Events 

talk in the museum

Festival of Ideas - Tea-time tours
Tuesday 15th, Wednesday 16th, Thursday 17th Friday 18th October 17.00 – 18.00
Free drop in. Age 12+

The Sedgwick Museum celebrates the Festival of Ideas and Earth Science Week with an exciting series of short informal teatime tours. A different tour guide each evening will introduce you to selected highlights from our amazing collection and showcase their favourite object.

Please arrive at the Museum by 5pm. Doors close 5.15 and the half hour tour will begin.

 kids drawing

Festival of Ideas - The Family Science Sketch
Wednesday 23rd October 10.00 – 13.00
Free. Family drop in

The best way to really see something is to draw it. This half term, help us to celebrate the Festival of Ideas with our family Science Sketch. Choose something in the Museum to draw and we can add your drawing to our 'Wall of Fame' which will be published on our social media after half term. If you are stuck for inspiration, why not have a go at one of our challenge cards? This event is working in partnership with a local Adoption group to celebrate families with adopted children.

FOI programme

With hundreds of free events over two weeks, the Cambridge Festival of Ideas is one of the most exciting and dynamic occasions in the Cambridge cultural calendar. Find out more

 carving above door

Earth Science Week – Cambridge Geology Trail
Saturday 19th October 10.30-12.00
Free. Age 12+

Discover rocks and fossils in Cambridge City centre. This walking tour of Cambridge will introduce you to just a few of the rock types and geological features that can be found hidden in the walls, roofs and pavements around the city centre.

Please wear appropriate clothing for the weather.
Meet at the steps of the museum 10mins before the tour starts.

earth science week logo

Earth Science week events are held accross the country, find out about more events Geological Societies website

wheres wally

Where’s Wally? The Big Museum Hunt
19th October - 2nd November
Free family trail

Join the search for Wally with your family at the Sedgwick Museum this half term. We’re part of the national Where’s Wally? The Big Museum Hunt, organised by Kids in Museums and Walker Books, to celebrate the release of the new Where’s Wally? book, Double Trouble at the Museum. Can you find Wally in our collections? Pick up an activity sheet and get a special sticker if you do!

Once you have found Wally in our collection, pop over the road to the Zoology museum and see if you can find Wally there too.




Don't forget to check out the University of Cambridge Museum's What's On guide to events across all eight Museum and garden venues.

Monday to Friday
10:00 to 13:00 & 14:00 to 17:00

Saturday
10:00 to 16:00 

Sunday
Closed

 



My name is Andrew Simpson and I am a gallery volunteer at the Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences and a recent MGeol graduate in Geology with Paleobiology from the University of Leicester. My main interest is in vertebrate palaeontology, however, I like writing about all facets of palaeontology, from evolutionary history to fossil lagerstätten.

Science, like any organism, is constantly changing over time with scientific theories evolving to fit the best available evidence. This phenomenon is prevalent throughout the scientific world but can be very clearly seen in Palaeontology. There are many instances of reconstructions of extinct life being different in the past than they are today. One example, represented in the Sedgwick Museum, is the Carboniferous arthropod Megarachne ("Great Spider"). Once thought to be the largest spider ever, further research in 2005 found it to instead be a medium sized species of freshwater sea scorpion (though I don’t think this makes Megarachne less unsettling to look at!)

However one of the most interesting cases of an extinct animal whose palaeontological reconstruction has changed with new discoveries is the Cambrian arthropod Anomalocaris ("strange shrimp"). The Cambrian, from an evolutionary perspective, was a renaissance. New body plans and weird evolutionary experiments were emerging. Some animals became extinct soon after they appeared. Some, like the trilobites, survived for an amazingly long period of time. While others would evolve into the main animal groups alive today.
Anomalocaris is one of these weird wonders. It was discovered in 1892 by Joseph Whiteeves in the Burgess Shale formation in Canada. The original fossil looked shrimp-like but with no clear headparts. For a long time this was the only known description, its lifestyle a complete mystery. Later in 1911 the palaeontologist Charles Walcott, who also worked on the Burgess Shale, discovered a fossil which looked like a primitive jellyfish. He gave it the name Peytoia nathorsti.
Now you may be wondering "I thought you were going to be talking about Anomalocaris? Why have you wondered off topic?" Well this is where it gets interesting! In the early 1980s, Cambridge University palaeontologist, Harry Whittington, saw something astounding whilst preparing another Burgess Shale fossil. As he chipped away at the rock he noticed two Anomalocaris "shrimps" attached to the head of a larger body of another creature. Not only that, but a Peytoia fossil was attached to this same head. It became clear that the Anomalocaris shrimp and the Peytoia jellyfish were not separate species, but all part of one large Cambrian animal.

Anomalocaris was the top predator of its day. At around a metre long it was the largest animal the earth had seen to that point. After identifying its prey using large compound eyes, it then used its prongs to grab its prey. Anomalocaris then held its prey close to its mouth-parts so they could break through the hard exoskeleton. anomalocarids were widely successful, ranging across the globe from Canada to China and living from the Early to Middle Cambrian. While most anomalocarids were predators, a filter feeding species was described in 2014 and named Tamisiocaris borealis ("sieve shrimp").
So anomalocarids, the strange shrimps of the Cambrian, really are one of the most fascinating group of arthropods known. They are a great example of the evolutionary variety that has evolved on this planet.

Andrew Simpson


This week we reached a major landmark in the development of the Museum’s new Collections Research Centre. We’ve just been handed the keys to the brand new Colin Forbes Building, a purpose-built collections store to house our internationally important rock and fossil collections.  We now start the ambitious task of moving our rock collection – weighing more than 150 tonnes – from a variety of locations across Cambridge.  Bringing our collections together, and creating a space where we can welcome research visitors enables us to take a big step towards our aim of creating a world-leading centre for Earth Sciences collections research.