A young man holds a fossil.
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The puzzle of Melbourne’s small and ancient seals

‘Landmark’ study rewrites the history of seals in southern Australia thanks to fragmentary fossils washed up on a Melbourne beach. 

Two people stand before a white sheet in an arid forest at twilight.
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Who are the moth hunters?

Meet the citizen scientists who are, literally, discovering new species in their backyards.

A black and white image of a toadlet.
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Under fire: The animals threatened by Australia’s bushfire crisis

If there’s one place in the world that knows about extinction, it’s a natural history museum.

A large, smooth surfaced black rock.
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Eleven incredible meteorites

The Murchison is just one of many strange and storied space rocks held by Museums Victoria. Here are 10 others—as well as one which disappeared.

A fearsome, two-legged dinosaur with strong, grasping arms.
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Who wielded the Otway Claw?

Meet Victoria’s top Cretaceous predator—a dinosaur that would have eaten Velociraptor for breakfast.

A spider sits atop a pencil.
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Why the 2010s were the decade of the peacock spider

How disruptors and digital technology led to a frenzy of scientific discovery.

A woman sketches a plant cutting while sitting on a grass tree.
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The trials and triumphs of a trailblazing scientist

Hope Macpherson was a woman who broke barriers. 

People wearing high vis working on a beach
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The 700

More than 700 individuals whose combined efforts, starting in 1984, have brought to light fossils in what has been dubbed by one of them “The Dinosaur Dreaming Project”.

Deep sea creatures
External site

Sampling the Abyss

The Sampling the Abyss voyage, 15 May–16 June 2017

An illustrated dragon's head seen from two angles.
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When is a creature extinct?

And does this dragon still exist?

External site

Wedderburn meteorite

A meteorite from the core of another planet contains one of the rarest minerals on earth.

<em>Lithoconus leopardus</em>, Leopard cone.
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What is the most venomous animal in the world?

And how its deadly venom could save lives.

A group of young men in an alleyway holding a satellite.
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Backyard ballistics: Australia's first DIY satellite

A DIY guide to reaching outer space.

Visit Scienceworks

Skynotes

Our monthly newsletter on where to find the brightest planets in Melbourne.

A male Maratus volans peacock spider. Image made available through generous donation of its original author.
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What good are spiders?

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

Strap-snouted Brown Snake, Pseudonaja aspidorhyncha.
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8 myths about snakes

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

External site

The first taipan to be milked for venom

Bird perched on a branch
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Listening for Nature

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

H.L. White egg collection, tray of Magpie eggs.
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The colour of birds' eggs

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

External site

A.J. Campbell on Google Arts & Culture

Passionate ornithologist, naturalist and photographer.

External site

The first donation to the Museum

 Mounted specimen of the Little Pied Cormorant

pink cockatoo
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Indigenous Biodiversity

An Aboriginal perspective on Australia's threatened species.

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.
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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?

Worker bees with pollen stored in beehive cells.
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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.

Hog nosed rat
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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.

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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.

whale preying on fish
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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.

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

River at sunset
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Discover Documentary: The Murray Explored Bioscan

Following in the footsteps of William Blandowski, the Museum's first curator.

Conservation at Museums Victoria.
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Discover Documentary: Conservation

From wedding dresses to meteorites, our Conservation team protect and preserve over 17 million objects in Museums Victoria's collection. This episode of Discover takes a look at how they do it!

Trees in Toolangi State Forest
Visit Melbourne Museum

Forest Secrets

At the heart of the museum is a piece of Victoria's mountain landscape with tall eucalypts, ferns, rare plants and wildlife. Delve in to the secrets of our Forest Galley.

Dinosaur skull cast
Visit Melbourne Museum

Dinosaur Walk

The Dinosaur Walk exhibition brings dinosaurs, pterosaurs and megafauna to life. Learn about the 17 skeletons of prehistoric animals on display!

A woman and 2 children pointing at a large screen
Visit Melbourne Museum

Dynamic Earth

Uncover the story of our planet. Dynamic Earth is a stunning exhibition that uses thousands of minerals to tell the story of our ever-changing planet.

Wombat, as depicted in 'An account of the English colony in New South Wales, from its first settlement in January 1788 to August 1801'.
Visit Melbourne Museum

The Art of Science

Museum Victoria's archive of artworks, working drawings and rare books traces the development of scientific art and provides a glimpse into a world of uncommon beauty.

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Eulogy for a seastar, Australia’s first recorded marine extinction

Today, I am writing a eulogy to the Derwent River Seastar (or starfish), that formerly inhabited the shores near the Tasman Bridge in Hobart, Tasmania.

A view of a whale at the surface from above
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Northern exposure: fossils of a southern whale found for the first time in the north

A totally unexpected discovery.

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Ancient whales had more bite than today’s gentle giants

The cutting edge of whale evolution

Newly-moulted Giant Spider Crab
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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.

Southern Blue-ringed Octopus
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Blue-ringed Octopus

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

Finished reconstruction of extinct Australian megafauna, Palorchestes.
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Australia's megafauna

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

Tasmanian tigers in captivity.
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Secrets from beyond extinction: the Tasmanian tiger

The entire thylacine genome has now been sequenced, revealing the apex marsupial predator was in poor genetic health and may have struggled to fight disease had it survived.

two rock fragments
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The Murchison meteorite

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

Worm on a black background
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Creature of the deep

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

Wombat poo
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The science of poo

Poo is truly fascinating stuff.

Centipede
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Do centipedes really have 100 legs?

Counting the feet on these ancient invertebrates.

moon rock in an museum exhibition
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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
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How do diamonds get their colours?

And what's so special about the pink ones?

Specimens in glass jars
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Extinct Tasmanian Tiger now back in 3D

Using 3D scanning, researchers are peeking under the preserved skin of Tasmanian tiger specimens to reconstruct its growth and development.

Cockroach
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Bountiful Mallee

Close encounters with Mallee insects.

Gymnobelideus leadbeateri, Leadbeater's Possum, mount.
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A good possum is hard to find

The story of Leadbeater's Possum is a remarkable one. 

skull
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Small(er) is beautiful

Megafaunal giants…in miniature

Auntie Veronica Barnett hand feeding eels, Milarri Garden, Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre, Melbourne Museum, 2011.
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Interview with Auntie Veronica Barnett

Museums Victoria staff member Auntie Veronica shares her story with archivist Nik Mcgrath.

The tower which formed the centre of an octagonal glasshouse in The System Garden.
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Our first Director's vision for a University Botanical Garden

How Melbourne University's System Garden came to be.

Professor Deirdre Coleman, Nik McGrath and Simon Hinkley in the ABC Radio Melbourne Studio, 19 November 2019.
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On the wing

Professor Deirdre Coleman, Nik McGrath and Simon Hinkley join Richelle Hunt in the ABC Radio Melbourne Studio.

Portrait of a young man
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George Lyell's letters

In addition to the development of his moth and butterfly collection, George Lyell’s letters reveal much about his personal relationships.

Portrait of Dr G.A. Waterhouse arranging specimens in his collection at the Australian Museum, 2 February 1931.
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Kindred spirits

Between 1891 and 1947, George Lyell and Gustavus Athol Waterhouse's regular correspondence shared a passion for moths and butterflies.

Mirabilis (female) from the George Lyell Collection at Melbourne Museum.
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Light sheets

Peter Marriott talks moth bioscans in the Otways for National Science Week at Melbourne Museum.

A pressed orchid specimen.
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Pressed Orchids

Unlike their Asian counterparts, Australian orchids like the rosy spider orchid, pictured below, are beautifully understated. Delicate and beautiful, they are not flashy like the orchids available at your local nursery.

Moth specimens in a museum collection
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Butterflies of the night

The aim of the "George Lyell Collection: Australian entomology past and present" project is to examine the George Lyell collection scientifically and culturally, and to share discoveries with the wider community.

“Butterflies of Australia” (1914) proofs from the Museums Victoria Archives
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Moths are beautiful too

At October's Nocturnal event, a multidisciplinary team of Museum workers and a guest speaker from University of Melbourne got together to present items from the George Lyell Collection to visitors.

Sepia portrait of a young man
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The sting of the final letter

Transcribing George Lyell's final documents.

Pluto
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Planet or dwarf planet?

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

The RRS James Clark Ross
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The Larsen-C Benthos expedition

What lurks beneath the Antarctic ice? Museums Victoria's Mel Mackenzie is one of the lucky scientists on a voyage south to find out.

sea slug
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Victoria's nudibranchs

The butterflies of the sea.

Black and orange beetle on a flower
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What are these swarming beetles in my garden?

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

DeepDream by Kit Webster, LightTime art installation on display in Scienceworks
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Dream Deep

The story behind Joe Meldrum's improvised dance piece in the infinity room of Scienceworks' LightTime exhibition.

Barramundi
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A treasure trove of freshwater fish biodiversity

The Kimberley region in Australia’s northwest is one our last great pristine unspoilt places, and a hotspot for species discovery.

Preparing fish specimens
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Putting names to faceless fishes from the abyss

Understanding which fish species occur where, and discovering new fish species, is the starting point to managing marine biodiversity.

Black wasp
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Predator vs predator

Wasps give huntsman spiders a taste of their own medicine.

Shark tooth and whale bone
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Whale vs shark

Evidence of shark bite 24 million years ago.

skull with testing equipment attached
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Augmented Humans

Melbourne is home to exciting new innovations combining medicine, design and technology. Many of these have the power to augment human abilities.

book cover
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Cephalopod Catalogue

Third and final volume by MV scientists now available

sea anemone and shrimp
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Sea anemone feast

Ever bitten off more than you can chew?

man with taxidermied koala
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Outreach koala

Preparing a specimen for education programs.

Image taken by a microscope of a bees head
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Buzz off!

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

The fossilised seal tooth, which is 3 million years old.
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Rare fossil tooth find sheds a light on Australia’s distant past

Read

Who’s digging in my lawn?

Learn about land crayfish and their burrows.

Female Badge Huntsman Spider underside
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Is my spider a boy or a girl?

At some times in a spider’s life it is easy to tell, but at other times it can be impossible.

Black Rock Scorpion
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Scorpion facts and fallacies

Are all scorpions dangerous? Answers to this and other common scorpion questions. 

A White-plumed Honeyeater aperch on a wire
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Birds and birdwatching

Birds are highly visible and vocal, spectacularly diverse and fascinating to watch and study.

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Your eight-legged housemates

At Museums Victoria we are often asked: “What kind of spider is this? It was in my house! Is it dangerous?”

A cute and furry little creature is held to camera.
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Nowhere to hide?

Searching for the elusive Tooarrana in the wake of the fires.

A white Eastern Grey Kangaroo
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Colour Variations: It doesn't look like that in the book

If an animal looks different to what you see in the field guides, there are many possible explanations - some more surprising than others.

Two celestial orbs crossing paths.
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Astronomy and the art of scientific storytelling

Capturing the awesome story of the universe.  

Trichoglossus haematodus: Rainbow Lorikeet
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Museums, Specimens and Taxidermy

Bringing the dead to life - sort of!

Lightning strike behind trees
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Catching Lightning

A fulgurite that took microseconds to form, a moment to break and over 50 years to reassemble.

External site

The Cape Paterson Claw Theropoda

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

External site

Melbourne Observatory collection

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

External site

Venoms & antivenoms at Museum Victoria

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

External site

Help us document biodiversity – record your own sightings

External site

Wolf spiders

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

External site

Australia's oldest insect specimen

A Common Evening Brown collected in China in 1742.

External site

Sudell's Frog

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

External site

Spiny Spider

Also known as the Christmas spider or jewel spider.

External site

Eastern Banjo Frog

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

External site

Redback Spider

External site

Leaf Green River Tree Frog

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

External site

Diprotodon tooth

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

External site

Spotted Grass Frog

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

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.

White mineral crystals
External site

Minerals and Gemstones of Victoria

See some of Museums Victoria's collection on Google Arts & Culture.

Illustration showing animals that lived from 635 million years–2.6 million years ago
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?

Black and white photo of a man in a suit operating a very old computer which is several cabinets in a row with many wires, switches and dials.
External site

CSIRAC - the world's oldest intact first-generation electronic computer

When it was built CSIRAC was at the cutting edge of the new field of computing.

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