News Archive


2008Autumn 2008

This October saw over 30 new undergraduate volunteers working in the museum. Students who were trained last year in fluid preservation techniques have now passed their training on to the new first year Zoology students.

Summer 2008

Research on Monotreme and Marsupial Limb Covariation

Catherine Bennett from the University of Manchester visited the Cole Museum in July to gather data for her MSc. Her research concerns the evolutionary mechanisms controlling diversity of mechanical form and function (e.g. bodies suited to digging, swimming, climbing, flying etc) in mammals. She has been travelling to museums around the UK and to Paris and Berlin collecting photographic data of monotreme and marsupial limb bones. By photographing fore and hind limb bones of certain species she aims to perform morphometric analyses to determine covariance patterns within species of varying limb function. These covariance patterns may then help shed light on underlying characteristics of limb development and hence the evolution of mechanical diversity. 


Summer 2007

Cole Staff Trained by Simon Moore

In June 2007, staff at the Cole museum of zoology received training in fluid conservation techniques from Simon Moore, who is a national expert previously at the Natural History Museum.

The 3 day course was a great success and techniques will be passed on to other staff and students at the university.

Thursday, August 23rd 2007

Not so Many Fish in the Sea

In 1951 Rex Cowper graduated from Reading with a degree in Zoology and almost immediately took up an appointment with the CSIRO Division of Fisheries in Tasmania. Before leaving the department, he promised he would send the Cole Museum a specimen of the rare Australian Leafy Sea Dragon if he ever found one.

After 14 years of searching, a colleague of Rex’s working in the Western Australian fishing port of Albany was approached by tourists who had caught a ‘strange fish’ whilst snorkelling; it was a Leafy Sea Dragon (they are now a protected species!). Rex was finally able to fulfil his promise to Nelly Eales at Reading.

Until this year, Rex didn’t know if his Dragon had survived the ravages of time until he happened to see a photo of it in the University’s alumni magazine. He wrote immediately to the curator to say how thrilled he was to find that the Dragon was still in perfect condition and was on permanent display in the museum.

 Now in his 80s, Rex finally has a photograph of the fish he sought for 14 years. He said: “I’d almost forgotten what a beautiful creature it was when I set eyes on it for the very first time more than 40 or so years ago”.

Wednesday, June 27th 2007

Funding Secured for Cole Museum

The Arts and Humanities Research Council has just awarded over £43,000 to Dr Amanda Callaghan, School of Biological Sciences, as curator of the Cole Museum to fund a one year project – The Cole Museum of Zoology conservation management project.

This task will employ the country’s foremost natural history conservator, Simon Moore who has over 30 years of experience, to train Frank Southee, Kaye Daish and Dr Callaghan in techniques of natural history conservation. During the year, they will write a collections care plan and Frank will work systematically through specimens to conserve them to an acceptable state.

This year sees the centenary of the Cole Museum and it is hoped that by the end of this grant, the collection will be in a much better state of repair to survive into its second century. This work will also mean that the museum will be in a position to apply for accreditation, which will open new avenues of funding for the future.

Monday, March 26th 2007

Cole Centenary Celebrations a Great Success

The events held in March to celebrate the Cole Museums Centenary have been heralded as a great success. Both the public open day and the evening reception were well attended and we received a great deal of positive feedback both on an following the events.

The centenary was also marked by the unveiling of a special exhibition entitled, 'Zoology 1907-2007: A Century of Change' which highlighted the changes that have been witnessed in the science of Zoology in the hundred years since Francis Cole began his collection.

Monday, March 12th 2007

Cole Centenary Celebrations in March

On Saturday 24 March, the Cole Museum's Centenary is being celebrated with an open day event for the public. The theme of the event is to highlight the major changes in zoology that have taken place over the last century, including breakthroughs in genetics following the identification of DNA and the global extinction of animals. At the event the museum will be unveiling three new cases, allowing material not previously exhibited to be displayed. Conservation Biology will be a major theme and there will be talks (see below), activities for children of all ages and hands-on displays.

11.30 Turtle Track Sri Lanka: tracking endangered turtles. Peter Richardson, Marine Conservation Society.

14.00 Bird Extinctions and Conservation. Graham Holloway, School of Biological Sciences, UoR.

15.00 Mammal Extinctions in the past 100 years. Phil Baker, School of Biological Sciences, UoR.

The centenary is also to be marked by a public lecture on the 29th March in the AMS lecture theatre at 6.30pm on “A Century of Zoology”. This will be given by Professor Peter Holland, FRS, Linacre Chair of Zoology, Oxford University and a past curator of the museum. This event is free, but please apply for tickets, which can be sent internally (within the university) or picked up on the night. There will be admission on the door depending on numbers. This event is followed by a reception at 7.30 – 9.00pm in the Cole Museum of Zoology. Tickets for the reception are £2.50 and must be purchased in advance. There will be drinks and nibbles.

Friday, March 2nd 2007

small logoZoology 1907 - 2007: a century of change

The museum celebrates its 100th year in March. It is 100 years since Professor Cole became the first Professor of Zoology and began his zoological collection. Three new cases are being prepared for the museum centenary on the theme of change.

Monday, January 15th, 2007

2007Museum volunteers

A group of undergraduate and postgraduate students are now into their second term of volunteering each Wednesday afternoon in the museum. The students clean the specimens and cases, photograph specimens and help to organise new cases and events. They are pictured with staff and the newly cleaned elephant skeleton. Volunteers at the Museum of English Rural Life have also been helping by beginning the mammoth task of taking the handwritten catalogue and typing it into a database. Many specimens in the catalogue have detailed accompanying notes and it is important that these are recorded.


2005 volunteersWednesday, September 27, 2006


Great progress has been made in the production of the Cole Museum of Zoology CD-ROM which is being developed as part of the Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning in Applied Undergraduate Research Skills (CETL-AURS). LINK The CD-ROM has been designed as an in-depth learning resource for students and in particular to support the module in Animal Diversity, which is based on the Cole Museum. Staff and students involved in the development of this resource and in the restoration of specimens are pictured. Part of the CD-ROM is a picture guide to the specimens on display and will shortly be available as a touch screen display in the museum.

Top from left: Museum Curator Dr Amanda Callaghan, Mrs Kaye Daish, Mr Steve Foot. Bottom from left: Dr Nick Paling, Mr Xiao Zhao Ming and Ms Kerry Elliott.


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