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Department of Zoology


As the Museum approaches the end of its redevelopment, undergraduate students are again being taught in the Museum space for the first time in five years. Sadly a generation of Natural Sciences (and other) undergraduates have missed the opportunity to access the collection and discover the treasures and stories within.  One such undergraduate recognised this disconnect and has created three short films that highlight aspects of the Museum collection that can be related to undergraduate teaching. 

Bruce Miller, now a final year Biological and Biomedical Sciences Zoology student, worked with Museum staff, curators and university lecturers to create three stories from the Museum collection that enhance and compliment Natural Sciences courses taken in all three years of an undergraduate degree.


This first film documents the evolution of brood parasitism in bird and insect systems and traces similarities in the parallel co-evolutionary arms races that emerge in both these systems.  This film extends ideas presented in the first year course: Part IA Evolution and Behaviour, second year course Part IB Animal Biology and the third year Part II Zoology module:  Evolution and Behaviour: populations and societies.


The second film highlights the conservation challenges presented by island endemic birds, making use of some of the rarest specimens in the collection.  Again this film provides several case studies relevant to material covered in Part IB Ecology and the Part II Zoology module Conservation Science.


This final film focuses on the threats facing Lake Malawi, its endemic populations of cichlid fishes, and its people. The film compliments Part IB Ecology, Part II Zoology modules Conservation Science and Applied Ecology and Part II Pathology.

Bruce says that creating these three films was challenging work but ultimately extremely rewarding. One of the highlights was the chance to talk with researchers from the Sanger Institute who recently brought the collection of cichlids to the Museum that tell the story of Lake Malawi. This experience highlighted that there are many more untold stories surrounding the history of the collections and the ongoing research in the Museum.

The project was funded by the J Arthur Ramsay Fund and the Selwyn College Master's fund.