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Gothic Gargoyles!

Yesterday morning we had a lovely surprise waiting for us in the Vivarium  – 2 beautiful baby Gargoyle Geckos, Rhacodactylus auriculatus, had hatched overnight! 🙂 Well, I say hatched, but they were actually still in their eggs, with their little heads out surveying their new world with wide eyes. These geckos take 2 months to develop in the egg before cutting their way out. As they emerge from their egg-sack at this stage it’s a particularly vulnerable time for them, and if disturbed too much they may even refuse to put their heads out and can easily suffocate. These beautiful geckos are another species from New Caledonia and can come in 2 forms, striped or reticulated. Ours are the striped form and grow to look spectacular as adults. As they mature, they also develop strange-looking bumps on their heads which look almost like ears, which is what their latin name refers to. However, the common name of gargoyle gecko also relates to how their heads look as adults, very much like a gothic gargoyle. Our adults really remind me of some of the stone gargoyle heads found on the building our vivarium is housed in.

The Vivarium is located in a beautiful Victorian gothic building which first opened in 1885 and was actually designed by the famous Victorian Gothic Revival architect Alfred Waterhouse, who also designed Manchester’s Town Hall and the Natural History Museum in London. One of the other great things about working at the Museum for me is having such fabulous architectural surroundings, as I am particular fan of Victorian gothic architecture. Looking out from my office through leaded windows to view the beautiful stonework, gothic arches, patterned rooflines, and all the intricate detailing everywhere, it really is a gorgeous building – particularly when the sun casts such light as it does today. I am now viewing those gargoyles in a new light  (sorry, couldn’t resist 🙂

For further information on the history of  The Manchester Museum see: http://www.museum.manchester.ac.uk/aboutus/history/


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