Favourites on Friday - Butterflies at the Museum

Last Friday, the boys and I treated ourselves to a day out in London, at the Natural History Museum. 

This is the first time we’ve been to the museum on a Saturday, and talk about heaving!  We’d booked tickets for the butterfly exhibition, and had just under an hour to kill before going in – Liam and I went to check out the minerals, and the vault, while Gordon went to visit his favourite, the T-Rex. 

The mineral collection is vast; even if you spent one full day in there, I still don’t think it would be enough time to see everything!

The length of the mineral room; the entrance to the vault is at the other end

Even the pillars are works of art

 Aurora Pyramid of Hope ~ 296 naturally coloured diamonds, which took more than 25 years to collect.  They show the full range of colours in which diamonds can be found.  Ultraviolet light shows another quality to these gems, colours which are usually hidden when viewed in normal light.  For the owners, the collection represents the natural beauty of the earth.

Wulfenite crystals ~ delicate butterscotch coloured crystals found in the Glove mine in Arizona in 1958.

Boulder opals, just like m favourite pendant ...

Peridot ~ ‘Zabargad, a tiny island in the Red Sea, is famous for the deep green stone … Over hundreds of years, the island has been lost and rediscovered many times by different civilisations.  At one time it was fiercely defended by the Ancient Egyptians, at another it was ruled by pirates.  More recently, it has been mined by private western companies.  This crystal, one of the largest ever found, and the magnificent step-cut stone next to it, display the most prized bottle green colour.

Peridot on the left; topaz on the right ... sorry, can't remember what the one in the middle is

Watermelon tourmaline ~ ‘… tourmaline often occurs in crystal-lined pockets deep underground.  These pockets are sometimes disturbed by mining or natural forces in the Earth’s crust, which causes the crystals to break up.  This one has been carefully restored … rose-centred crystals, sheathed with green, are also known as watermelon tourmaline because if you cut a slice across the crystal, it resembles a slice of the fruit.

The butterfly exhibition wasn’t as ‘big’ as I was expecting, and I did feel a little disappointed.  But then it’s not every day you get the chance to have loads of butterflies flying all around you, so no reason to feel ‘bad’ about it.  There was a notice before going in that stated it would be hot and humid inside as the butterflies thrive in that atmosphere … We stepped in, and it was like stepping out of the air-conditioned airport in Kuala Lumpur!  Instant sweat, and the boys’ glasses fogged up.  Glad there wasn’t a mirror anywhere around – did not want to see what state my hair was in!

Tried filming the butterflies, but that was more difficult than I realised it would be … it was so hard trying to keep them in frame.  There was a gorgeous blue one but it proved quite elusive to the camera.

The size of this caterpillar – even the boys exclaimed loudly and they’ve seen more of this sort of stuff than I have.  It’s the caterpillar of the Atlas Moth, the largest moth in the world, with a wingspan of over 9 inches ...

… and this is an adult Atlas Moth – Big!

Here's a little of what I managed to film of the elusive creatures ...

Would have liked to spend longer amongst the butterflies, but the heat and humidity – cannot believe I’m saying that about London in September! – was getting unbearable.  Stepping outside was so deliciously cool, we just stood there with our arms out for a few moments.

'Parts of a trunk from a primitive tree unearthed in 1854 at Craigleith Quarry, in Edinburgh … excavated from rocks 330million years old, the lower Carboniferous Period …’ This tree stump, then, is older than the dinosaurs, which appeared in the Triassic period, 248-208million years ago.

We always go in the main entrance that has the diplodocus, but as we were near the other entrance, which leads directly to the ‘Earth’ galleries (which can also be accessed from the ‘main’ building), we went back in that way.  A recent addition is this stunning stegosaurus skeleton.  I really like this display with the ‘earth’ in the background.

‘… the most intact Stegosaurus fossil skeleton ever found, with more than 90% of its bones present.  Because all these bones belonged to a single animal, this specimen shows better than ever before what Stegosaurus would have looked like in life.  It took 18 months to dig this fragile skeleton out of the ground, after its discovery in 2003 at Red Canyon Ranch, Wyoming …

It's always thrilling going up the escalator into the 'earth' ... 

Took a little video of the outside, and as I went up, hopefully it gives an idea of what it's like.

'This giant alabaster bowl and pedestal, or tazza, was presented to the Museum of Geology (now the Earth galleries), by the Duke of Devonshire for the Museum opening in 1851

After lunch, we thought we’d stroll through the dinosaur section.  But, first time ever, there was a queue!!  Just to get in.  And from what we could see, once inside, it was a slow crawl, it was that busy.  Gordon said it hadn’t been like that when he’d gone in earlier – note to self, next time, dinos first then everything else.  Liam suggested we go look at a section we’d never visited before, but we thought we’d seen everything in the museum over the years.  Turns out we’d never been to ‘Fishes, Reptiles and Amphibians’!

Skeleton of an Indian python

Boa constrictor

Snapping turtle

Stump-tailed skink - I love these, they are so adorable!

Flying lizards

Frilled lizard

Skeleton of a frog - fascinating feet

Salamander, and skeleton of giant Japanese salamander


Skeleton of a crocodile

This next lot are denizens of the deep, very rarely seen, mainly because it's so dark where they live ... They are so weird-looking, more like something out of someone's fevered imagination!  Especially the one at the bottom of the first picture, with the big head, called an umbrella-mouthed gulper - how can that head work with that ... body??

Umbrella-mouthed gulper

 ... and this one - does he ever get caught up on anything?

The 'sword' of a swordfish

 Megalodon tooth on the left - this extinct relative of the great white shark lived about 15.9-2.6 million years ago, and grew to over 50ft.  The 'little' tooth on the right is from a great white shark, which grows to just over 20ft.

This little fishy got caught in the shell, and the mother of pearl formed over it

Giant clam

A few pictures on the journey home … the London Eye from the train, just after leaving Waterloo station ...

Coming into Southampton ...

Huge cruise ship at Southampton docks ...

Leaving Southampton ...