I took a break from my reading in the British Library last week to redeem the "Adopt a Specimen at the Grant Museum of Zoology" voucher I got as a birthday gift from John. The likes of us find this romantic.
The Grant Museum (wir berichteten) is a marvellous, formaldehyde-flavoured chamber of zoological wonders in UCL's Darwin Building (more on Darwin buildings probably soon at this blog), just off Gower Street. It's a bit difficult to get to, since you have to enter the building from the back (follow the signs to "Anatomy Yard", then turn left). But the intrepid tourist is rewarded with an unusual (to say the least) collection of deceased creatures (or bits thereof) preserved in pickling fluid or stuffed with loving care. And it's free!
Anyway, I had a fun time choosing my favourite specimen. Sadly, the loris had already been taken (as had the axolotl, which John adopted a while back) and the bats looked a tad worse for wear. I didn't really fancy the tapeworm and the ugly Surinam Toad is simply hors de question.
But then I found the specimen of my heart (which soon will have a label with my name attached to it). Here a living equivalent:
The Golden Mole is a small, insectivorous burrowing mammal native to Southern Africa, ranging in size from about 8 to 20 cm; they live almost exclusively underground. Golden Moles have powerful digging claws and dense fur. Unfortunately, their eyes are non-functional and their ears are but tiny little holes. To compensate for these serious delimitations in sensory equipment, the Intelligent Designer (joke!) gave the Golden Mole a rather practical pad for nostril protection and a generally heightened vibration sensitivity.
Fair exchange is no robbery. And the Intelligent Designer is one hell of a clever (and just) guy.
There also is a Golden Mole signature tune, based on The Strangler's "Golden Brown". I'm still working on the lyrics beyond the first line: "Golden Mole, texture like sun". I think the song might go on as follows: "Fried in lard and stuffed in a bun". But I'm not so sure ....