Wednesday, 3 September 2014

A Grand Day Out – Camilla the Cockroach with typing assistance provided by Mary Cook

It’s a happy life at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History (OUMNH).  You get to hang out with your many friends, eat as much banana as you like, and nibble on the odd lump of dried cat food to keep your exoskeleton in good condition.  

We also like a good spritz of water to keep us healthy,  well – we are worth it, us Cockroaches! Underrated in the world  generally, here under the care of the Director of Life and his friends our true value is fully appreciated.  So much so that day trips are organised by the outreach Team so we can go and take a close look at some enormous creatures called human beings. 

We like human beings, who leave so much in the world for our wild cousins to feed on. Our antennae are good at detecting whether they are male or female, adult or child and whether they are good or bad at washing their hands.  Known as detritivores because we eat the stuff no one else would we and other arthropods like the scarab beetle keep the whole planet healthy. 

Last week , we went to Barton where we made some lovely new friends. These were the smaller variety of human being for the most part – smiley, occasionally sticky but always very friendly. 

Rachel lifting me out of my box

While out of the tank, taking a walk around the hands of a smaller human beings I learnt a lot of other things – for example I learnt that some of the taller human beings are not keen on us, but could learn to see why we are needed on the planet.  I spotted some friends in a box – scarab beetles.  They didn’t move much. Turns out scarab beetles like that were worshipped by the Ancient Egyptians who thought the Sun was a big ball of dung rolled about the sky by scarab beetle god named Khepri.  I am not aware of any cockroach worship, but I might bring it up with the Director of Life at the OUMNH.  

Much larger than the Scarab was an enormous rock that turned out to be an Elephant’s tooth.  I overheard one of the conversations about that tooth – apparently you can tell what an animal eats by its teeth.  “Elephants are herbivores and so are cows”  these smaller people knew some pretty large words I can tell you and they learnt more as the day went on. 

Elephant tooth

Another popular object with the children and parents was the Praxinoscope which rotates to show  moving pictures – a running horse or a running man or it turns out if you put two of the papers in together a man being chased by a tiger . . . the children really investigated the potential of the object seeing what happened at different speeds, with different images and even made the horse run backwards! 

Several of the children said that they had pets at home, but one of them said she would much prefer a cockroach to a cat.  Sensible girl.  

Others told our staff Rachel, Aisling, Rachel and Mary that they collected objects and made their own museums from shells and fossils and other interesting things.  Just about everyone who came said they would like to come to visit the museum collections.  

Staff and trainees

The seedpods of the Banksia and the Seabean were a big hit too – especially with the dribbly babies who loved the sounds and texture – their parents thought they might bring them along to see more plants and have a run around sometime too.  I was quite relieved at that.  One of those babies seemed to be considering the potential of having me as a snack! 

Apart from that one hesitation, it was wonderful to eavesdrop on so many conversations where the children and parents were having a great time with each other and learning too.  We had a lovely time.

Unfortunately eventually we had to go – I let everyone know I was less keen on the journey back by hissing through the spiracles in my abdomen, but unfortunately no one in the car was convinced I was a snake.   When we got back I thought the other insects were probably very jealous to hear we had spent such a lovely time in the sunshine with such interesting people, but its hard to read a stick insect and a tarantula who don’t speak cockroach fluently,  so maybe they were happy for us after all.

No comments:

Post a Comment