Archive for the ‘biodiversity’ Category

Heading home aboard HMS Beagle 180 years ago

August 17, 2016
darwin first day cover Falklands 1982

Charles Darwin first day cover Falklands 1982

180 years ago a 26 year old young Englishman prepares for the final part of his journey home on one of the most impressive round the world “gap years” in history.

darwin cocos

August 17 1836 aboard HMS Beagle, a young Charles Darwin prepares to  leave South America for the last time. Along with the Captain Fitzroy and crew of HMS Beagle, they were  heading home for the first time after 5 years away.

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He arrived in Falmouth harbour in Cornwall on HMS Beagle on October 2 1836.

800px-Charles_Darwin_Voyage_of_The_Beagle_plaque_Falmouth_Cornwall

Plaque marking spot of Darwin’s landfall from HMS Beagle voyage, Oct 2 1836 in Falmouth and his departure home by coach. Erected during the Darwin Bicentenary 2009.

Unlike Fitzroy and the Royal Navy crew of HMS Beagle, the often seasick Darwin would never go to sea or leave Britain again.

Read more of our past blogposts by Sandie Robb at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo and Mark Norris at Newquay Zoo for more about Darwin’s life and work, his life commemorated in postage stamps, the 200th Birthday celebrations in 2009, Alfred Russel Wallace, using stamps in schools or zoos as a teaching resource and celebrating many things Victorian!

Blog posted by Mark Norris, Newquay Zoo – Darwin Stamp Zoo blog, 17 August 2016

Only a few days from home, 175 years ago: Darwin’s landfall, Falmouth, October 2nd 1836

September 29, 2011

On this day 175 years ago, Charles Darwin was close to ending his world-changing 5 year journey round the world  Only a few days away from landfall and harbour in Falmouth on October 2nd 1836 and  a few days coach journey home away from his family in Shrewsbury.

Plaque marking spot of Darwin's landfall from HMS Beagle voyage, Oct 2 1836 in Falmouth and his departure home by coach.

A plaque now marks the place where Darwin made landfall that evening in Falmouth, arranged by Falmouth Town Council and Falmouth Art Gallery, during the Darwin 200 celebrations .

We still have  a few copies available to schools free of our Darwin stamp book – contact Sandie Robb at Edinburgh Zoo or Mark Norris at Newquay Zoo.  

A new Darwin stamp book for 2011

Many of the new 175th anniversary stamps issued to celebrate Darwin’s journey can be found in Barry Floyd’s new book Chrles Darwin His Life Through Commemorative Stamps (2011) , available through Traveller’s Tree Thematic Services, 30 Watch Bell Street, Rye, E. Sussex, TN31 7HB, UK Priced £15 + £2 P&P (UK). £5 P&P overseas Cheques in sterling to B N Floyd.

Look out in 2012 for events and publications celebrating Edward Lear’s bicentenary.  See the Blog of Bosh and other websites including www.nonsenselit.org

See our previous blog entry on Lear

https://darwin200stampzoo.wordpress.com/2009/12/03/the-victorians-are-not-dead-and-gone-celebrating-the-big-and-bearded-victorian-icons-from-darwin-to-lear-a-future-festival-of-nonsense/

Famous footsteps, incredible journeys: Happy New Darwin Anniversary Year 2011 – 175 years on, and a bit more of our Victorian Time Safari …

January 2, 2011

It’s 175 years this year since Charles Darwin returned to Britain at the end of his five-year voyage, just as the Victorian period was beginning. He had spent his last Christmas 1835 away from home and was heading back in HMS Beagle for the final part of his epic voyage of discovery. He still had much of Australia, New Zealand, Keeling Islands, Mauritius, Cape Town in South Africa, St. Helena, Ascension Island and Brazil (again) to visit before reaching Britain. Many of these countries, especially the islands, mark the anniversary of his famous visit with postage stamps.

By October 2nd, 1836 he would be back on land in Falmouth and heading home by mail coach

Plaque marking spot of Darwin's landfall from HMS Beagle voyage, Oct 2 1836 in Falmouth and his departure home by coach.

A plaque set up by Falmouth Town Council and Falmouth Art Gallery marks the point where he made landfall in Falmouth and waited for the mail coach home. Within a year, a new Queen would be on the throne and a new era of scientific, agricultural and technological revolution begun. Lots of developments had happened in technology and society whilst he had been away, not least the beginnings of railway mania, so that the very coach he travelled on was soon to become obsolete as public transport within his lifetime.

The penny post and Penny Black stamp were only a few years aways in 1840. By the time he died in 1882, telegraph communication was widespread and telephones in their infancy. The first petrol engine vehicles were in development. Cinema experiments were beginning. Iron and steam had replaced wood and sail in modern ships. Darwin lived through an amazing century, which set the pace for the developments since.

There’s a 2009 news story and photos about the Darwin’s landfall plaque in Falmouth  http://www.thisiscornwall.co.uk/news/falmouth/Plaque-marks-Darwin-landfall/article-1636415-detail/article.html

Sadly since this was put up, Brian Stewart the curator of Falmouth Art Gallery has sadly died in December 2010, much missed by  the Newquay Zoo staff with whom he worked extensively on Darwin 200 activities. Many tributes can be read to his work in the Falmouth Packet newspaper. Newquay Zoo staff were already planning a follow-up to Darwin 200 based around nonsense poet and animal painter Edward Lear’s bicentenary in May 2012.    

Darwin is not the only eminent Victorian to have his landing-place marked in Cornwall. We’ve included it as part of our Victorian Time Safari, looking at the legacy of Darwin’s Victorian times around us. What can you see in your village, town or city from Victorian times?

We spotted this unusual footprint when arriving by boat ferry at St. Michael’s Mount in Cornwall, that magical castle in the sea that Darwin would have passed on his route into Falmouth just up the coast.

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert 's royal visit marked by bronze plaque near her 'footstep' at St. Michaels' Mount, Cornwall (Photo: Mark Norris, Newquay Zoo)

Nearby, Truro station has all the ornate ironwork of a Victorian station still, including its VR Victorian post box. Nearby, Truro station has all the ornate ironwork of a Victorian station still, including its VR Victorian post box. On a recent Dublin trip, we saw a Victorian explorer commemorated not in stamps but in a lifesize bronze statue. What Victorain memorials or  inventions can you find in your area?

Ornate Victorian ironwork, Truro rail station, Cornwall, 2010Ornate decorative Victorian ironwork, Truro rail station, Cornwall, 2010Victorian statue of explorer / surgeon TH Parke from Stanley's expeditions in Africa, outside Dublin Natural History Museum

Wallace – the alternative Darwin – gets a postage stamp or two at last!!

July 25, 2010

George Beccaloni left a very excited message on the Alfred Russel Wallace website  about the 2009 issue by Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe (in Africa) of Wallace stamps – at last!

You might have read earlier Sandie’s jubilant blog entry about the 350th anniversary of the Royal Society postage stamps from the Royal Mail featuring Wallace  http://http://royalsociety.org/Royal-Society-350th-anniversary-stamps/ 

Interesting to compare the two different designs!

The centenary of Wallace’s death in 1913 is due soon in 2013 and the Wallace Fund website blog has more details about how this is being marked around the world. There is also a short biography of this amazing man and many links.

These very Darwin style portrait and dinosaur stamps compare well with some of the Darwin 200 and other anniversary issues shown in our Charles Darwin: A Life In Stamps book, published in 2009. Copies are still available to schools (free) and collectors (small charge, see earlier blog).  The stamps should,  as George notes,   appeal to dinosaur stamp collectors as much as Darwin realted stamp collectors.  

 http://wallacefund.info/first-ever-postage-stamps-featuring-alfred-russel-wallace-are-published

His book The Malay Archipeligo has never been out of print since its publication, much like Darwin’s Voyage of The Beagle, another classic of  Victorian travel writing.

Wallace’s travels took him across Indonesia including to Papua New Guinea where our Black Tree Monitors are from and Sulawesi, an Indonesian island,  home to Sulawesi Macaque monkeys that are now critically endangered – you can see our group at Newquay Zoo through our webcam http://www.newquayzoo.org.uk/conservation/sulawesi-crested-black-macaques.htm, part of our support for Selamatkan Yaki (Protect The Macaque! in Bahasan Indonesian).

We’ll keep you posted on celebartions for Wallace 2013, Darwin 2011 and Edward Lear 2012 on the blog – watch this space.

Artistic Scrapbooking Stamp Pages

July 14, 2010

I made a scrapbook all about Madagascar and used photos, stamps, and other materials to make up the pages.

Look how I have used the tails of the ring tailed lemur in the following example:

Try your own designs.

About Madagascar and how it came to have unique animals not found anywhere else –

The reason is because of evolution by natural selection. When Madagascar became separated from Africa, the island conditions were very different from the mainland. The animals and plants evolved according to their new circumstances and became new species over millions of years. And because Madagascar is an island the new species are not found anywhere else.

Sandie Robb, RZSS

Artistic Pages

July 14, 2010

Well if you have been collecting stamps, what do you do with them and how do you display them?

There are plenty of traditional stamp albums and stamp pages. Look on any good stamp collecting site to learn about what is available and how to use stamp hinges or stamp mounts to protect your mint stamps – stamps that have not been postmarked. Try www.planetstamp.co.uk

But I like to display my stamps in a more artistic way. I also like scrapbooking – there are lots of sites about crafts and scrapbooking too. I sometimes mix my stamps with other related material such as photos, magazine/newspaper cut-outs, actual bits and pieces etc.

Here are examples of some evolution related pages:

Minerals and Fossils has actual pieces of pyrite, amethyst, agate, corals and sharks teeth on the page!

In ‘Posting with Dinosaurs’ I used an old stamp magazine and cut out part of the article then added the real stamps.

Sandie Robb, RZSS

Centenary of Florence Nightingale’s Death 13 August 2010: update of ‘Florence Fatigue’ and another Great Victorian on postage stamps: Florence Nightingale, Mary Seacole and women scientists on stamps.

May 16, 2010

A 1960s UK stamp featuring Florence Nightingale from my childhood album (in old L-S-D pennies) with a youthful Queen Elizabeth head, much like the Young Victoria!

This Friday 13th sees the 100th anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s death on 13 August 1910. Commemorated in many ways  through a Royal Mint £2 coin, a church service on Radio 4  Sunday morning 8th August  2010 (available on I-player) and much press coverage about anniversary events http://www.personneltoday.com/articles/2010/07/09/55064/florence-nightingale-centenary-nursing-by-numbers.html 

along with her refurbished museum http://www.florence-nightingale.co.uk/cms/

Visitors to the Greenbank Hotel in Falmouth, where part of Wind in The Willows was written by Kenneth Grahame, can see Florence Nightingale’s signature in the visitor’s book of what was a very popular Victorian hotel for travellers overseas via  the busy Falmouth harbour. http://www.greenbank-hotel.co.uk/falmouth-hotel/14/falmouth+hotel+history.html 

Readers of our Darwin 200 stamp blog will note that much of our Darwin celebrations locally in Cornwall in 2009 focussed on Falmouth, where Darwin made landfall on Oct 2 1836 at the end of the Beagle voyage. A plaque, rather then register entry,  marks the spot as he rapidly left for home by mail coach after five homesick and seasick adventurous years. Darwin and Nightingale in their dogged pursuit of evidence or statistics to support their arguments would have had no doubt a very interesting discussion, had they ever met!  

 Her obituary can be found at http://century.guardian.co.uk/1910-1919/Story/0,,126410,00.html  and an interesting research blog at http://www.florence-nightingale-avenging-angel.co.uk/

Previous Entry May 2010:

Every 12 May around the world is International Nursing Day, baacuse it is also Florence Nightingale’s birthday. Happy 190th birthday Florence.  

This year has extra significance, amazingly it is only 100 years since Florence Nightingale  died on 13 August 2010.

Florence was one of that generation of long-lived famous Victorians who lived well into the Twentieth Century including Alfred Russel Wallace the explorer and evolutionary theorist who died in 1913. Wallace has been mentioned on this blog site with news that you may soon see him on a UK stamp.

One of our recent commenters on the blog asked why we didn’t mention Rosalind Franklin ‘the dark lady of DNA’ when we introduced DNA, Crick and Watson. A trawl through internet stamp sites and Stanley Gibbons catalogues will produce some images of women scientists and engineers who aren’t Marie Curie. (Personally I look forward to a portrait stamp of Hedy Lamarr, featuring a background print of her World War Two patent for torpedo switching gear).

 Not surprisingly the Royal Mail, mints  and postage stamp designers ariound the world have often honoured nurses, Florence Nightingale and occasionally her contemporary Mary Seacole  often over the last 100 years.

http://www.rcn.org.uk/development/rcn_archives/exhibitions/international_postage_stamps/florence_nightingale

http://www.rcn.org.uk/development/rcn_archives/exhibitions/international_postage_stamps/mary_jane_seacole  

2009/10 also marks the 150th anniversary of  her important book Notes on Nursing, based on her experiences in The Crimean War. www.royalmint.com/store/BritishBase/UKFNBU.aspx.  Just as revolutionary in its time and field as Darwin’s Origin of Species, the International College of Nursing ICN  modern edition of Notes on Nursing is still available 150 years later!

As a scientist, Florence is also famous for using Pie charts to present information in persuasive ways, useful for introducing maths to the history curriculum and the ever present role model search for women scientists.

Some primary teachers I know do groan at the name Florence Nightingale as this is currently the examplar famous Victorian person in the current National Curriculum (England and Wales) and some hope the new one due in  2011 is Florence free. http://http://www.standards.dfes.gov.uk/schemes2/history/his4/?view=get 

Talking to collegues and stall holders at a history teaching conference including the TTS people who have a Florence section http://www.tts-group.co.uk/, some teachers  after many years of teaching Florence were showing signs of ‘Florence Fatigue’. This will hopefully never become a recognisable medical condition.

Examples of creating famous person / Florence Nightingale displays (timelines!) using postage stamps can be seen at: http://fnif.org/,  showing pictures of  the story of Florence Nightingale as an exhibition of stamps at the ICN Congress in Durban by Marilyn Gendek, an Australian nurse and philatelist. 

Country Joe’s site covers statues and other memorails, good for looking at evidence of Victorians in our towns and local areas such as suggested on our Victorian Time safari blog entries last year: http://www.countryjoe.com/nightingale/honors.htm   

http://www.uoguelph.ca/~cwfn/stamps/index.html  

http://www.sma.org.sg/smj/4703/4703ms1.pdf   

is a comprehensive six page long pdf article on Florence Nightingale in stamps.

The Crimean War was marked 150 years on by a recent Royal Mail issue four or five years ago – see the Royal Mail website.   Local regimental museums and the National Army Museum at Chelsea are also good sources for information on this conflict.

There is lots of biographical information on Florence ranging from the BBC, Victorian Web and Wikipedia to the Florence Nightingale Museum

http://www.florence-nightingale.co.uk/

http://www.uoguelph.ca/~cwfn/    her collected works and writings

http://www.victorianweb.org/history/crimea/florrie.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Florence_Nightingale

 http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/nightingale_florence.shtml

Brilliant Britain – a new competition

April 27, 2010

Stamp Active Network are pleased to announce a new competition based on the fact that British stamps tell us a lot about Great Britain e.g. its history, its culture, its geography, its people, its plants and its animals.

Young people in Primary School, up to the age of 12 (on 1st September 2010), are invited to create a one page mini-exhibit about some aspect of Britain. Only stamps, covers and other philatelic items from Great Britain can be used. The page must have a title, and either captions or a short write up that tells the story. The entrant’s full name and address (home or school) should be on the back of the page, also their age on 1st September 2010. Entries should be on good quality paper (A4) or a similar size album page, and placed in a clear protector. The entries can be either hand-written or prepared using a computer.

There will be three age groups – Up to 7; 8-9; 10-12 – with prizes being awarded (for First, Second, Third and Runners up) in each age group.

The entries will be judged on knowledge of the subject, originality and presentation.

Only one entry per person is allowed. UK entrants only.

Winners will be announced in the philatelic press and on the Stamp Active Website www.planetstamp.co.uk. The best entries will be on display at Autumn Stampex 15th – 18th September at the Business and Design Centre, London.

The deadline for receiving entries will be 1st September 2010.

Send entries to: BRILLIANT BRITAIN Competition, Stamp Active Network, 3 Longfellow Road, Banbury, OX16 9LB

Charles Darwin, Evolution, Conservation, Biodiversity would all make wonderful themes for an entry and there are many British stamps which have been issued over the years which would be suitable for such. It’s just one page – why not have a go?

New UK mammal biodiversity stamps launched!

April 15, 2010

Hopefully you have all seen the news release about Royal Mail’s new UK Biodiversity stamps (and you’ll see them on your post). Surely Charles Darwin as a backyard biologist would approve, especailly in 2010 Year of Biodiversity,  of the beautiful new photographic stamps about rare British mammals. You can see them on the Royal mail website or at the execllent zoo blog http://zoonewsdigest.blogspot.com:80/2010/04/mammal-stamps-in-uk.html 

Stephen Woollard and Sandie Robb at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo commented: “We are particularly pleased to see the Scottish wildcat as one of the featured animals and the launch of this stamp took place at our RZSS Highland Wildlife Park, as we are one of the partners of the Cairngorm Wildcat Project.”

See these links: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/8617325.stm

 http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/8616599.stm

 http://www.royalmail.com/portal/stamps/content1?catId=118600813&mediaId=119300768

If only Darwin had known about … DNA and Gregor Mendel.

February 28, 2010

Royal Mail's Millennium stamp issue featured this striking DNA stamp.

If only Darwin had known about … DNA.

A useful website for teachers is a daily email from History.com 
THIS DAY IN HISTORY http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history 
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February 28: General Interest
1953 : Watson and Crick discover chemical structure of DNA

On this day in 1953, Cambridge University scientists James D. Watson and Frances H.C. Crick announce that they have determined the double-helix structure of DNA, the molecule containing human genes.

Though DNA–short for deoxyribonucleic acid–was discovered in 1869, its crucial role in determining genetic inheritance wasn’t demonstrated until 1943. In the early 1950s, Watson and Crick were only two of many scientists working on figuring out the structure of DNA. California chemist Linus Pauling suggested an incorrect model at the beginning of 1953, prompting Watson and Crick to try and beat Pauling at his own game.

 On the morning of February 28, they determined that the structure of DNA was a double-helix polymer, or a spiral of two DNA strands, each containing a long chain of monomer nucleotides, wound around each other. According to their findings, DNA replicated itself by separating into individual strands, each of which became the template for a new double helix.

In his best-selling book, The Double Helix (1968), Watson later claimed that Crick announced the discovery by walking into the nearby Eagle Pub and blurting out that “we had found the secret of life.” The truth wasn’t that far off, as Watson and Crick had solved a fundamental mystery of science–how it was possible for genetic instructions to be held inside organisms and passed from generation to generation.

Watson and Crick’s solution was formally announced on April 25, 1953, following its publication in that month’s issue of Nature magazine. The article revolutionized the study of biology and medicine. Among the developments that followed directly from it were pre-natal screening for disease genes; genetically engineered foods; the ability to identify human remains; the rational design of treatments for diseases such as AIDS; and the accurate testing of physical evidence in order to convict or exonerate criminals.

Crick and Watson later had a falling-out over Watson’s book, which Crick felt misrepresented their collaboration and betrayed their friendship. A larger controversy arose over the use Watson and Crick made of research done by another DNA researcher, Rosalind Franklin, whose colleague Maurice Wilkins showed her X-ray photographic work to Watson just before he and Crick made their famous discovery.

When Crick and Watson won the Nobel Prize in 1962, they shared it with Wilkins. Franklin, who died in 1958 of ovarian cancer and was thus ineligible for the award, never learned of the role her photos played in the historic scientific breakthrough.

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Gregor Mendel and his famous smooth and wrinkled pea plant experiments on inheritance are commemorated on this German stamp. If only Darwin and he had met ...

And if only Darwin had met or read properly the work of Gregor Mendel