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Ancient whales had more bite than today’s gentle giants

The cutting edge of whale evolution

Mounted male Cheetah specimen (Acinonyx jubatus: Felidae, Carnivora, Mammalia, Chordata). Specimen was a captive inhabitant of Werribee Open Range Zoo called Haraku, who died in captivity on 13 November 2008.
Watch

Discover Documentary: Taxidermy

Museums Victoria owns some of the world's most iconic taxidermy specimens from the famous Phar Lap to the infamous Sad Otter. There are over 16 million items in our collection and over 6 thousand of these are taxidermy. But why do scientists still use physical specimens?

Fossil plant
External site

600 Million Years: Victoria Evolves

How did life on Earth come to be the way it is and what happened in our part of the world?

Front view of brown spider showing two rows of eyes.
Museums Victoria Collections

Wolf spiders

Some Wolf Spiders shelter in permanent burrows, others wander during the day.

Visitor in front of butterfly display at the entrance to Bugs Alive exhibition
Visit Melbourne Museum

Bugs Alive!

The amazing world of insects and spiders!

Strap-snouted Brown Snake, Pseudonaja aspidorhyncha.
Read

8 myths about snakes

Some common misconceptions, and what you can do to keep snakes out of your yard.

The tower which formed the centre of an octagonal glasshouse in The System Garden.
Read

Our first Director's vision for a University Botanical Garden

How Melbourne University's System Garden came to be.

Building with telescope dome, surrounded by trees.
Museums Victoria Collections

Melbourne Observatory, 1863-1944

Established in 1863 to serve as a scientific research institution for Melbourne.

whale preying on fish
Watch

Discover Documentary: Prehistoric marine mammals

What creatures swam in Australia's oceans millions of years ago? In this episode of Discover, palaeontologists Dr Erich Fitzgerald and Tim Ziegler explain how they find and prepare the fossils which are revealing the secrets of Victoria's prehistoric marine mammals.

Worker bees with pollen stored in beehive cells.
Watch

Discover Documentary: Bees

In this episode of Discover, Dr. Ken Walker takes us into Museums Victoria's Entomology Collection. As an expert in native bees, he explains how these tiny creatures have a major global impact.

H.L. White egg collection, tray of Magpie eggs.
Read

The colour of birds' eggs

The aesthetic qualities of a bird egg can tell you a lot about the species that laid it.

Newly-moulted Giant Spider Crab
Read

Melbourne's annual congregation of Giant Spider Crabs

Every year, thousands of Giant Spider Crabs congregate in Port Phillip Bay ahead of their annual winter moult.

A hubble space telescope image of spiral galaxy M83
Visit Scienceworks

Melbourne Planetarium

An awe-inspiring astronomical experience in an unique immersive environment.

Hog nosed rat
Watch

Discover Documentary: Rats

The Indonesian island of Sulawesi is home to a unique mix of Australian and Asian animals found nowhere else on Earth, including a number of rat species that are one of a kind. Find out how research being conducted by Dr Kevin Rowe and his colleagues into these rats is helping us to understand the evolution of life on our planet.

A woman and 2 children pointing at a large screen
External site

Dynamic Earth

Stories from the Dynamic Earth exhibition at Melbourne Museum. A stunning exhibition of thousands of minerals to tell the story of our ever-changing planet.

two rock fragments
Read

The Murchison meteorite

The story behind one of the most studied meteorites, which fell to earth near Victoria in 1969. 

Mounted owl specimen
External site

Wild: Amazing animals in a changing world

Found out more about the Wild: Amazing animals in a changing world exhibition at Melbourne Museum, which features more than 750 animals from around the world.

Finished reconstruction of extinct Australian megafauna, Palorchestes.
Read

Australia's megafauna

Australia’s megafauna were unique, and included giant marsupials, huge flightless birds and giant reptiles.

Watch

Discover Documentary: Deep Sea

Scientists are only just starting to uncover what lives in the deepest parts of the world's ocean. Find out about some of the weirdest and most wonderful with Dr Martin Gomon, Curator of Ichthyology and Melanie MacKenzie, Collection Manager of Marine Invertebrates.

Space with stars visible and a nebula – clouds of colourful gas
Visit Scienceworks

Discover the Night Sky

Enjoy a special evening with the stars at the Melbourne Planetarium with Museums Victoria’s resident astronomer Dr Tanya Hill. 

Black and white image of a man standing next to a telescope
External site

Great Melbourne Telescope

Great Melbourne Telescope project website. The goal is to restore the telescope to working order so that it may be used for educational and public viewing.

Pluto
Read

Planet or dwarf planet?

A group of astronomers are trying to reclassify Pluto as full 'planet'.

Visit Scienceworks

AstroLight Festival

An evening of talks, performances and activities celebrating astronomy and light.

Night sky
Visit Scienceworks

Skynotes

A monthly newsletter that describes where to find the brightest planets in the night sky.

Visit Scienceworks

Listening to the Universe

Answer the call of the Universe – discover the science, stories and poetry of the stars.

moon rock in an museum exhibition
Read

Moon rock on display

Museums make it possible to see specimens from faraway places that you won't get the chance to visit yourself.

pink diamond
Read

How do diamonds get their colours?

And what's so special about the pink ones?

Gold nugget specimen.
Museums Victoria Collections

The Bunyip Gold Nugget Gold

Blocky grey-purple amethyst crystals.
Museums Victoria Collections

Amethyst

From Reedy Creek track area, north of Eldorado, Victoria, Australia

Large oval, faceted, clear gem.
Museums Victoria Collections

The Crystal King Quartz

This cut crystal weighs 8510 carats (1.7 kg), measures 19 x 11 x 6 cm and has 196 facets.

Dinosaur skull cast
External site

Dinosaur Walk

Meet the skeletons from Melbourne Museum's Dinosaur Walk exhibition and learn amazing facts about these prehistoric animals. 

Crinoid fossils and models
Visit Melbourne Museum

600 Million Years

The origin and evolution of life in Victoria.

Dinosaur claw specimen with handwritten registration number.
Museums Victoria Collections

The Cape Paterson Claw Theropoda

This claw - the first dinosaur bone found in Victoria - is commonly known as "the Cape Paterson Claw".

Visiting children examining Inostrancevia skeleton in the Dinosaur Walk exhibition.
Visit Melbourne Museum

Dinosaur Walk

Walk among skeletons of prehistoric animals.

Four dinosaur eggs.
Museums Victoria Collections

Dinosaur eggs

Fossilised eggs of a Sauropod

Brown rock with textured impression on surface.
Museums Victoria Collections

Dinosaur skin

 Fossilised skin impression of a Hadrosaur

Pinned butterfly in box with paper label.
Museums Victoria Collections

Australia's oldest insect specimen

A Common Evening Brown collected in China in 1742.

A Children's Stick Insect hanging underneath a plant stem, at night.
Museums Victoria Collections

Children's Stick Insect

Find this stick insect in coastal and inland eucalyptus forests.

A Common Grass-blue butterfly on a leaf, showing underside of wings.
Museums Victoria Collections

Common Grass-blue Butterfly

These small lilac-blue butterflies flutter slowly, stopping frequently to feed on the nectar of low-growing flowers.

Black wasp
Read

Predator vs predator

Wasps give huntsman spiders a taste of their own medicine.

Trees and mist
Visit Melbourne Museum

Forest Secrets

Walk through a stand of Victoria's mountain forests in the middle of the city.

Orange butterfly with brown patches on wing sitting on curled bark.
Museums Victoria Collections

Common Brown Butterfly

This butterfly has orange wings, dark markings and eyespots.

Cream buttefly with black stripes and orange spots on grass stem, wings closed.
Museums Victoria Collections

Imperial Hairstreak Butterfly

This butterfly has tails on its hindwings with orange spots just above the tails.

Image taken by a microscope of a bees head
Read

Buzz off!

How do you study a bee so small it can barely be seen? 

A male Maratus volans peacock spider. Image made available through generous donation of its original author.
Read

What good are spiders?

Apart from their intrinsic right to be here, spiders do humans a power of good as well.

Mottled brown scorpion, tail raised.
Museums Victoria Collections

Little Marbled Scorpion

 Is a relatively small species and found in the greater Melbourne region.

Venoms & antivenoms at Museum Victoria
Museums Victoria Collections

Venoms & antivenoms at Museum Victoria

Through necessity, Australia is a world leader in venom and antivenom research.

Black scorpion with tail curled over back.
Museums Victoria Collections

Wood Scorpion

Can live for more than three years and are known to occur in the greater Melbourne region. 

A Southern Brown Tree Frog sitting on a branch of a tree.
Read

Scientists reveal bushfires cause a decrease in the genetic diversity of Victoria's frog populations

Bright green frog on partially submerged rock.
Museums Victoria Collections

Leaf Green River Tree Frog

These frogs frequent fast-flowing rivers and are excellent swimmers and jumpers. 

Visitors viewing a showcase
Visit Melbourne Museum

Wild

Over 600 birds, reptiles, mammals and amphibians from around the world.

A Brown-striped Frog on mud and wet leaf litter.
Museums Victoria Collections

Striped Marsh Frog

Feeds on a variety of foods including smaller frogs.

Green and brown mottled toad huddled on brown ground.
Museums Victoria Collections

Sudell's Frog

A burrowing species that usually come to the surface only after summer rains to breed.

Specimen box storage for the liquid nitrogen cryofacility freezing tank, Ian Potter Bio-Bank.
Watch

Discover Documentary: Biobank

Discover the Ian Potter Australian Wildlife Biobank: a state-of-the-art liquid nitrogen storage facility containing tissue, venom, and even live cells. 

Snake specimen in jar of ethanol.
Museums Victoria Collections

The first taipan to be milked for venom

The head of a snake
Museums Victoria Collections

Lowland Copperhead

Has a light grey to red-brown body and pale white-yellow to pink-orange underneath.

Brown lizard without obvious legs on dry grass.
Museums Victoria Collections

Common Scaly-foot

A legless lizard

Dark snake with yellow belly on sandy ground.
Museums Victoria Collections

Tiger Snake

Tiger Snakes are variable in colour, ranging from light grey to blackish brown.

Brown skink on rock.
Museums Victoria Collections

Pale-flecked Garden Sunskink

A small skink with a grey-brown to bronze back and striped sides.

Side view of skink's head with dark stripe across eye.
Museums Victoria Collections

Eastern Blue-tongue

Blue-tongues have large heads, long bodies and short legs and toes.

Bird perched on a branch
Read

Listening for Nature

Researchers are using advanced digital tools to listen in on animal sounds and map who is where from croaks and calls.

The A. J. Campbell Collection
Museums Victoria Collections

The A. J. Campbell Collection

Documents the life work of a passionate Ornithologist.

Dry bird skin specimen with labels.
Museums Victoria Collections

Great Pampa-Finch

Collected by Charles Darwin in May 1833

Three Little Pied Cormorant specimens mounted on a board.
Museums Victoria Collections

The first donation to the Museum

 Mounted specimen of the Little Pied Cormorant

Koala specimen mounted on a tree trunk.
Museums Victoria Collections

Sam the Koala

A symbol of hope and resilience amidst the loss and trauma of Australia's worst bushfires on record.

man with taxidermied koala
Read

Outreach koala

Preparing a specimen for education programs.

Wombat poo
Read

The science of poo

Poo is truly fascinating stuff.

A Platypus swimming in mid-water.
Museums Victoria Collections

Platypus

An egg-laying mammal most often seen swimming and diving in freshwater at dusk.

Large male red kangaroo standing on hind legs beside small shrub.
Museums Victoria Collections

Red Kangaroo

The world's largest living marsupial.

Worm on a black background
Read

Creature of the deep

Its evocative appearance is not the only thing that makes this deep sea creature fascinating and important.

Underwater landscape
Download the app

Bunurong Marine National Park Field Guide app

A scientist holds a fossil ear bone of an early toothed mysticete behind a microscope
Read

New research finds baleen whales had extreme hearing prior to giant body size and filter-feeding

Cover of An Introduction to Marine Life
Get the book

An Introduction to Marine Life

A Museum Victoria field guide
Cover of Museum Victoria field guide Crabs, Hermit Crabs and Allies
Get the book

Crabs, Hermit Crabs and Allies

A Museum Victoria field guide
Front view of mounted display shark
Visit Melbourne Museum

Marine Life

Dramatic underwater footage, vivid photographs and rare specimens bring Victoria’s marine animals to life.

Erich Fitzgerald and Tim Zieglar with 3D model of Alfred's skull.
Read

Prehistoric whale fossil explains a major mystery of evolution – how whales became the largest creatures on Earth

Man showing a part of a squid.
Museums Victoria Collections

Giant Squid

Highlights from the squid dissection held at Melbourne Museum in June 2008.

Southern Blue-ringed Octopus
Read

Blue-ringed Octopus

Small but deadly, this animal runs rings around the competition.

sea slug
Read

Victoria's nudibranchs

The butterflies of the sea

Cover of Museum Victoria field guide Sponges
Get the book

Sponges

A Museum Victoria field guide
Cover of Nudibranchs and Related Molluscs Museum Victoria field guide
Get the book

Nudibranchs and Related Molluscs

A Museum Victoria field guide
sea anemone and shrimp
Read

Sea anemone feast

Ever bitten off more than you can chew?

Shark tooth and whale bone
Read

Whale vs shark

Evidence of shark bite 24 million years ago.

Side view of white and brown-red fish.
Museums Victoria Collections

Faceless fish

 Collected during the RV Investigator's Sampling the Abyss voyage.

Cover of marine field guide Barnacles
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Barnacles

A Museum Victoria field guide
Southern Bobtail Squid swimming over a reef
Museums Victoria Collections

Southern Bobtail Squid

An iridescent green squid that lives in the sand and mud of shallow coastal waters.

Cover of Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast
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Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast

Colour illsutration
Download the app

Field Guide app to Victorian Fauna

book cover
Read

Cephalopod Catalogue

Third and final volume by MV scientists now available

Bird perched on a red bollard
Download the app

Wildlife Field Guide app to Gippsland Lakes

Detail of a colour illustration of a two koalas
Download the app

National Field Guide apps

Cockatoos taking flight
Download the app

Field Guide to the Budj Bim Cultural Landscape

Cover of Prehistoric Marine Life in Australia's Inland Sea
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Prehistoric Marine Life in Australia's Inland Sea

Cover of Gemstones in Victoria
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Gemstones in Victoria

Cover of Butterflies: Identification and Life History Museum Victoria field guide
Get the book

Butterflies: Identification and Life History

A Museum Victoria field guide
Cover of Prehistoric Giants: The Megafauna of Australia
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Prehistoric Giants

The megafauna of Australia
Cover of Bugs Alive: A Guide to Keeping Australian Invertebrates
Get the book

Bugs Alive

A guide to keeping Australian invertebrates
Shrimps Prawns and Lobsters
Get the book

Shrimps, prawns and lobsters

A Museums Victoria field guide
Black and orange beetle on a flower
Read

What are these swarming beetles in my garden?

Each January, the Discovery Centre has receives many enquiries about swarms of beetles in suburban gardens in and around Melbourne

Tasmanian tiger mount
Read

Cryptozoology – imagination, science or folklore?

"I know what I saw"

Centipede
Read

Do centipedes really have 100 legs?

Counting the feet on these ancient invertebrates.

skull
Read

Small(er) is beautiful

Megafaunal giants…in miniature

pink cockatoo
Read

Indigenous Biodiversity

An Aboriginal perspective on Australia's threatened species.

Cockroach
Read

Bountiful Mallee

Close encounters with Mallee insects.

Robert Lewis John Ellery, astronomer & scientist (1827-1908)
Museums Victoria Collections

Robert Lewis John Ellery, astronomer & scientist (1827-1908)

English-born Ellery was Government Astronomer from 1863's advent of Melbourne Observatory until 1895.

Head and shoulders portrait of man
Museums Victoria Collections

Hermann Ralph Uhlherr, engineer (1934-present)

A passionate collector of tektites who has had an asteroid named after him.

Brass instrument in glazed wooden case.
Museums Victoria Collections

Melbourne Observatory collection

Over 400 objects and images relating to the operation of Melbourne Observatory from 1863 to 1944.

Five girls looking for marine life on a boat.
Museums Victoria Collections

Help us document biodiversity – record your own sightings

Kangaroos, male and female with joey in pouch standing on hindlegs.
Museums Victoria Collections

Eastern Grey Kangaroo

Perhaps the most popular of the Australian marsupials is the Eastern Grey Kangaroo.

Brown-yellow octopus with vivid blue rings in midwater against black background.
Museums Victoria Collections

Southern Blue-ringed Octopus

A Scolopendrid Centipede curled around on a smooth grey rock.
Museums Victoria Collections

Scolopendrid Centipede

Gold Nugget 'Welcome Stranger' (1869)
Museums Victoria Collections

Gold Nugget 'Welcome Stranger' (1869)

Two round blue plates of mineral on a white rock.
Museums Victoria Collections

Azurite

White rock with black tetrahedral crystals.
Museums Victoria Collections

Magnetite

Clear and purple crystals on grey rock.
Museums Victoria Collections

Fluorapatite

Pale fsh with orange lower jaw on seafloor.
Museums Victoria Collections

Common Gurnard Perch

The largest scorpionfish in Port Phillip Bay.

A fish, the Common Seadragon, above a seagrass meadow.
Museums Victoria Collections

Common Seadragon

 The Marine State Faunal Emblem for Victoria.

Possum in a tree
Museums Victoria Collections

Common Brushtail Possum

The scientific name of the Common Brush-tail Possum, Trichosurus vulpecula, means "furry tailed little fox".

A Western Grey Kangaroo standing beside a joey.
Museums Victoria Collections

Western Grey Kangaroo

Have dark brown-grey body fur with darker face and are pale grey underneath

Rufous Bettong on hindlegs surrouned by grass, staring at camera.
Museums Victoria Collections

Rufous Bettong

A solitary species that shelters during the day.

Adult Emu with four juveniles walking through short grass.
Museums Victoria Collections

Emu

Lace monitor on a tree trunk.
Museums Victoria Collections

Tree Goanna

Pelican on water.
Museums Victoria Collections

Australian Pelican

Are the only species of Pelican in Australia.

Blac, white and yellow spiny spider on web.
Museums Victoria Collections

Spiny Spider

Also known as the Christmas spider or jewel spider.

Orange and brown frog on orange-brown soil surface.
Museums Victoria Collections

Eastern Banjo Frog

Burrows in the soil and are sometimes found when people dig in their backyard.

Black spider with red markings with eggs.
Museums Victoria Collections

Redback Spider

Back view of Kokkaburra sitting on branch looking right.
Museums Victoria Collections

Laughing Kookaburra

One of the largest members of the kingfisher family.

A brown Stick Insect hanging upside-down on a thin branch, at night.
Museums Victoria Collections

Margined-winged Stick-insect

Two red and blue parrots sitting on branch.
Museums Victoria Collections

Crimson Rosella

A dark red and blue parrot with a long pointed tail.

Black Rock Scorpion
Museums Victoria Collections

Black Rock Scorpion

Lives in cleared areas beneath rocks or logs in burrows and is found in the greater Melbourne region.

A bird, a male Superb Lyrebird, dancing on the ground and arching its tail over its back.
Museums Victoria Collections

Superb Lyrebird

Superb Lyrebirds are excellent mimickers.

A Marbled Scorpion on sand with its tail raised above its body.
Museums Victoria Collections

Marbled Scorpion

Extinct mammal incisor with scratches.
Museums Victoria Collections

Diprotodon tooth

A tooth fossil showing markings which appear to be man-made.

Large orange-brown moth on bark.
Museums Victoria Collections

Helena Gum-moth

A very large moth with brownish orange wings and prominent eyespots.

Mountain Katydid, wings raised showing colourful abdomen.
Museums Victoria Collections

Mountain Katydid

An insect with striking crimson and blue abdominal bands.

A spider, the Huntsman, on wood.
Museums Victoria Collections

Huntsman

A nocturnally active spider that you may encounter on the ceiling of your house.

Dorsal view of male Red-headed Mouse Spider.
Museums Victoria Collections

Red Headed Mouse Spider

Lives in burrows in the ground, often in banks of rivers and creeks, and is sometimes found in suburban gardens.

A White-tailed Spider on a leaf.
Museums Victoria Collections

White-tailed Spider

White-tailed Spiders often wander, hunting at night to catch other spiders.

A Victorian Funnelweb Spider on brown and green moss.
Museums Victoria Collections

Victorian Funnelweb Spider

Lives in silk-lined burrows with strands of silk that radiate away from the entrance to help catch prey.

A Brown House Spider in its web.
Museums Victoria Collections

Brown House Spider

This spider makes a tangled web of sticky threads that attach to the ground or floor.

A Spotted Grass Frog with yellow stripe along its back.
Museums Victoria Collections

Spotted Grass Frog

A medium-sized frog with distinctive large regular-shaped brown or olive green blotches along its back.

White mineral crystals
External site

Minerals and Gemstones of Victoria

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