4,000 species on display at Queensland Museum

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The rare Longman’s Beaked Whale, whose skull is on display.

To celebrate the unveiling of Queensland Museum’s latest display, 4000 Species, museum curators are bringing out the A-Z of species cataloguing the wonderful and diverse range of species they have played a role in discovering over the Museum’s 152 year history.

From the skull of a rare Longman’s Beaked Whale to a beautiful, yet endangered species of butterfly and small but nasty carnivorous snail, these and many other species will be showcased, some for the first time on Wednesday, 6 August.

The 4000 Species display is an interactive exhibition that takes visitors on a journey from discovery to naming.

Through the touchscreen you can explore more than 4000 species of tropical and sub-tropical life and learn how they were named and by whom.

Dr Robert Raven, Senior Curator (Arachnida) & Head of Terrestrial Environments said people enjoy finding names for things, whether it’s a house, boat, pet or product and natural scientists were no different.

“We have great fun making names of species and families such as animal groups,” he said.

“The names may be simply based on some part of the anatomy, after a place, another animal on which they live or even after people.

“Even so, there are formal rules in place on how the names must be formed, if the species is named after a male, an ‘I’ is added to the end, while females have an “AE” added.

“And like many others, the Queensland Museum Network scientists and associates have often struggled with the naming process.”
Included within the species featured are 10 dinosaurs, 50 mammals, 89 birds, 370 crustaceans and more than 1100 spiders.

And of the list that now exceeds 4000, Dr Raven has named over 370.

Dr Raven said if a species is named after a person, it is often considered a great honour, even for President Bush who has a Slime Mould Beetle named in his honour.

“Sometimes the honour is given simply because the person gave us the animal or collected it, they may have made wonderful contributions to the museum and its research or sometimes the scientist just wants to express their appreciation for an artist,” he said.

4000 Species is now open on Level Two Queensland Museum Southbank.

The Queensland Museum and Sciencentre open daily from 9:30am to 5pm except Good Friday, Anzac Day, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. southbank.qm.qld.gov.au

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