Easter Object of the Week – 28/03/13

This Sunday is Easter Sunday – Happy Easter to you all!

See if you know what this Easter themed object is. If it were made of chocolate it would be the largest easter egg in the world!


Did you know what last week’s object of the week was?

Rhinoceros beetle

The rather fabulous horns of this male rhinoceros beetle may look threatening, but you only need to be worried if you are another male rhinoceros beetle.

Rhinoceros beetles are in the Scarab beetle subfamily Dynastinae. Only the males have horns which they use to compete for females.

Rhinoceros beetles were featured in the BBC nature news pages last week. Click here to read the story.

Object of the Week – 21/03/13

It’s been a hard day’s night choosing the object of the week. Which animal in our museum has horns like these?


Did you know what last week’s object of the week was?

Malaysian Flying Fox (Pteropus vampyrus)

Well done if you identified the picture last week as a fruit bat; more specifically our Malaysian Flying Fox (Pteropus vampyrus).

This incredible specimen is in the Suborder Megachiroptera (the Mega bats) – and as the name suggests it contains some of the largest bats in the world. Some Pteropus bats have a wing span of 1.5 metres! They are found all over Southeast Asia and feed on fruit, nectar and flowers.

IUCN have listed this species as Near Threatened which means that numbers are declining and it may be threatened with extinction in the near future. The main threats to this animal are overhunting and habitat loss. 

Object of the Week – 14/03/13

Our specimen this week always has their five a day. What is it?



Did you know what last week’s object of the week was?


The photo last week was a close-up of the spines of our Pufferfish. Pufferfish are the second most toxic vertebrates in the world. They contain a neurotoxin, Tetrodotoxin (TTX), for which there is no known antidote. The name of the toxin is taken from the name of the order Tetraodontiformes which includes Pufferfish.

Why is there a Pufferfish in the display case next to Captain Cook? The first recorded case of TTX poisoning was in 1774 when the crew of Cook’s ship ate parts of a tropical fish and experienced numbness and difficulty breathing. The crew survived, but the pigs which had eaten the rest of the fish later died.

Pufferfish are eaten In Japan as a dish called Fugu. Chefs train for up to three years and must take an examination before they earn their license to make this dish.

Object of the Week – 07/03/13

Which prickly character is our object this week?










Did you know what last week’s object of the week was?

Tuatara skeleton (Sphenodon)

At first glance you might think that this is the skeleton of a lizard, but look more closely at the skull. The large hole behind the eye socket distinguishes this as a Tuatara (genus Sphenodon), an early offshoot of the reptile group that evolved into lizards and snakes.

Tuatara were once widespread (about 200 million years ago) but the two surviving species are only found on the islands of New Zealand.

These reptiles lack external ears and have a small pineal eye (also called a parietal eye or ‘third eye’) on the top of their head which is connected to the pineal gland. This eye has a basic lens and retina and detects changes in light levels.

The function of the pineal eye is to regulate the circadian rhythms of the animal and also hormone production. It is may also play a part in detecting predators like birds that attack from above.