Interesting morning at O.U.M.N.H

This morning I was invited to Oxford University Museum of Natural History to talk to a summer school group about wildlife, blogging and photography. As this is one of my favourite places in Oxford I couldn’t refuse.


Talking about my blogging and photography

Shortly after talking to the group of young people we were joined by Zoe, an entomologist, who gave us all a really fascinating guide on the importance of collecting and recording insects. Followed by how you mount and label them.

How to pin a beetle

Larger specimens are pinned, with the legs and head showing for easier identification.

Mounting beetles using glue

Mounting beetles using glue

Smaller specimens are glued either on a flat card or mounted so you can see the underparts more clearly.

learning about labelling insects

Some insects the summer school group collected

It was fantastic to see some insects that the summer school group had collected the previous day, now mounted and labelled with their names added as the collector.

Even more fantastic to hear was that one of the insects caught hadn’t been collected by the museum since 1870.

After this, and while the summer school group were off doing other things, I got a private tour of behind the scenes at the museum. One of the highlights was to see a Dodo bone.

Dodo bone

Dodo bone

Next I was shown the actual room where The Great Debate took place.  The debate was held at OUMNH on 30th June 1860, between Thomas Huxley who was on the side of Charles Darwin’s concept of evolution by natural selection with Samuel Wilberforce, Bishop of Oxford who argued the idea of biblical creation.

Darren, Head of Life Collections, was very kind to spend time showing me some of the insect collects from the past including a tray of Charles Darwin’s insects, as well as teaching me about Irecord a modern way of recording and sharing information of species between ecologists, scientists, experts and enthusiasts, but it was interesting to hear that although with the use of modern technology there is still an important place to have a specimen of the actual insect in a museum or lab to study close up for id and research.

Charles Darwin’s collection of insects

About Alex White - Appletonwild

This is my diary of the wildlife where I live in Oxfordshire, and sometimes the places I visit. My passion is for British wildlife, especially Badgers and Hares. This year my debut book "Get Your Boots On" was published I am a keen amateur photographer. All the photographs on this blog are taken by myself unless stated otherwise. I am a member of A Focus on Nature, the network for Young Nature Conservationists, BBOWT, The Oxon Mammal group and The Oxfordshire Badger Group. You can also follow me on Twitter @Appletonwild Instagram appletonwild
This entry was posted in Animals, Blogging, Citizen science, Environment, insects, Museum, nature, Oxfordshire, photography, science, Uncategorized, Wildlife and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Interesting morning at O.U.M.N.H

  1. How remarkable to stand in the hall where the great debate took place! Naturalists change the world!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Spocki says:

    Exciting! So why is it still necessary to collect & kill insect specimen if people could just take some proper photos and then let the insects run free? I’m curious if this point was addressed. I studied biology about 20 years ago and we were given the option of photo or real insect.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It certainly was a point raised. It is because (we were told) some insects look so similar and only way you can tell them apart is by looking at the male parts and you can only do that under a microscope. There was talk about protecting insects that appeared in certain areas, then they found out that it was something similar so they needed the actual insect to prove it. We were told about the ethical procedure of collecting insects, so you only take a few specimens. I know what you mean though, we had a survey done of our local wood which found a rare hoverfly that hadn’t been seen for 60 years, but it died in the collecting pan. I felt a bit weird knowing that they just discovered it and now it was dead.

      Liked by 3 people

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