Raffles Museum news
Research and education at the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, Department of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science, National University of Singapore.
05 Jul 2007 - Raffles Museum News has shifted to http://news.rafflesmuseum.net
Wed 22 Nov 2006
Expedition Santo 2006 - Straits Times report
Category : research
"Expedition Santo 2006: Global Biodiversity Survey from sea bottom to ridge crests" - Tan Heok Hui, Tan Swee Hee, Jose Christopher Mendoza and Peter Ng participated in the Santos 2006 expedition in September 2006.
In late October, they were interviewed by the local broadsheet, The Straits Times and an article appeared a couple of weeks later. I inserted photos Swee Hee sent me and Li Ling obligingly sent me her photo of a living robber crab (not from this expedition).
By Jessica Lim. The Straits Times, 10 Nov 2006.
The four were part of global team which combed Pacific islands in major expedition.
CHILLI crab eaters need not apply. Four National University of Singapore (NUS) researchers did. Crab lovers in the academic sense, they joined a global research team which spent six weeks scouring the seabeds off Vanuatu, a pristine group of islands in the South Pacific. The team braved 6m swells to dredge buckets of debris from depths of up to 300m, eel bites and 12-hour days sifting through debris using tweezers.
Crabby long legs is cave dweller
The Discoplax longipes (long legs in Latin) is a land crab that can grow up to half a metre in leg span. Like most other land crabs, it has sensory hairs on its legs which it uses to 'taste' chemicals in the air, directing it to food. The nocturnal crab is commonly found in caves near the coast, but returns to the water periodically to re-wet its gills and lay eggs.
For food, this 2.5kg hermit crab scales coconut trees, cuts the fruits down with its claws and pries them open to get to the fleshy bits. The world's largest arthropod, it can grow up to 35cm in width, inclusive of its pincers. Commonly referred to as the robber crab, it is known to creep into villagers' homes to steal food and attack people with its claws. The species is a delicacy in the islands of Vanuatu.
Fri 27 Oct 2006
Basics of ecology in two hours!
Category : people
A couple of years ago, our dean at the Faculty of Science realised the Research Officers in the Raffles Museum could teach, so he put us to work.
So we became Research Officers/Instructors and Swee Hee, Heok Hui and I starting teaching undergraduate courses. We now agonise over biodiversity modules that have to compress significant topics into mere morsels!
Lecture preparation is agonsing - how much to leave out? How much time to sacrifice on theatrics in order to embed concepts into students' minds?
It's an interesting challenge and each year we tweak our lectures more and more, and add more and more local content, which is fun! Here Swee Hee is studiously preparing for a lecture that's coming up at 12pm. He has just two hours to impart the basics of ecology to General Biology students. Good luck mate!
Thu 26 Oct 2006
Santo 2006 expedition participants interviewed
Category : research
26 Oct 2006 - Straits Times reporter, Jessica Lim, dropped by the Raffles Museum to interview Raffles Museum participants of Expedition Santo 2006.
The four, Tan Heok Hui, Tan Swee Hee, Jose Christopher Mendoza and Peter Ng were on the island of Santo in Vanuatu between 8 Sep - 22 Oct 2006.
It was an interesting trip full of pleasant surprises and members only suffered delayed luggage, one sprained ankle, one strained back and one moray eel bite!
We've been too busy to blog about it but promise to catch up in the days ahead...
Wed 30 Aug 2006
The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology, Vol. 54, No. 2 (31 August 2006)
Category : pub
Volume 54 Number 2 of The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology is published today, 31 Aug 2006. All the articles are immediately available for free download at the bibliography page, pdfs of The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology, 1928 - 2006. - Link.
The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology, Vol. 54, No. 2 (31 August 2006): Pp. 203-492.
Tue 11 Jul 2006
Borneo Suckers launched on 7th July 2006
Category : pub
Kota Kinabalu, Fri 07 Jul 2006 - Heok Hui went up to Sabah for the launch of his book, "The Borneo Suckers. Revision of the Torrent Loaches of Borneo (Balitoridae: Gastromyzon, Neogastromyzon)" by C. L. Chan's Natural History Publications (Borneo). More photos on the flickr album.
A seminar about the Borneo Suckers by Heok Hui has been arranged for this Friday 14 Jul 2006: 10am, at the DBS Conference Room (Blk S3, Level 5), Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore, Science Drive 4. Visitors may park at Carpark 10 (see map). A few copies of the book will be available for sale then at a cost of S$90 (hardcover).
Wed 21 Jun 2006
The most acccurate rendition of that most unfortunate bird (species), the Dodo
Category : dinosaurs
The Dinosaurs! exhibition might be filed with towering and fearsome dinosaurs from the Cretaceous, but one recent bird captured the imagination of all involved in setting up the exhibition - the Dodo.
Finally, there exists an accurate rendition of this unfortunate species; in fact the model specially prepared for the exhibition by Phil Fraley Productions is the most accurate model of the species in the world to date. That's little comfort of course, since "Extinction is Forever!"
Phil Fraley, by the way, has "25 years of experience producing natural history museum exhibits" and led the team that mounted the actual fossil T. rex Sue at The Field Museum in Chicago. That weighed more than 1,500kg
I was away during the highly anticipated unveiling but Heok Hui's photos captured an excitement that threatened to surpass the assembly of the well-known dinosaurs in the Singapore Science Centre's Annex on 17th May 2006. Meanwhile, Tan ("Dino-boy") Swee Hee emailed me the document that Peter had enthusiasticallly drummed up for the exhibit.
The Dodo (Raphus cucullatus) model by Phil Fraley Productions.
Photos by Tan Heok Hui, 17th May 2006.
Tue 20 Jun 2006
Akan Datang (Coming Soon) - Borneo Suckers, a new book by Tan Heok Hui
Category : pub
Tue 30 May 2006
Cranbrook and Pangolins
Category : people
The Earl of Cranbrook was conferred a Sarawakian honour last September (2005) - "Gathorne Earl of Cranbrook was the sole recipient of the Panglima Negara Bintang Sarawak (Honorary) (PNBS(H)" (Bernama).
He dropped by the Raffles Museum on a brief visit on a stopover on the way to Sarawak once again. He did mention that he's a Datuk twice over - congratulations on the new grandkid, GC!
He spent some time at the Dinosaurs! exhibition at Peter Ng's urging and got his hand stamped with that special Dino imprint! Wheen he came back late after lunch, he bumped into me at the office. This time round it was not swiftlets he was after but pangolins so Norman Lim dragged out some of his recent specimens.
I accompanied them downstairs to the lab andd watched as he extracted the meta tarsal of a roadkill from Singapore as Norman watched.
Norman says pangolin road kills are still relatively common on the Bukit Timah Expressway, something that seeems to have been happening continuously since th BJE was first laid down
Looking on is Heok Hui who named a species of Gastromyzon after GC. He passed him copies of the paper he publshed the names in. Gastromyzon cranbrooki is found just 20 metres upstream of the Kuala Belalong Field Studies Centre!
Mon 29 May 2006
Third species of Paedocypris found in Bukit Bauk, Terengganu, Malaysia
Category : southeastasia
DUNGUN: A third species of the world's smallest fish from the genus Paedocypris has been found in a peat swamp in the foothills of Bukit Bauk urban recreational forest.
Biology lecturer Amirrudin Ahmad of Kolej Universiti Sains [& Teknologi] Malaysia discovered the fish during a three-day scientific expedition in the reserve.
The first freshwater specimen, Paedocypris megamegenthes, was found in Kuching and Bukit Merah, Perak, in 2001. The second, identified as Paedocypris progenitica, was found in Sumatra in 2004.
"This discovery was the highlight of the Bukit Bauk expedition," said Professor Datuk Dr Abdul Latiff Mohammad, who led the team. "We are confident this will attract biologists from around the world to do more research on the bio-diversity of Bukit Bauk," he added.
Amirrudin said the new discovery was significant because it was the only undisturbed habitat of this species. "There are still thousands of the fish in that peat swamp. My worry is that this habitat will end up like the one in Bukit Merah, disturbed by the construction of a road that killed all the specimens," he said.
The Bukit Bauk expedition also uncovered many rare herbaceous and plant species, as well as insects, bats and birds. Abdul Latiff said Bukit Bauk was an important gene bank for a variety of herbs and rare plants, including palms and ginger. The expedition ended yesterday.
Tue 28 Mar 2006
30 Mar 2006: 12pm - Kottelat on "2400 years of Ichthyology"
Category : bejc
"2400 years of Ichthyology, but an inventory still far from complete."
Host: Tan Heok Hui
Thursday, 30th March 2006
DBS Conference Room
About the talk - '2400 years' alludes to the number of years since the first comprehensive scientific fish work was published by Aristotelis. Very little of similar influence was published until the mid-16th Century. Maurice discusses recent estimates on the total number of fishes, known and unknown, and the basis for these numbers, and discusses why a higher increase of newly discovered species will be revealed in fresh waters rather than marine environments. However, many newly discovered taxa remain undescribed due to a shortage of trained taxonomists and that the publication pace needs to increase for a chance to provide data for management, conservation and research.
About the speaker - Maurice is the world leading authority on the taxonomy of Eurasian freshwater fishes, with a focus on species diversity and classification. He is one of the most experienced field workers in ichthyology and has conducted numerous expeditions particularly in Asia. He ranks as the most influential fish systematist in Europe and is consulted for his expertise on aquatic life in environmental assessments by international funding bodies, including the World Bank.
Maurice is founder and the editor of the quarterly scientific periodical Ichthyological Explorations of Freshwaters and president of the European Ichthyological Society. He has produced over 220 scientific publications, including eight books some of which cover entire national freshwater fish faunas. His field research resulted in the discovery and/or description of about 440 fish species new to science including the world's smallest vertebrate, Paedocypris progentica.
Synopses derived from The Petrus Artedi Tricentennial Symposium on Systematic Ichthyology where Maurice was honoured as Artedi Lecturer 2005. He is presently on a field trip with Heok Hui!Read more ...