The Straits Times created an infographic of the Singapore sperm whale that explains more about the way of life of this majestic creature, and what the museum discovered about her.
Sperm whales are one of the most capable divers of all mammals. How do they cope with the pressure, and find their food?
Explore the infographic and check out the exhibit starting 15 Mar 2016 at the museum!
Image source: The Straits Times
The commonly eaten flower crab or swimming crab actually comprises 4 species.
This research finding recently featured on The Straits Times was published in the Raffles Bulletin of Zoology in 2010 by museum staff Dr Joelle Lai, Prof Peter Ng and Dr Peter Davie of the Queensland Museum.
It shows the importance of biodiversity research and its applications in the management of commercial fisheries, particularly of the concern about over-harvesting.
Read the Straits Times report here: http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/a-single-name-for-4-species-of-swimming-crabs
Read the original research paper here: A Revision of the Portunus pelagicus (Linnaeus, 1758) species complex (Crustacea: Brachyura: Portunidae), with the recognition of four species.
Missed the media coverage of our conservation efforts on the sperm whale?
Here is a compilation of the media coverage on the sperm whale so far!
©Straits Times ©Lianhe Zaobao
©Lianhe Zaobao ©Lianhe Wanbao
©Straits Times ©Today
©Straits Times ©Lianhe Wanbao
Copyright of the articles belong to the respective media outlets.
Online news content:
A trip to the history museum opens new vistas for kids but is it all a little too much?
by Clara Chow
Wake up on a Sunday, convinced you have to do something educational with your children. Trawl websites for ideas.
Decide to go to Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum. Buy tickets online and print them out while still wearing your pyjamas.
Drag children, groaning, out of the house. Drive to the museum. Find it because it looks like a giant lump of moss-covered clay. Beat a beat-up Mazda to a prime parking space. Whole family cheers.
Hang out at the eco-roof garden until your allotted time of entry. Wrestle with the museum’s official app. Point out mangrove plants in the garden, the spores on the underside of fern leaves and fish fry in the ponds. Natter on.
Look up, and realise that the kids are squinting at their father’s iPhone screen in the bright sunlight. Throw a fit.
Go back downstairs; go through the turnstiles. Feel a slight sense of urgency: Everything must be examined in less than two hours, before your time is up.
Battle other parents to lift the almost-six-year-old up to the eye pieces of microscopes to look at bacteria. Keep opening your mouth to pontificate about fungi and molluscs. Keep stopping in mid-sentence, when you realise your kids have run off. Look sheepishly at strangers.
Give up and, alone, examine the bank of creatures preserved in jars along a back-lit wall. Marvel at sea whips, daisy sponges, fat-armed jellyfish and a Reeve’s turtle – long dead, and suspended in chemicals and time. Gawk and shudder a little at worm specimens.
Flit back and forth between display case and wall captions – a busy bee soaking up facts. You are taller than most of the kids crowding around but you feel eight again. You remember the excitement of school excursions, the thrill of looking at something other than textbooks.
Try and ignore the fact that your two sons are having pretend lightsabre fights and running in circles somewhere in the biodiversity gallery, their footsteps echoing. Pretend not to know them.
Go for micro over macro. Remain strangely unimpressed by the expensive dinosaur bones rising like cranes up to the ceiling in the centre of the room.
Systematically catalogue every tiny cowrie shell and beetle with your eyes. Imagine you are a camera. Thai zebra tarantula. Click. Crucifix swimming crab. Click. Carpenter bee. Click.
File away facts to use, either casually in conversation or in some literary short story you will one day write: Jewel beetles (Chrysochroa toulgoeti) are shiny and metallic-looking, not because of pigmentation but because of the way their exoskeletons reflect light.
One of your children comes to you and begs to go home.
Too late, you remember that he has a deep phobia of snakes, and an aversion to other reptiles and insects. This effectively rules out more than two-thirds of the exhibits at the museum.
You tell him you will steer him to the mammal section.
Tell him it is safe there. You put your hands over his eyes, and your husband takes one of his hands, his younger brother the other and, together, the entire family – like some strange new eight-legged and six-eyed insect – crawl slowly, excruciatingly, across the atrium, under the mirthless gaze of the dinosaurs.
Along the way, you try to get your children to stroke a panel of possum fur because it is soft like a dream. The elder son screams because he spots a scrap of bleached snake skin right next to the fur.
You realise that sand dollars are actual living things – not lost money on the beach, which is what you always pictured them as being when reading about them in books.
The clash between old ways and philosophies, and new identities and nationalities, intensifies after you climb the stairs to the Heritage Gallery. Singapore founder Sir Stamford Raffles’ stuffed birds and monkeys sit quietly, a few cabinets down from a drawer containing a Singapore $1 bill featuring a photo of a black-naped tern taken by Datuk Loke Wan Tho, who built up Cathay Organisation.
The children press buttons in the sound booth. They have exhausted the possibilities of the dinosaur app.
Standing in front of showcases, you wonder about the Victorian obsession for pigeonholing dead creatures into curio cases that
the museum’s collection sprung from. You laugh inwardly at the arrogance of men, colonial masters, trying to fix their world, insisting on stasis, even as
Nature refuses to be pinned down. You see the error of your ways, trying to herd your children’s imagination through life, so they learn the way you do.
Meditating in front of the jars of pickled snakes, you overhear one young man telling a few others that the python coiled up over there has two penises, and one of them is showing.
“Why?” you blurt out, before you can stop yourself.
“Why what?” he asks, startled.
“What is the second one for?” you ask.
“I don’t really know,” he replies.
Months later, you will still be wondering about this. You will look it up on the Internet and find an explanation: Female snakes are able to control which male snake they mate with will fertilise their eggs, so having two penises helps the male increase their sperm count, maximising their chances of reproduction. You will realise you need to wait for the younger son to grow up before you have someone to tell it to.
But in the museum, you nod at the young men, who scurry away from you, embarrassed.
What you must do next is this: Gather your children. Tell them it’s time to go home. Stop by the gift shop if necessary, and buy yourself a piece of petrified wood.
Drive away, and cheer again as a family when you realise that parking is free. Promise yourself to do this again.
That some of it will sink in.
|“Must not be afraid of dead animals” That is the most important trait when working in the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum, according to our Specialist Associate Ms Chen Mingshi in an interview with Her World Magazine.|
Kate (middle), our conservator together with Iffah (left) and Mingshi (right) working hard to get the gallery ready before we officially open to public
Getting the museum ready for visitors is hard work. Our Museum staff indulge in some moon-gazing during a much needed break!
So come along down to the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum and listen to what some of our researchers work on in the museum!
If you are currently an NUS student and you are looking for a part time job, come join us at the Museum. Read more about it here!
The Her World Magazine feature on Chen Mingshi is a copyright of Her World Magazine, SPH Magazine.
Photographs of museum staff at work is courtesy of Marcus Chua
WHAT’S in a name? Plenty, when compiling a list of animals in Hokkien.
What started out as a hobby for two curators at the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum has evolved into a labour of love that documents, for the first time, Hokkien animal names as they are used here.
Called Minnan (Hokkien) Animal Names Used In Singapore, the 58-page directory was published as an e-book on the museum’s website earlier this month, and can be downloaded for free.
Apart from common translations like kau (dog), the directory of more than 300 animal names, complete with photos, lists some less-heard-of ones, such as hai tur (literally translated as sea pig, which refers to the dolphin) and even mythical creatures like the hong (phoenix).
Its main aim is to document Hokkien animal names and their pronunciations as they are used in Singapore, said Mr Tan Siong Kiat, 41, one of the two men behind the project. The other is Mr Kelvin Lim, 48.
“The translations were compiled from memory, experience, and from Hokkien speakers who are mainly the older members of our families and social circles,” said Mr Tan.
The names are not simply direct translations from Mandarin. Rather, they are colloquial names used by ancestors to refer to animals, and both men stressed that the list is “neither comprehensive nor authoritative” .
For example, the tapir, a herbivorous mammal that people seldom encounter, does not appear to have a Hokkien name yet, although the curators admit it is possible that they just “have not met or talked to anybody who knows”.
“People have come forward to tell us (animal) names that have been omitted,” said Mr Tan, and more names will be added, should there be a second edition of the book.
The directory could be a resource for those keen on learning more about Hokkien, although it is not a guide on how to speak it, the writers said.
Nature lovers and guides who talk to older folk may also find it useful.
“Our grandmothers wouldn’t understand us if we tried to talk to them about interesting animals using their English names,” noted Mr Tan.
The directory had its beginnings in mid-2013, when a volunteer at the museum, then called Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, wanted to learn more about Hokkien, said Mr Tan.
So Mr Tan and Mr Lim, both native Hokkien speakers, started conversing with her in Hokkien. These conversations sparked the idea to compile a list of Hokkien animal names.
Said Mr Tan: “Singlish now seems to be the lingua franca for young Singaporeans.
“We hope the book will be useful for those of Hokkien descent who are interested in discovering their roots.”
Undergraduate Sean Yap, 23, a volunteer guide at the museum as well as with Naked Hermit Crabs, which holds nature tours for the public, believes the directory will help him connect with his audience.
“When guiding, we try to be as conversational and colloquial as possible, and it really helps when you can connect with the people and how they view wildlife,” he said.
Businessman Michael Jow, 39, the moderator of the Facebook group, Revival of Non-Mandarin Chinese Vernaculars in Singapore, said that the directory is useful.
Mr Jow, who is also the leader of the Singapore Hokkien Meetup Group, said that the directory gives students a good background, with its list of “colloquial terms used by our ancestors”.
The directory is available at lkcnhm.nus.edu.sg/nus/images/pdfs/lkcnhm_ebooks/singapore_minnan_animal_names.pdf