intriguing sea theme, represented by this nice fish:

There was a really cool octopus/squid one too, but I thought Pharyngula might sue me if here ever found this blog and saw pictures of cephalopods.

The sea theme was intriguing because there were some other, slightly creepy, animals present, like this pair of artiodactyls (not sure if they’re goats, sheep or something else),

And the omnipresent creepy monkeys.

If I wasn’t so jetlagged and was able to sleep properly, I’d probably dream of the creepy yet mesmerizing monkeys.

Stay tuned for Part 2: inside the Museum’s collection!


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