29 November 2016

Drawing Tuesday - Natural History Museum

The Blue Zone at the Natural History Museum includes this gallery of mammals, especially whales -
It could certainly do with a good dusting! Just look at that grey layer on the head of the sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus). What makes the big head on this whale are the containers; the case holds spermaceti, which hardens to wax when cold, and below it is "a tissue-filled chamber that also contains high grade spermaceti oil.  The tissue and oil in this chamber are collectively called junk, but that name is unfortunate because of the high quality of oil that is rendered from the contents of the chamber" (via). For the whale, what does spermaceti do? - scientists still don't know; maybe it alters buoyancy. (A sperm whale eats, literally, a ton of food a day - 907kg of fish and squid.)

"Sperm whales were mainstays of whaling's 18th and 19th century heyday. A mythical albino sperm whale was immortalized in Herman Melville's Moby Dick, though Ahab's nemesis was apparently based on a real animal whalers called Mocha Dick. The animals were targeted for oil and ambergris, a substance that forms around squid beaks in a whale's stomach. Ambergris was (and remains) a very valuable substance once used in perfumes." (via)

But I digress; back to drawing. First, swimming with dolphins -
Then, skeleton of the right whale -
The North Atlantic right whales are very rare, only about 450 left in the whole world. Their big mouths are filled with plates of baleen, up to 8 feet long, which act as filters. The whale lifts its tongue, opens its mouth, fills it with water, closes its mouth, drops its tongue, and expels the water through the baleen, leaving the plankton and krill behind. Scientists don't know how the whale swallows. During breeding season they eat over a ton a day - 2600 pounds.

I didn't know that when drawing -
Didn't quite manage to get the entire whale on the page ... but Janet K showed how to overcome the page-size limitation with her grey whale (another endangered species) -
and Carol tackled the grey whale too -
Joyce, Sue and Mags drew a huge coral (thanks to Najlaa for the photo) -



Mags writes about hers here

 Finally, elsewhere in the museum, Najlaa found a Red Powder Puff by the Bauer Brothers -
Afterwards I wandered around the museum and had some "close encounters of the bird kind" -
and noticed that only one of the old-style display cases was left in the Birds gallery; is it, too, doomed? -

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