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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Author/Editor: N. Sivasothi
Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore.


Made with Samizdat,
based on PHPosxom,
based on Blosxom.

05 Jul 2007 - Raffles Museum News has shifted to http://news.rafflesmuseum.net

Tue 17 Apr 2007

Photos from Singapore Heritage Society's tour of the Raffles Museum

Category : education

Last Saturday (14 Apr 2007) we played host to members of the Singapore Heritage Society. This informed and engaged group were treated to a special tour of the Public Gallery, Wet and Dry Collections that took about three hours until we finally decided we needed lunch!

On hand to take photos were bloggers and "Friends of Yesterday," Kenneth Pinto and Kevin Lim. As a result, there are now two lovely collections up on the web.

They avoided using the camera flash in order to protect pigments on specimens or displays, the same reason why the ambient lighting is so low in a museum's gallery or collections. In order to achieve reasonable brightness, their camera's EXIF data reveal settings of between ISO320 - 1600.

Kevin is back from Buffalo, New York for a semester of teaching and his camera's date/time settings are still set to EST so you have to add 12 hours for SGT.

Both are released with large-sized photos under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 license - this allows you to freely use and modify the photos for non-commercial use - you don't have to ask for permission, just cite the source and release your work under a similar license. .



Photos by Kenneth Pinto and Kevin Lim.

Posted at 2:24AM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | ,

Thu 12 Apr 2007

Singapore Heritage Society Tour this Saturday

Category : education

This Saturday, members of the Singapore Heritage Society will visit the Raffles Museum for a special Saturday morning tour of the Public Gallery and collections. The society was established in 1986 and members have been active in publications, seminars, research, feedback to government and public debate on issues related to Singpore's history, built-up heritage and identity.

You can see they call it the "Raffles Collection" - this is a group familiar with the history of the museum and it will be fun to show them some of the old specimens, events since NUS took over and recent developments.

See the society's webpage at singaporeheritage.com.

This is the second of the special Saturday morning tours organised by the Raffles Museum for special groups. The first was for the biodiversity community, was held in conjunction with the NUS Open House.

Posted at 6:37AM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | ,

Tue 10 Apr 2007

Coming your way: Birds of the Malay Peninsula (1927-1939)

Category : pub

Museum staff Wang Luan Keng passed me a flashdrive this week - in it were the digitised contents of the first four volumes of the "Birds of Malay Peninsula."

This is the culmination of a project funded by Lady Yuen-Peng McNeice. The four tomes published between 1927-1939 were loaned out from the Science Library of the National Universty of Singapore.

The pdf files will hosted on frills-free webpage in the manner of the bibliography page of the Raffles Bulletin of Zoology.

There are about 275 files, and we will post updates here as soon as they are up.

Posted at 8:19AM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | ,

Thu 29 Mar 2007

Thu 29 Mar 2007: 11am - Norma Rashid on Malaysian Dragonflies

Category : bejc

"Dragonflies (Order: Odonata) of Peninsular Malaysia"

Prof. Dr. Y. Norma-Rashid
Faculty of Science,
Institute of Biological Sciences,
University of Malaya,
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Thu 29 Mar 2007: 11.00am
DBS Seminar Room 3

Blk S2, Level 2,
Department of Biological Sciences
National University of Singapore
Science Drive 4
Please park at Carpark 10; See map.

Abstract - Peninsular Malaysia is endowed with at least 230 species of odonates, among them the spectacular Tetracanthagyna, the largest of the species in this region. This faunal group is fast gaining popularity among the professional group or hobbyist due do its colorful body patterns and bizarre behavioral repertoires. This talk looks into the current status records, distribution pertaining to Malaysia and some behavioral ecology aspects of the dragonflies.

About the speaker - Norma-Rashid would describe the central theme of her research interest as behavioural ecology in various ecosystems (mangrove, freshwater and forest) in various animals (ants, dragonflies, spiders, mudskippers, squirrels, primates including humans). Currently, she has developed a passion for researching on dragonflies involving aspects of  biomonitoring, biocoenosis, ecomorphometrics, systematics, behaviour and ecology. Her involvement in dragonflies resulted in establishing working linkages with the London and Leiden Natural History Museums as well the National Institute of Environmental Studies (NIES), Japan. She contributed regularly to the International Odonatological Society, SIO, Netherlands and a member of the Asian Dragonfly Community group.

Posted at 1:15AM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | ,

Thu 29 Mar 2007

Thu 05 Apr 2007: 2pm @ Sentosa - Riddick on the African Coelacanth

Category : talks

Underwater World Singapore and the African Coelacanth Ecosystem Programme (ACEP) cordially invites you to a lecture on:

"Coelacanth Evolutionary and Ecological Enigmas"

By Dr. Tony Ribbink,
Director, African Coelacanth Ecosystem Programme (ACEP),
a Founding Trustee of the Sustainable Seas Trust (SST),
and Programs Manager, South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity.

Thu 05 Apr 2007: 2:00 - 3:00 pm
Venue: Executive Seminar Room, Building 'A', 2nd Floor
The Tourism Academy at Sentosa, 12 Artillery Avenue, Sentosa
Click for Map

Please RSVP to Ayu at 6279-9221

About the talk - With a history unique in science and modern culture, the Coelacanth ("see-la-kanth"), was around millions of years before the Dinosaurs, and it was thought to have gone extinct with them until a freshly caught one was discovered in South Africa in 1938. It took 14 years for the second to be caught, cementing the place of this species in the annals of history and the public's imagination. Later discoveries have continued to excite new generations of "coelacanth-o-philes". Three people have died in their search for the Coelacanth, possibly many more.

For more details see the ACEP website at acep.co.za or visit dinofish.com.


Click for pdf flyer of the talk

Posted at 1:15AM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | ,

Tue 27 Mar 2007

Toddycat Hai-Ren discovers the joys and exhaustion of guiding!

Category : education

Hai-Ren, one of the new Raffles Museum Toddycats was a volunteer guide for the Public Gallery during the NUS Open House on 10 Mar 2007.

He blogged about his experience and remarks that there was one aspect of the guiding experience which he didn't expect!

"I had no idea giving a guided tour for the better part of an hour could be so draining physically and mentally. And I did it thrice today. Once with the Mahidol University group, then a trio of A-level students visiting NUS Open House (which I guided for about half the gallery), and then after a short nap, I went on to conduct a guided tour for a family of 6, with 2 young kids in tow."

Heh-heh!

We did suggest the Toddycats choose one of three shifts, but Hai-Ren had bravely opted for a full day's duty and went through a baptism of fire. Read his complete post, "What a Day" to find out what else he experienced during his first day of guiding (not his last!) He talks about the need to snooze between sessions to recover... Yup, guiding can be exhausting but is rewarding to those with a passion to communicate topics in science, biodiversity, conservation and heritage to visitors.

Guides or docents are certainly invaluable to the visitor's experience in any museum. A rare blogger's post from last year's International Museum Day is especially treasured: "when ... a docent started speaking it cheered up considerably." This year, the Museum Roundtable had placed some feedback forms and from the brief look I had, there were lots of 5/5 marked against visitor experience. Although the Public Gallery is very small and was setup in house by biologists on a bare-bones budget, the specimens and their inherent stories means the guides find they can spin a yarn or two :-)

Since its important our guides experience the sort of things they talk about, we conduct special field trips to help some of them build up their experience or offer them opportunities with researchers. After a few night walks, mud baths and river swims, coupled with some theory, they'll never find themselves at a loss for words.

The next sessions begin after April of course, when the undergrads have cleared their exams and I've finished marking scripts!

Posted at 11:26AM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | ,

Tue 27 Mar 2007

Revised parking charges in NUS, wef 02 Apr 2007

Category : bejc

NUS OED has informed the campus of new parking charges which will take effect from Monday, 2nd April 2007. This is their first revision since 2001 - see their FAQ.

These charges apply to Car Park 10, where we ask visitors to park when visiting the museum from seminars or meetings. One of the free carparks in NUS, Car Park 10A (CRISP, Kent Ridge Road) is within walking distance; its up the long flight os steps behind NUH. But if you're here for the entire day and no expense account, it might be worth it!

Pay Parking Operating Hours: Vehicles will be charged within the operating hours only, although entrance and exit barriers will operate round the clock.
  • Mon - Fri: 8.30am to 7.30pm
  • Sat: 8.30am to 5pm

Free parking available after working hours: This also applies to Car Parks 6-9 (Science Drive 2 and 3) and Car Park, 6A (Science Dr 4) in Faculty of Science.

  • Sun & Public Holidays
  • Mon-Fri: after 7.30pm
  • Sat: after 5pm
Rates: $0.02 per minute during operating hours, with a
  • maximum charge of $1.20 for vehicles entering between 6.00pm - 7.30pm on weekdays; or
  • maximum charge of $2.40 for vehicles entering during operating hours on Saturdays.

Grace Period

  • 15 minutes for all vehicles.
  • 30 minutes for taxis and goods vehices.

Posted at 8:11AM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | ,

Tue 20 Mar 2007

S. A. Tan's blog post series on the Raffles Museum's Public Gallery

Category : education

S. A. Tan visited the Raffles Museum's Public Gallery when we opened up all Saturday during the NUS Open House. Between 10 Mar and 19 Mar, she made a series of 11 blog posts of annotated photos (hosted on Flickr) that she took in the gallery.

Last night she announced that she had finally finished, so here are the links to her posts; you can start at the beginning since each page has a previous and next link. And do add comments she might useful!

Trip to the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research: A series of annotated photos by S. A. Tan. SATan's Kingdom, 10-19 Mar 2007.

  1. Near the Entrance - link
  2. Smuggler's Loot and Strange Edible Stuff - link
  3. Gallery of taxidermised specimens pt I - link
  4. Gallery of taxidermised specimens pt II - link
  5. Civet cats, a cobra and a dangerous sounding Stink Badger - link
  6. Creatures of the deep (and not so deep) - link
  7. Assorted Small Animals - link
  8. Reptiles - link
  9. Fish and Crabs - link
  10. Insects - link
  11. Weird stuff - link

Posted at 3:02AM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | ,

Sat 17 Mar 2007

Students from Millenia Institute visit

Category : education

Fri 16 Mar 2007 - A delightful group of students from Millenia Institute visited the Public Gallery today. I had them explore the exhibits for ten minutes before I started the guided tour. Since they were bright and alert, I tossed quite a lot of questions at them and they tossed answers right back at me and so we had fun! Pity we had so little time though.

The good thing is that when I finished with the second group, there was still enough time to drop in on Uma Ramakrishnan's seminar over at LT20.

Posted at 2:55PM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | ,

Fri 16 Mar 2007

The clouded leopard of Borneo and Sumatra is Neofelis diardi, new species

Category : southeastasia

The media are reporting on the Current Biology paper on Neofelis diardi that was published last December. The Environment News Service report seems to be the most comprehensive and includes a few photos from the original paper.


Photo of live clouded leopards in Kitchener et al. (2006) from Sabah
by Siew Te Wong (left), and Thailand, by Lon Grassman (right).

"Clouded Leopard of Borneo Identified as a New Cat Species."
Environment News Service, 15 Mar 2007.

GLAND, Switzerland, March 15, 2007 (ENS) - The clouded leopards found on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra belong to an entirely new species of cat that diverged from the mainland population of clouded leopards some 1.4 million years ago, new genetic research shows.

Based on their general physical appearance, all clouded leopards once were considered to belong to a single species. But recent genetic analysis has shown that the ones found on Borneo are so different that they are now classed as a separate species.

"Genetic research results clearly indicate that the clouded leopards of Borneo should be considered a separate species," said Dr. Stephen O'Brien, head of the Laboratory of Genomic Diversity at the U.S. National Cancer Institute. "DNA tests highlighted around 40 differences between the two species."

This is comparable to differences between other Panthera species. Lions and leopards, for instance, have 56 nucleotide differences.

Researchers at the Laboratory of Genomic Diversity say the differences between the Borneo and mainland clouded leopard are comparable to the differences between species such as lion and tiger or tiger and leopard, jaguar and snow leopard.

"We estimate that Bornean clouded leopards diverged from mainland populations during the Pleistocene, when recurring episodes of global cooling and warming created opportunities for population isolation," write O'Brien and his colleagues in the December 5, 2006 issue of "Current Biology."

"The Sunda Shelf, between the Indonesian archipelago and Vietnam, was repeatedly exposed and then covered by changing sea levels. However, even when the archipelago was connected to the mainland, ancient river systems may have continued to isolate modern Borneo," they wrote, explaining the factors that allowed the Borneo clouded leopards to develop into a species separate from clouded leopards on the mainland.

The combined results of DNA analysis point to a one to three million year difference in separation, while the accepted distance between species is one to two million years.

The results of the genetic study are supported by separate research on geographical variation in the clouded leopard, based mainly on fur patterns and coloration of skins held in museums and collections.

"The moment we started comparing the skins of the mainland clouded leopard and the leopard found on Borneo, it was clear we were comparing two different species," said Dr. Andrew Kitchener, from the Department of Natural Sciences, National Museums Scotland. "It's incredible that no one has ever noticed these differences."

The Borneo clouded leopard has small cloud markings, many distinct spots within the cloud markings, greyer fur, and a double dorsal stripe. Overall, it is darker than the mainland species.

Clouded leopards from the mainland have large clouds on their skin with fewer, often faint, spots within the cloud markings, and they are lighter in color, with a tendency toward tawny-colored fur and a partial double dorsal stripe.

"For over a hundred years we have been looking at this animal and never realized it was unique," said Stuart Chapman, WWF International Coordinator of the Heart of Borneo programme. "The fact that Borneo's top predator is now considered a separate species further emphasises the importance of conserving the Heart of Borneo."

A total number of 5,000 to 11,000 Bornean clouded leopards are estimated to live on the world's third largest island.

The total number in Sumatra is estimated in the range of 3,000 to 7,000 individuals. Further studies are needed to obtain better population data.

Secretive, mid-sized carnivores, clouded leopards are the biggest predators on Borneo, sometimes as large as small panthers. They are noted for having the longest canine teeth relative to body size of any cat.

Destruction of their habitat is the main threat they face.

The last great forest home of the Bornean clouded leopard is a 220,000 square kilometer wild, mountainous region – about five times the size of Switzerland – covered with equatorial rainforest in the center of the island known as the Heart of Borneo.

Last month in Bali, Indonesia, the ministers of the three Bornean governments – Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia and Malaysia – signed an historic Declaration to conserve and sustainably manage the Heart of Borneo. This has put the area on the global stage of conservation priorities.

Clouded leopards occur in most forested habitats of Borneo, from the coast to interior mountain ranges. Most animals prefer Borneo's dense lowland and hill rainforests. They usually avoid open areas with few trees and are very sensitive to human disturbances.

Bornean clouded leopards feed on monkeys, mouse deer, barking deer, young bearded pigs and sambar deer, which are stalked on the ground or jumped upon from tree branches. Occasionally birds and reptiles such as monitor lizards are eaten as well.

The clouded leopard was first scientifically described in 1821 by the British naturalist Edward Griffith. The scientific name of the clouded leopard from the mainland is Neofelis nebulosa, while the Bornean clouded leopard is now called Neofelis diardi.

The identification of the new species comes just weeks after a WWF report showed that scientists had identified at least 52 new species of animals and plants over the past year on Borneo.

The global conservation organization says these repeated findings show how crucial it is to conserve the habitat and species of Borneo.

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2006. All Rights Reserved.

Se also Science Daily.

Relevant papers:

Posted at 3:24AM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | ,

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