What I Did Today (Includes Spiders!)

My wife’s family are in town, so today we went around Cambridge and looked at some of the museums, including the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology and the Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences. OK, actually just those two, since both the Whipple Museum of the History of Science and the Zoology Museum were closed. Whatever. 

Here are some things I saw: 

Some meteorites which are like 4.6 billion years old or something, older than the actual earth. Just the other day I was complaining that prehistorians have some big-ass numbers to deal with, but geologists have them beat hollow. 

Megarachne, the biggest spider ever: 

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A Mexican black magic manual, “provenance unknown” (my suggestion would be, y’know, the Devil): 

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Charles Darwin’s gizzat: 

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And some elaborately-sheathed Sapmi knives once owned by Baron Anatole von Hugel, plus also some Fijian (I think? Maybe Tahitian?) “flesh forks,” otherwise “cannibal forks,” allegedly used for the consumption of human flesh. 

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Now, fer sure some of these forks were used for the consumption of human flesh, but as I understand it, and I am not an expert, there are a suspicious number of these so-called “cannibal forks,” and the consensus theory seems to be that as word got around that European sailors and explorers and whoever were interested in collecting these cannibal forks, maybe a lot more of them got carved than ever actually got used — for the collector’s market, like. 

Similarly, the display remarks that the use of a full-on antler as a sheath for von Hugel’s knife is really rare and odd, and raises the possibility that rather than an authentic artefact from that culture, what he has is basically just a souvenir. Now, of course, that fact is interesting in itself!

Also, I saw this. Sadly, I am unlikely to be able to go: 

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What I Did Today (Includes Spiders!)

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