Colour and Camouflage Case Contents
Abalone has a beautiful iridescence when polished, so has been used by people for many decorative purposes, including fish hooks you can see in the Heroes and Villains showcase in the Explorers and Collectors room.
Amber is fossilized tree sap. Its ability to trap and perfectly preserve insects was made famous by the film Jurassic Park, where dinosaurs were cloned using DNA from the blood of mosquitoes trapped in amber.
Atacamite is an unusual and attractive mineral. It forms in arid climates where copper minerals are exposed to oxidation- the Atacama Dessert in Chile, after which the mineral was named, is one of the driest places in the world.
Barite is a common mineral whose name derives from Greek and translates as ‘heavy’. Among one of its most useful functions is to block x-ray emissions and it therefore features in hospital and laboratory buildings as well as power plants.
Sturnira lilium from Ecuador
Can be found: Colour and Camouflage Collection
Black Quartz crystals
Quartz comes in virtually all the colours of the rainbow, depending on where it was formed and therefore the different trace elements it may contain. Black varieties are formed in volcanoes.
Blue Fossil Sharks Teeth from Beltinge, Herne Bay
Fossil shark’s teeth come in a variety of colours due to the different mineral compositions of the rocks they are found in. Look for the black and white and teeth in the rest of the display.
Chalcedony is another mineral robustly used in making bracelets, necklaces, earrings and costume jewellery. Its common varieties, such as agate, carnelian, chrysoprase or moss agate, are part of this display and demonstrate the richness of colour and texture of the mineral.
This is an adult colubrid snake preserved in alcohol. Colubrids are part of the largest family of snakes called Colubridae, and can be found on every continent except Antarctica. Their main characteristics include: few head scales, a smaller left lung, and no teeth at the tip of their mouth. Because of this they have a loose facial structure.
Colubrid snake – simotes arnesis or oligodon arnesis
Also known as the Banded kukri snake, this type of colubrid snake is nonvenomous and found in Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Bhutan and Nepal.
Cuttlefish are molluscs. They are similar to squids, octopuses, and nautiluses. Cuttlefish have a unique internal shell, the cuttlebone, which they use to control their buoyancy. They have W-shaped pupils, eight arms, and two tentacles. Of all invertebrates, they also have the largest brain in relation to their body size.
Egg capsules of Dog Whelk
Dog whelks are sea snails found commonly on the shores of the UK. They lay their eggs in small yellowish capsules which can be spotted under rocks and rocky overhangs in tidal waters. Each capsule contains up to a thousand eggs.
The iron sulphide Pyrite has often been mistaken for gold. It is a brassy yellow-coloured metal and occurs in similar contexts to gold. Because of its cubic molecular structure it forms near perfect cubes as a crystal.
Gold from the Klondyke
Gold is one of the most sought-after metals, not only for its beauty but also for its usefulness in the production of many things, including computers. In fact there is a very small amount of gold in your mobile phone! Gold is chemically very inert, so does not corrode like other metals and remains in the same state for countless millennia. There are examples of gold jewellery nearby in the Explorers and Collectors room.
Hydrozoa – antennularia antennina
Hydrozoa, or hydroids, are an invertebrate, with about 3,700 known species. Most hydroids live in salt water environments, but some have moved into freshwater habitats. They can either live separately or live in colonies.
Jade hand axe (Maori jade axe)
Jade is a very durable mineral that was originally used for the manufacture of axe heads and weapons. Because of the beautiful colour of some of its specimen, it later became incorporated into jewellery and ornamental objects.
Lizards are a large group of reptiles with over 6,000 species, found in all continents except Antarctica. Most lizards are quadrupedal (using all four feet) and run with a strong side-to-side motion. Some are legless, and have long snake-like bodies (slow worms). Lizards are mostly carnivores and use many different adaptations to protect themselves, including: venom, camouflage, and the ability to lose and regrow their tail.
Obsidian is formed from rapidly cooled volcanic lavas with high silica, thrust to the earth’s surface in the latter stages of a volcanic eruption. Because it has no crystal structure it can be break into very sharp pieces so is used to make surgical blades.
Commonly known as the Brazilian Little Owl, this South American butterfly is found from Guatemala to northern Argentina. Its eye-like markings mimic larger animals and deceive predators, or draw attention away from vulnerable body parts.
Painted bronzeback snake – Dendrophis pictus
It is a species of snake found in southeast Asia and Asia. It has slender, large eyes, and a head larger than its neck. Their backs have a bronze colour, and their bellies have white scales with bright blue scales along the side of the body. They are often found in trees or low bushes.
Plumed hydroid – sertularia abietina
Also known as a sea-fir, it lives in a colony. It can be identified by its 3-D-like branches forming a spiral colony resembling a fir tree. They are often found in rocky habitats with strong tides or waves.
Also known as Bryozoa, they are aquatic invertebrates that live in sedentary (fixed to one spot) colonies. They have a special ‘crown’ of tentacles, used for filter feeding. Most live in tropical waters, but some are found in oceanic trenches and polar waters
Agates are mainly the same composition as quartz. Like the different coloured varieties of quartz, such as amethyst and citrine, agates inherit their colours from the variations in composition of trace elements in the fluids that deposited the mineral layers. They are commonly cut and polished for souvenirs or ornaments.
Red Agate ornament
Like the different coloured varieties of quartz, such as amethyst and citrine, agates inherit their colours from the variations in composition of trace elements in the fluids that deposited the mineral layers. They are often cut and polished for souvenirs or ornaments..
Sea sponge – halichondria panicea
It is also known as the breadcrumb sponge because of the way it crumbles when one holds it. It is an invertebrate which varies in colour from dark green to light yellow and is often found in shaded rock openings or under rocky overhangs in the waters of the North Atlantic and Mediterranean Sea.
Snake – Hypsirhina enhydris
Also known as the rainbow water snake, this type of colubrid snake is mildly venomous, with fangs at the back of their mouth, and are found mostly in South and Southeast Asia.
Sulphur is a poisonous but essential mineral. It smells like rotten eggs. It occurs in abundance around volcanoes and has many uses in fertilisers, fumigants, fungicides and pesticides, and in the manufacture of matches, fireworks and other explosives. Yellow colour in nature often signifies poison.
A vibrantly coloured variety of quartz named after its resemblance to the slit eye of a cat. It is formed when blue asbestos (crocidolite) is replaced by silicon dioxide and it gets its colour from oxidation of iron minerals. This sample comes from South Africa.
You can see several specimens on display that are preserved in alcohol. Alcohol is a natural preservative, not only does it help to prevent bacterial growth but in high enough doses it actively kills bacteria.
Can be found: Colour and Camouflage Collection
Yellow butterflies and moths
They include the Swallowtail butterfly, Brimstone moth, Swallow-tailed moth, Speckled yellow, Cream-spot tiger, Common yellow underwing, Death’s-head hawk moth, Oak eggar, Apricot sulphur, Cloudless sulphur and Orange-barred sulphur. These sulphur butterflies are from Central America and southern North America.