Our second year Ecology and Conservation degree students had a fantastic day out at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History which included a guided behind-the-scenes tour from Darren Mann, Head of Life Collections.

We were given access to some of the 3.5 million entomological specimens housed there, including those collected by Darwin and Livingstone. We visited the Huxley room, famous for the Great Debate over Evolution between Huxley and Bishop Wilberforce in 1860, and saw trays full of British insects used to help confirm taxa details.

We also saw the leg bone of a dodo, the only example to still contain soft tissue, making the recent DNA analyses that proved the dodo’s descent from pigeons possible.

Finally, we were allowed to handle some of the live specimens. These included a beautiful and perfectly camouflaged Ghost mantis, a scorpion that turned blue under ultra-violet light, two hissing cockroaches and a furry tarantula.

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