Exhibition Preview: Nocturnal Creatures, Natural History Museum at Tring, Tring, August 31 - November 17 2013
Although some people describe themselves as night owls, few human beings have truly adapted to being creatures of the night. For most of us, light is essential in how we navigate and understand the world we inhabit.
© Natural History Museum
Some animals, however, have evolved amazing ways to compensate for lack of light. It is these animals that Nocturnal Creatures at the Natural History Museum at Tring will celebrate.
A low-lit gallery will get visitors in the mood and help to uncover some of the secrets of the animals’ super-senses. Echolocation is probably the best-known of these, especially that of bats.
In order to navigate and hunt, bats emit a high-pitched squeak (far above anything a human can hear) and use their sensitive ears to hear the echo bouncing back.
Research has shown that some humans are capable of a similar feat but other nocturnal animals have evolved senses that humans do not possess at all.
These include pit vipers, which use heat detection to perceive changes in the temperature around them, and electric eels that generate electrical pulses to sense their surroundings, fend off predators and hunt.
Insects such as fireflies use bioluminescence to create their very own light as a persistent glow or bright flash in order to attract a mate.
To help visitors understand these senses, specimens ranging from foxes to frogs and lorises to lemurs, as well as live creatures such as wriggling worms will be on display.
Origami materials will also be available for visitors to try their hand at making their very own nocturnal animal to be displayed in the exhibition space.
- Open 10am-5pm (2pm-5pm Sunday). Admission free. Follow the museum on Twitter @NHM_London.