natural history museum – behind the scenes

There are over 70 million specimens in the Natural History Museum’s collection, 28 million of those are entomology specimens, and 8.5 million of those are beetle specimens.  My main reason for visiting the Natural History Museum was to consult their beetle collection and see the numerous type specimens of my beetles (read previous post for description of what a type specimen is).  The majority of specimens that I looked at were collected by George Charles Champion, an eminent English entomologist who specialized in Coleoptera.  He started collecting beetles at a young age and lived for several years in Guatemala.  He described over 4,000 new species and most of his beetle types are at the British Natural History Museum.  G.C. Champion has a special place in my heart because although he worked on many different beetle families, he seemed to especially like my family of interest – the Aderidae.  Not many are struck by these rather small, often brown beetles, but I’m tickled that Mr. Champion saw how fantastic they are.

The picture above shows the compactors that are used to store the insect drawers filled with specimens at the museum.  These specimens have been collected from around the world and include some from people who you might be familiar with, like Charles Darwin.  I didn’t actually get to see any Darwin collected specimens, but I know they exist…next time I’ll make sure to see them!

And this is a picture of my workspace at the Natural History Museum.  It generally sums up everything that I used while there – scope, specimens, computer, and coffee.  I had a really wonderful visit here and was able to meet several Coleopterists that I hadn’t met before.  Since this was the first museum on my European Coleop-tour I want to go back here as I was still figuring things out and was only able to spend a week.  Fingers crossed I’ll be back soon!

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5 thoughts on “natural history museum – behind the scenes

  1. I am not familiar with the family Aderidae, but a Chrysomelid worker (Shawn Clark) I work under sure gets a kick out of how fascinated i am by ordinary black groundbeetles, I understand how that goes 😉

  2. John, I don’t think many people are familiar with the family Aderidae. They are in the Tenebrionoidea probably closely related to the Anthicidae or Scraptiidae. I’ll definitely highlight them on here at some point. And I agree – the shiny beetles are beautiful, but the unassuming black ones are also fantastic!

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