I ate body!

Last week I mentioned the great auk in Norwich Museum in their Natural History gallery. This week I was reminded of a exercise in writing museum labels run by SHARE, which introduced me to the Norwich School of Taxiderm, and the story of Fred Ashton, who didn't let anything go to waste. As the Independent review of the exhibition noted: "Ashton, too, was a character: he famously ate the flesh of the birds he taxidermied, and pencilled on the bits of wood that he used as bases: “I ate body!” This is one of the many mad details, offered by the gallery text, which elevates the exhibition from being a rather dull collection of natural history specimens to a vivid social history. It plays on our

Relaxing with chickens and paint guns

This week I had one of those light-bulb moments. Of course, it comes in the middle of relaxing in bed, which can be quite disturbing. But I guess it's better than jumping naked out of the bath and running down the street. (Eureka! A streaker!) But I was thinking about the extinct great auk (and the lovely understated stuffed one in Norwich Museum) and that the eggs of the great auk were so understudied and precious that records of the patterns of all the known ones are carefully recorded and even available as reproductions! And somehow my brain cross wired with J A Fairfax Fozzard's X-rays of pregnant(?) chickens and that the egg does a sudden (and probably quite uncomfortable) 180 degree tu

Frog pants

Just a quick one today as a bit under the weather. Radio Four (or "the wireless" to many of us who never tune in to any other channel) this week has a couple of fun programmes looking at the less fluffy beasts: The Infinite Monkey Cage has a nice program (series 17, episode 5, which discusses why a scientist made pants for frogs (and ended up adding braces to stop the frogs taking them off). More details here - but sorry, no pictures :( In Our Time has a nice chat about cephalopods (where apparently women opt for the SEPHalopod pronunciation, whereas the men go for KEPHalopod), including how octopus arms have their own light sensors, to help with camouflage. Which just made me think of how