Lab Soap Memories

I just finished the last wet lab of the year, and it was my last chance to wash my hands in the special anti-microbial lab soap, which, effective though it may be, always makes my hands smell funny.

Its been bugging me for years now, I could not place exactly what it was that smell reminded me of. And then it hit me. Its the smell of the entomology department of the Natural History Museum in London where I did a work experience placement a couple of years ago.

It was a bit of a crazy time, since they’d just been moved into one of the attic wings in preparation for the transfer to their new building, but I still had loads of fun.

I got to meet one of the world experts in centipedes, I got to see a potato masher used to extract DNA from a tarantula, I got to throw boxes across a crowded museum, and best of all, I got to see the archives.

I got shown all the different cases of insects they’d collected, and the one that sticks in my mind the most was the beetle that was full of holes. Conrad, my guide for the day, told me that it was a Goliath beetle that was mistaken for a small bird by a hunter, who promptly shot it out of the air.

So I was just looking for a picture of it to put in this post, and I just googled ‘beetle shotgun pellets natural history museum’ and there it was! I had never thought to google it in all this time.+

The pictures a little faint, but you can sort of see the marks on its carapace made by the shotgun pellets. If you click on the link, there’s an X-ray image showing the damage caused by the pellets.

Ahhh memories.

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