Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Trip to Natural History Museum


Monkey fish, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

I left Fiona down in Brighton after our walk with the dogs and took the train up to London, where I had hoped to walk around with my camera and take a few photos before hopping over to Kensington to visit the Natural History Museum. As it turned out, the weather was worse in London that it had been in Brighton, so it was a trip along the excellent Jubilee line ot Westminster and the Circle to South Kensington, our local Underground station from when we had the flat in Chelsea, in the mid-1980's.

It took a while to get my bearings and after a tuna salad ciabatta, I found my way to the Cromwell Road and entered the Natural History Museum for the first time in what might have been 30 years! The skeleton of the dinosaur was still there to greet us and everything seemed, at first glance to be pretty much as I had left it. However, I was to see eventually that the museum has moved away from stuffed animals and boxes of dead insects and butterflies to more interactive exhibits and, of course, dinosaurs. These seem to dominate the museum, and certainly the shop, where it is clear that children seem to have as much fascination for the amazing dinosaurs as they do for living creatures. I was fascinated too at their age.

Well, I could not believe my luck at being surrounded by the very animals about which I had been reading including the salamanders, frogs, sharks, rays, bony fish and, even, lampreys.... all concestors discussed in Richard Dawkins' Ancestors' Tale.. and this was just for a start, as there was also a section upstais about the apes and our more recent ancestry.

However, I was disappointed `to be told that the Darwin Centre was closed and that today, the Monday, there were to be no tours, as was advertised... especially as there seemed to be enough staff standing around in their red uniforms.

Anyway, there was plenty else to gaze at and admire such as the duck-billed platypus, the thylacine, the blue whale and various mammoth skeletons, a section on insects and spiders. It was great seeing all these and understanding better how they are all related and what defines each group. No doubt amongst the men at the Museum about the truth of evolution, facts being presented as facts. And one of the great things about the theory of evolution is that the more one discovers about living organisms, the more the theory of evolution can be used to explain their looks or behaviour or whatever has been observed.

Later I would take a long journey on public transport to Chiswick to spend the evening with my god-daughter and family.

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