#SciFri: Life in the Dark

The Natural History Museum is quite possibly my ideal image of what utopia looks like, I’ve been going there for over 20 years and it’s my home away from home. Whenever a new exhibit is announced, I try to visit as soon as possible no matter what the subject area is. Recently the museum hosted it’s Venom exhibit and one before that was on whales. As a herpetologist I sometimes forget not everything I see or do has to be something to do with reptiles or amphibians. Recently I visited the new ‘Life in the Dark’ exhibit at the museum which really went above and beyond my expectations. There was me being naive and expecting the whole thing to be purely on nocturnal animals such as bats and owls, boy was I wrong!

The first hall that the exhibit opens out into exploring the lives of familiar nocturnal animals

Not only does the exhibit have a number of nocturnal animals on display but there is also lots of information alongside them, helping you to discover how each animal finds their way around their environment, hunt in the dark, mate and evade predators. Some of the habitats I’d overlooked but are explored in lots of detail include those such as caves and the deep sea. There are lots of tactile and olfactory displays too which really helps to make the exhibit accessible to everyone. The attention to detail is second to none with a brilliant cave with the simulated shadows of a bats. You’ll be happy to hear that there are a number of amphibians and reptiles hidden in the exhibit but by far my favorite section was that exploring the beauty of underwater bioluminescence.

Some of the animals from the deep sea

There aren’t just dead animals in jars on display, there are also blind cave fish as well (that lack eyes) which are very cool!  The caves in that these fish live have evolved is so dark that there is no need for them. They also lack pigment or camouflage and are ghostly white, like most cave dwelling animals which is a cool example of convergent evolution. This is also seen the olm (pictured below), which is one seriously cool amphibian! That’s about as much as I feel comfortable revealing so please do visit as I’m sure you’ll love it! You’ve got until 6 January 2019 to visit and don’t forget that it will cost you £11.50.

An olm!

Apologies for the poor quality of some of the photos, my iPhone struggled with some of the lighting.

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