Max

DISPLAYING POSTS BY: Max (9)

Max

Max is one of the Discovery Centre crew. In his job, Max explores the dizzying heights of scientific enquiry, crawls through the undergrowth of social history and dives into geneaology. Unfortunately, Max has no sense of direction.

Town Skull, Country Skull

Author
by Max
Publish date
1 April 2014
Comments
Comments (1)

Skulls in the DC showcase. Skulls in the DC showcase.
Image: Max Strating
Source: Museum Victoria
 

One of the advantages of working in the Discovery Centre is that you’re in the box seat, so to speak, when you need something identified. I recently found a Teeny Weeny Skull behind the skirting board whilst doing renovations at the family holiday house on the South Gippsland coast. I immediately thought it could be a Microbat (Microchiroptera) as we had a colony in the laundry wall years ago.  I put the Teeny Weeny Skull in a matchbox and took it home with me. 

Antechinus skull in the DC showcase. Antechinus skull in the DC showcase.
Image: Max Strating
Source: Museum Victoria
 

The next time I was in the Discovery Centre I went to our showcase that contains skulls, skeletons, insects and assorted animals in order for people to do their own identifications. I scanned the case and noticed one that initially looked very much like the Teeny Weeny Skull. It was an Antechinus. If my specimen was an Antechinus, this was exciting; a friend who also had a property near mine had found an Antechinus (a Swamp Antechinus Antechinus minimus). They had given it to me to have it identified by our experts. It was duly examined, identity confirmed and a sample of its DNA was taken. It was also placed on the Atlas of Living Australia as one had not been registered from that location before.

Black Rat, Water Rat and House mouse skulls in the DC showcase. Black Rat, Water Rat and House mouse skulls in the DC showcase.
Image: Max Strating
Source: Museum Victoria
 

But my excitement was short-lived - alas, there were differences between my specimen and the Antechinus skull – the bones of the eye orbit weren’t the same, the teeth were quite different and the snout of the Teeny Weeny Skull was shorter. A further scan of the case revealed a match – Mus musculus – a House mouse! That’s right: an ordinary, garden variety mouse, not its more exciting native Australian (sort-of) counterpart. Mind you, if I had just consulted Bioinformatics Skull Views I might have worked it out sooner…

House Mouse skull The Teeny Weeny Skull: a House Mouse
Image: Max Strating
Source: Museum Victoria
 

When Museum Victoria is not enough

Author
by Max
Publish date
24 December 2013
Comments
Comments (3)

You come to the museum and ask; ‘Do you have any (insert hoped for item - cocoa tins, paper bags, vintage telephones, glass time capsules, etc) on display?’ To which we respond by explaining that, even though Museum Victoria has about 17 million or so objects in our collection, we only have a tiny fraction on display. This causes you great disappointment as you are one of those members of the public with specific interests and desires. You can view more at Collections Online, but you want to see the actual objects in the flesh don’t you? Well fear not, now you only need to visit Victorian Collections, a project developed in partnership by Museum Victoria and Museums Australia (Victoria)

 

SSW Shopping Bag Two brown paper bags which were available for free in SSW Supermarkets, so that customers could pack their grocery purchases to be able to take them home. The bags have SSW advertising printed on them in red, yellow, and navy blue inks.
Image: Sunshine and District Historical Society
Source: Sunshine and District Historical Society
 

Here you can search the database to discover your favourite things and where they might live. You like all things glass? Well, there are hundreds of items for your viewing pleasure, but the best of all if you click on the object it will tell you where you will find it. It could be beer glasses from Dixon's Hotel, now the Commonwealth Hotel in Orbost. You’ll find these at the Orbost and District Historical Society Inc. So jump on your bike and start peddling. Or how about a Glass vessel time capsule c1800's? Alfred Hospital Nursing Archives. Start walking - it’s around the corner.

 

Old Dutch Cocoa Tin Tin metal and tin top for cocoa with colour print and round internal lid. Caption of a woman drinking cocoa, red Australian flag and British flag on other faces. Top embossed "H". Marked - "Old Dutch Cocoa", "Net Weight 8 ozs," (Display side) "Manufactured by Hoadley's Chocolates Ltd, Australia.
Image: Flagstaff Hill Maritime Museum
Source: Flagstaff Hill Maritime Museum
 

Now you never have to go without, never have to say ‘Gee I wish they had more Hand Planes’ (nearly 1500 – check it out). All you need do is get online, go to Victorian Collections then set off for one of the many unique and varied museums that can be found dotted across the Victorian countryside. Enjoy!

 

Mobile Telephone handset, battery in carry case. The Future is here! Early mobile phone. Bought in 1990 this was the first type of mobile phone used in the field by ATCV.
Image: Conservation Volunteers
Source: Conservation Volunteers Corner University Drive & Enterprise Grove Mount Helen 3350
 

Drawing class in the Discovery Centre

Author
by Max
Publish date
5 September 2013
Comments
Comments (0)

We recently had a request from Debbie Mourtzios, a teacher at Box Hill Institute, to hold a drawing class for Graphic Design students at the Discovery Centre using natural science specimens.

Discovery Centre Drawing class Discovery Centre Drawing class
Image: Debbie Mourtzios
Source: Debbie Mourtzios
 

As the theme of the class was texture, Debbie asked if we could supply examples of fur, feathers, scales, claws, wings, or anything that can illustrate textures.

  Discovery Centre Drawing class Discovery Centre Drawing class
Image: Debbie Mourtzios
Source: Debbie Mourtzios
 

We contacted our Vertebrates Collection Manager who gladly loaned us specimens from the Mammal, Bird and Herpetology collections. We also used specimens in the DC’s interpretive collection. We had bird wings, an echidna, a glass sponge skeleton, a bird of paradise, various bones, reptiles, shark egg cases, all on tables in the Seminar Room, plus all the interpretive collection objects in the Discovery Centre itself. They were not wont for variety.

  Discovery Centre Drawing class Discovery Centre Drawing class
Image: Max Strating
Source: Museum Victoria
 

The eighteen students spent two hours drawing the various specimens. It was very rewarding to watch the students using the centre and its resources; it was also unusually quiet for such a large group. I guess that’s what focused attention sounds like.

Discovery Centre Drawing class Discovery Centre Drawing class
Image: Debbie Mourtzios
Source: Debbie Mourtzios
 

Links

Victoria & Albert Museum

Ally the possum

Author
by Max
Publish date
25 June 2013
Comments
Comments (1)

Ally the Possum Ally the Possum
Image: Simon O'Brien
Source: Simon O'Brien

Guess who's back! No it's not Slim Shady – it's Ally the albino possum! After assuming she was lost for good, we now have several confirmed sightings...well, sightings of an albino possum in the same neck of the woods. It was either Ally, or as our expert pointed out, it could be a 'once in a generation' relative. Anyway, there are photographs so you can be the judge.

Ally the Possum Ally the Possum
Image: Simon O'Brien
Source: Simon O'Brien

Simon from Hampton photographed her near Haileybury School in Hampton in early 2013 – that’s over two kilometres on the other side of the Nepean Highway from where she was first spotted. If you recall, she was brought to our attention by Steve Mitchelmore in January 2012, near Landcox Park in East Brighton. Apparently possums can range over large distances.

  Ally the Possum Up close and personal
Image: Rick
Source: Rick

She was also spotted and photographed by Rick who lives in East Brighton, again near Haileybury. Rick first spotted Ally in early 2012 with her mother, about the same time that Steve did. Six months later he saw her again, this time on the power lines – maybe that’s how she gets from one side of East Brighton to the other?

Such an adventurous possum - who knows where she’ll turn up next?

The Adventures of Ally, the albino Possum

Author
by Max
Publish date
21 November 2012
Comments
Comments (10)

One of the many questions we are asked in the Discovery Centre is about the many and varied birds and mammals people sight in their own surburban backyards.  One such enquiry came to us from Steve from East Brighton who had spotted an albino possum in his garden.

Ally, the albino possum Ally, the albino possum
Image: Steve Mitchelmore
Source: Steve Mitchelmore
 

In February 2012 Steve discovered an albino baby brush-tail possum in his backyard. He wanted to know how rare they were as he had been observing possums for years, and this is the first albino one he had seen. One of our experts responded with the following;

Albino mammals are not totally unknown; we have received specimens at about a three year interval on average. Once the gene is introduced into a local population then their occurrence becomes a bit more periodic although only about once in a generation. Because they are not camouflaged as well as their parents or siblings they are readily detected by predators and could be easily taken as prey. A true albino will also have poor eyesight due to the lack of pigmentation in the eye again making them susceptible to predation. It will be interesting to follow this young animal and see how it survives such traumas.

Ally, the albino possum Ally, the albino possum
Image: Steve Mitchelmore
Source: Steve Mitchelmore
 

To which Steve responded;

About three weeks ago I noticed the small tail and one paw protruding from the mother's pouch seemed unnaturally pale in colour, then last night the juvenile, creamy white with deep red eyes, was on its mother's back...

P.S. Regarding predators, do you know if Powerful Owls inhabit the East Brighton area?

To which our expert replied;

I am unsure about the Powerful Owl’s situation in East Brighton but I can say that they have been seen/heard in many Melbourne suburbs. So if the area concerned is heavily vegetated – that is with large trees then there is every possibility that one of these large owls will make its presence felt.

Early in July, Steve sent the following update;

... you mentioned that it would be interesting to follow her development and any 'traumas' she may endure.  She still comes by almost every night, having been AWOL on only six or seven occasions since late January.  She has the un-original name of 'Ally' (as in Ally the Albino)...  As for traumas, so far so good, apart from when she fell into the pool three nights ago.  Luckily the water level was so high following all the recent rain that she had no trouble getting herself out. 

Ally, the albino possum Ally, the albino possum
Image: Steve Mitchelmore
Source: Steve Mitchelmore
 

Then in late July, he sent in his last update;

Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but . . . Sadly, Ally has not been sighted since Monday night...Some months ago she disappeared for three nights straight, but I won't hold my breath after seven.  I've made numerous calls to local vets, DSE, Wildlife Victoria...Animal Rescue etc. all to no avail and searches of neighbouring yards for fur or remains have also been fruitless... I'm still amazed she survived as long as she did.  Anyway, it was certainly an enjoyable (and educational!) six months.  She will be sadly missed. Once again, thanks for your time and response to my emails.

Got a question? Ask us!

UPDATE: Ally has been spotted again!

Links

WILD: Amazing animals in a changing world

Bioinformatics

Talkin' 'bout my generation

Author
by Max
Publish date
14 July 2012
Comments
Comments (3)

Your Question: First generation Australians?

I was wondering (well I’ve been wondering for a while now)... if my parents brought my family over to Australia, who are classed as “first generation Australian”? Is it my children or both my parents and my brother, sister and I being the first generation? Thanks, Vera

Until you asked that question, I thought I was a first generation Australian because my Mum and Dad were born in Holland and I was born here. I liked being a first generation Australian, there's something 'fresh' and 'new', almost 'original' about it.

  Gin family Citizenship ceremony Vera (second on the right) and her first generation family at their citizenship ceremony in 1993
Image: Godfrey Gin
Source: Godfrey Gin
 

But no, now I find I've been relegated to second place by people like you and your family!

Family photo Two first and three second generation Australians. Mum and Dad with their boys.Traralgon,1963.
Source: Max Strating
 

That's right, if you were born overseas but now live in Australia, you are a first generation Australian. If you have children, they will become the second generation (like me). But don't just take my word for it; here is what the Australian Bureau of Statistics says on their Population characteristics: Ancestry of Australia's population webpage;

  • First generation Australians are people living in Australia who were born overseas.
  • Second generation Australians are Australian-born people living in Australia, with at least one overseas-born parent.

First generation Australians enjoying the great “Aussie” outdoors First generation Australians enjoying the great “Aussie” outdoors
Image: Godfrey Gin
Source: Godfrey Gin
 

So there you have it, you are one of life's winners coming first – generationally at least.

Got a question? Ask us!

About this blog

Updates on what's happening at Melbourne Museum, the Immigration Museum, Scienceworks, the Royal Exhibition Building, and beyond.

Categories