No visitors but teeming with life: what’s going on inside the Natural History Museum?

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The main exhibition room at the Natural History Museum in London is cathedral-like, with Hope the blue whale suspended mid-air like a demigod. Filled with specimens collected by explorers, this remarkable place teaches us about the evolution of life on our planet. There is a “great unlocking” happening in this building, home to one of the world’s largest natural history collections. Insects on pins and old minerals that have been sitting in mahogany display cases for hundreds of years are being re-examined, digitised and brought into the 21st century. In the bowels of the museum – empty due to Covid-19 – scientists are working to protect the planet for the future, as well as preserving its past. Recording all species ‘Darwin’ catches up on some reading in the offices of the Natural History Museum The two white cryogenic tanks in the museum’s basement can store genetic data from all 70,000 known species of animal, plant, fungi and protozoa found in the UK. If the Darwin Tree of Life project is a success, Britain will be the first country to record the genome of every one of its species. Badgers, bats and beetles are not being stuffed into the tubs […]

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