Biology and classification in the museum

This is a Dutch video about the natural history museum.

As I said, the exhibition on biology and classification in the museum starts with the seventeenth century, and the eighteenth century of Linnaeus and Buffon.

It ends with new developments in subjects like DNA research, which also led to the museum finding out some clouded leopards in their collection were in fact Bornean clouded leopards, recently discovered to be a separate species.

In between, many interesting points on animals.

The oldest holotype animal in the collection of the museum is from 1758.

It was described by Linnaeus himself, though he saw only a drawing of the animal, not the stuffed animal itself.

It is a gray four-eyed opossum from Latin America.

Linnaeus’ name is still behind this species’ name. However, between (brackets); as Linnaeus put this opossum in the genus Didelphis, while later science did not do that any more; though it still is in the family Didelphimorphia.

Another holotype at this exhibition is from Madagascar.

It is a Northern Giant Mouse Lemur (Mirza zaza).

The animal had been in a formaldehyde bottle in the museum for a long time, before it was discovered in 2005 that it was a separate species.

When new animal species are discovered, they are often called after people whom the discoverers know.

In this way, there were six animal species exhibited, named after Willem Vervoort, former director of the museum.

They are a soft coral, Dendronephtya vervoorti; another soft coral, Sindonia vervoorti; a candy coral, Distichopora vervoorti; sea firs, Eudendrium vervoorti; a copepod, Pseudochiella vervoorti; and a jewel damselfly, Watuwila vervoorti.

Of the estimated five thousand parasitic wasp species in the Netherlands, almost three thousand are present in the museum. Most are smaller than three millimeter; the ones exhibited here were bigger species.

The museum has a big collection of plant and animal fossils from the Carboniferous age. In the coal mines which used to be in Limburg province, 75,000 fossils were found. Including insect wings.

Recently, in 2003, an insect which had been considered extinct, was re-discovered in Zuid Holland province: the chequered history diving beetle Graphoderus bilineatus; see also here. This species depends on unpolluted water.

The classification of life: From Aristotle to Woese: here.

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