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The first ever Murder Mystery evening at National Museum Cardiff took place on 19th May 2015 and was linked to the ‘Museums at Night’ festival, which ran from 13-16th May and will run again 30th-31st October. The evening was organised by staff from the Department of Natural Sciences and was attended by over 90 adults.

Visitors were invited to attend a grand gala evening to witness the unveiling of the largest and most beautiful diamond in the world, being shown in Wales for the first time. However, the evening began with a missing diamond, a dead body and six potential suspects. The Museum was now in lock down for three hours with the killer trapped inside! After the Crime Scene Investigators had collected evidence from the murder scene and suspects, scientific tests were set-up throughout the Natural History galleries and visitors were requested to help with testing the evidence. They also had the opportunity to interrogate the six suspects and to try and determine ‘Whodunnit?’ before the killer struck again! Fortunately the event ended in the successful capture of the murderer and the diamond returned, with all visitors fortunately  unharmed.

This was a fantastic opportunity for visitors to explore the atmospheric galleries and main hall and see our galleries in a completely different atmosphere. We have received requests to run this event and other mysteries in the future, so check out the museum's What's on pages to see future events.

Our expedition has now drawn to a successful close. Our collections of several thousand specimens have (mostly) been successfully exported from Ecuador and initial analysis of them has started. Entomological expeditions to remote areas are great fun of course. However the less glamorous but harder work comes later, involving months or years of detailed study during which new species are described, evolutionary trees constructed, and ecological or biogeographic conclusions etc. are developed.

In the field there may be great excitement about finding a particular insect but to a scientist, the level of excitement can only grow as the real significance of the finding is revealed subsequently through painstaking study and reference to our already extensive collections. Already we have glimpses of results that might tell us more about how the insect fauna of the upper Amazon Basin came about. For example the unexpected presence of Cladodromia (a classic ‘Gondwanan’ genus) suggests there has been immigration from Patagonia whereas the high diversity of Neoplasta (which is essentially North American) hints at a south-bound migration along the Andes. On the other hand, an almost complete absence of Hemerodromia puzzles us as it is widespread in the lower Amazon so why didn’t we find it higher up? We suspect that the answer may be that it has only recently arrived in South America and is still spreading to Ecuador. Then again the unseasonal rains (due to a strong El Niño this year) may be a factor. Investigations continue.

In the field, our successes were often hard-won; difficult slogging through trying terrain, inclement weather, frustrating officialdom and many other factors sometimes worked against us it seemed, and intermittent access to the internet made writing these blogs challenging at times. We have been very fortunate in that our expedition was entirely and well-funded by the Brazilian Government as a part of their noble and ambitious efforts to understand the biodiversity of the Amazon. Our own exertions will plug one significant hole in knowledge and contribute to greater appreciation of Amazon biodiversity.

To read all of Adrian's entries, go to our Natural History Blog

One hundred schools across the UK are to be awarded Super Scientist Certificates on behalf of Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales in recognition for their contribution to the Spring Bulbs - Climate Change Investigation.

Huge Congratulations to all these schools!

A big ‘thank you’ to every one of the 5,539 pupils who helped this year! Thank you for working so hard planting, observing, measuring and recording - you really are Super Scientists! Each one of you will receive a certificate and Super Scientist pencil, these will be sent to your school by mid-May.

 Many thanks to the Edina Trust for funding this project.

 

Super Scientist Winners 2015

Well done to our three winners for their consistent weather data entries! Each will receive a class trip of fun-packed nature activities.

St. Brigid's School - Wales

The Blessed Sacrament Catholic Primary School - England

Winton Primary School - Scotland

 

Runner's up:

Betws Primary School

Carnforth North Road Primary School

Corsehill Primary School

St. Laurence Primary School

St. Michael's Primary School

St. Paul's Primary School

Wormit Primary School

 

Highly commended schools:

Balcurvie Primary School

Carnegie Nursery

Coleg Meirion Dwyfor

Coleg Powys

Eastfield Primary School

Fairlie Primary School

Freuchie Nursery

Gibshill Children's Centre

Greenburn School

Howwood Primary School

Keir Hardie Memorial Primary School

Kilmory Primary School

Maes-y-Coed Primary

SS Philip and James CE Primary School

St. Ignatius Primary School

St. Peter's CE Primary School

Wildmill Youth Club

Ysgol Bro Eirwg

 

Schools with special recognition:

Bancyfelin

Bickerstaffe CE Primary School

Binnie Street Children's Centre

Brodick Primary School

Carstairs Primary School

Coppull Parish Primary School

Dallas Road Primary School

Dyffryn Banw

Euxton Church of England Primary School

Garstang St. Thomas' CE Primary School

Guardbridge Primary School

Henllys CIW Primary

Kirkton Primary School

Llanharan Primary School

Morningside Primary School

Newport Primary School

Orchard Meadow Primary School

Pittenweem Primary School

Rhws Primary School

Rivington Foundation Primary School

Sacred Heart Primary and Nurseries

Skelmorlie Primary School

Stanford-in-the-Vale CE Primary School              

St Athan Primary

St Mellons Church in Wales Primary School

Trellech Primary School

Woodlands Primary School

Ynysddu Primary School

Ysgol Bryn Garth

Ysgol Deganwy

Ysgol Hiraddug

Ysgol Syr John Rhys

Ysgol Clocaenog

 

Schools to be awarded certificates:

Abbey Primary School

Albert Primary School

Arkholme CE Primary School

Baird Memorial Primary School

Balshaw Lane Community Primary School

Chapelgreen Primary School

Christ Church CP School

Chryston Primary School

Colinsburgh Primary School

Darran Park Primary

Fintry Primary School

Glencoats Primary School

Hafodwenog

Kilmacolm Primary School

Kings Oak Primary School

Llanishen Fach C.P School

Mossend Primary School

Our Lady of Peace Primary School

Preston Grange Primary School

Saint Anthony's Primary School

Silverdale St. John's CE School

St. Nicholas CE Primary School

St. Philip Evans RC Primary School

Swiss Valley CP School

Thorn Primary School

Tongwynlais Primary School

Torbain Nursery School

Townhill Primary School

Ysgol Bryn Coch

Ysgol Glan Conwy

Ysgol Iau Hen Golwyn

Ysgol Nant Y Coed

Ysgol Pencae

Ysgol Rhys Prichard

Ysgol Tal y Bont

Ysgol Treferthyr

Ysgol Y Plas

Glyncollen Primary School

Rougemont Junior School

 

 

Thank you for all your hard work Bulb Buddies,

Professor Plant

Back to civilization again - the regional capital of Loja, a small town nestled under forested Andean slopes and home to the regional Ministry of Environment where we must go once again, to obtain permission to move the samples we have collected back to Quito.

Unlike our previous brush with officialdom in Tena (our samples from there still have not been released!... but we have some local support to ensure that they eventually will be), the officials in Loja were helpful, polite and efficient! We had allowed 2 days to process the permissions in Loja, but in the event, we received our permits within 30 minutes, leaving us the best part of 2 days to explore the town and sample the local culture and cuisine.

Meanwhile, here are some more photos from our time in the field.

To read more about Adrian's travels, go to our Natural History blog page

A week has passed during which the rains slowly abated (at least for part of each day). Dryer vegetation means that our nets (and ourselves) don’t rapidly become water-sodden and we can catch insects more easily and effectively. Whenever the weather has allowed, we have been climbing through the forest searching for flies and enjoying a good measure of success in our quest.

Many of the species we have been catching belong in genera with which we have little familiarity; being rare and little-known, even to specialists such as ourselves. Finds such as these make all the hard slogging up precipitous slopes, cutting through dense vegetation, deep sucking mud and scratches and bites from a myriad of thorny plants and man-eating insects worthwhile! I guess you have to be a shade unhinged to enjoy this sort of thing. . . or a field entomologist perhaps?

Our time at Estación Científica San Francisco is now drawing to a close and tonight we have been sorting and labelling our samples carefully to ensure they are ready for shipment back to our bases in Cardiff and Manaus. Proper field curation of collected specimens is a vital part of expeditions such as ours, ensuring that all data (where/when an insect was captured, what it’s habitat was and how it was behaving etc. etc.) is properly cross-referenced with the actual samples. Were the samples to become detached from their data they would be rendered useless, of mere cosmetic interest.

To read more about Adrian's travels, go to our Natural History blog page