Treasures of exploration

 

Treasures of exploration
The third gallery of Treasures of the Natural World tells the stories of those who not only had a brilliant mind, but a brave heart and daring spirit. From Captain James Cook’s first voyage to Australia and New Zealand to Captain Robert Falcon Scott’s expedition to reach the South Pole and HMS Challenger’s 1872 exploration of the deep oceans. Each expedition yielded vital scientific evidence which was only attainable because these explorers dared to be pioneers. These inspiring stories of human endeavor adventure take place across vast oceans and remote lands. Leading to great discoveries in biology, oceanography and geology and vivid first-hand accounts and imagery of surprising new species, but ultimately a showcase of human endeavor and heart.
   At the exhibition:
Set sail for adventure! Jump aboard and embark on your quest to discover the unknown, much like the many explorers before you!
Highlights 
Antarctic Fossil Wood

Antarctic fossil wood

Carbonised wood
Antarctica
Carboniferious/Triassic Periods, around 323-201 million year old

Collected during Robert Falcon Scott’s second and ultimately tragic Terra Nova expedition, this piece of fossilized wood is highly significant. It is one of the earliest pieces of evidence that forests once grew on Antarctica and that the continent’s climate was once much warmer than it is today.

Emperor Penguin Chick Skin

Emperor Penguin chick skin

Antarctica


One of the first three emperor penguin chicks ever studied, this chick was collected by Robert Falcon Scott’s party in 1902 on the Discovery expedition. The chick’s stage of development proved that emperor penguins lay their eggs during the dark and bitterly cold Antarctic winter. On the Terra Nova journey, Scott planned to collect penguin eggs for further investigation.

Southern Cassowary, UK

Southern Cassowary

Walter Rothschild was fascinated by the southern cassowary, a large flightless bird found in Australia and New Guinea. He kept a number of live specimens at the family home, Tring Park in Hertfordshire, and had them prepared as taxidermy when they died. Although Rothschild thought the birds’ different coloured markings indicated many species, we now know there are only three.

HMS Challenger expedition

 HMS Challenger expedition
 

With corals, samples and slides, these specimens represent the first major scientific investigation of the oceans. HMS Challenger left British shores in 1872 for a three-and-a-half-year voyage around the world, criss-crossing the oceans, from South America to the Cape of Good Hope, Antarctica to Australia, the Fiji Islands and Japan.

The wealth of evidence the expedition brought back evolutionized our knowledge of the deep sea at the time.


Microfossil Christmas card

 Microfossil Christmas card 
 
Painstakingly created from microfossils by Arthur Earland (1866–1958), this slide spells out a Christmas greeting to his colleague Edward Heron-Allen (1861–1943). It reads ‘A.E. Xmas 1912’. Both men were micro palaeontologists at the Natural History Museum. They collaborated for 25 years and were responsible for analysing the foraminifera – small single-celled organisms – collected during Scott’s Terra Nova expedition to Antarctica.