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Undergraduate Teaching Session

On Friday I delivered a practical teaching session based on adaptation and classification for our 1st year Zoology and Biology students from the Faculty of Life Sciences. The session has been developed in collaboration with my colleague Dr Amanda Bamford and together we aim to provide our students with the best possible learning experience. This practical session allows students to get first-hand experience with some of our live animals from the Vivarium collection and introduces them to basic taxonomy and the use of dichotomous keys.

I would like to say a big thank you to Amanda, and to all the demonstrators who helped on Friday. I’d also like to say what a pleasure it was to welcome our students from FLS to the Museum and hope they enjoyed the session as much as we did delivering it.


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    Teaching                      UOM Zoology Society                   Faculty of Life Sciences

The Boy Who Really Really Really Loves Lizards

Hello. My name is John Hamilton and I have been invited by Andrew to write a piece for FrogBlog about a project I have been doing. I am a practising artist, based at Rogue Artists Studios in Manchester. I have recently completed a Masters degree in Children’s Book Illustration which is where my link to the Manchester Museum comes in. For my final project I decide to use the Vivarium section as the focus for my book.

The idea for ‘The Boy Who Really Really Really Loves Lizards’ began with my son Oliver’s love of the Vivarium section.

Whenever we visited, he would make his way through the museum, straight to the lizards, frogs and snakes, searching for them amongst the plants.

On one of our visits we were lucky to join in with one of Andrews tours, which allowed Oliver to stroke the lizards, to hold the frogs and to go behind the scenes to see baby snakes and more lizards!

It was after this visit that I decide to base the story around this section of the museum. I then spent a couple of days doing observation drawings in the museum to get ideas for the characters and scenes for the book.

The story looks at the obsessions that children have and how everything, from what they wear, eat and do, has to has to revolve around it, whether it is a colour, an animal or a character from a TV programme. In this case it is lizards. These obsessions can last a few weeks then they are often taken over by something new and it all begins again…

The 32-page picturebook produced is the final part of my MA course in Children’s Book Illustration.

You can see more about the book on my blog site at www.johnhamiltonartist.blogspot.com

You can also see other examples of my art work at


I would love to know what you think of the work and welcome any feedback.


Who listens when a blog talks?

As views on the blog near 100,000, it’s prompted me to contemplate how far-reaching the voice of a blog can actually extend. Since starting the blog I have had feedback from all corners of the world and it’s so good when I get comments back from people – communication’s a two way thing so thanks to everyone for their  feedback and support. Because the blog is not just restricted to herpetology, amphibians or reptiles, but conservation and far-reaching ecological issues, it’s also great to know its reaching such a worldwide audience. Wherever you are in the world I would love to hear back from you anytime, so perhaps you might think about  joining WordPress and sending me a comment or question or two? It’s free, and so easy to do.

Because it’s not always possible to judge how posts are received, viewing stats to assess a response is sometimes the only thing bloggers have to do this.  However, recently WordPress has come up with a fantastic new map feature for its bloggers that allows them to see exactly where on Earth all the visitors to their site are coming from, it’s amazing  –  and amazing for me to see that in the past month frogblog has had visitors from 58 countries around the world!

Find out more about the map use if you are already a WordPress user

Not already a WordPress user but would like send me a comment

Jatun Sacha

The first time I ever travelled to Ecuador, I visited a very special place – a particular primary rainforest reserve that held the most incredible amount of species I have ever witnessed. The research station I stayed at was called Jatun Sacha. That was many, many years ago. It was such a remarkable place, an experience I could never forget…

Recently, by chance, my path crossed with Silvana Bacca, the Jatun Sacha international volunteer co-ordinator. In all the places, in all the World, Manchester.

For the next talk in our series, on the 13th March, Silvana will be giving a special presentation about Ecuador and the incredible volunteer opportunities now being offered by the Jatun Sacha Foundation. Opportunities that include volunteer, research, and community-based programs in five biological stations located in the Andes, Coastal Region, Amazonian Rainforest, and the Galapagos Archipelago.

Everyone is welcome to attend the talk, which will be held in the Kanaris Theatre at The Manchester Museum between 12 – 1pm.  So, if you’re University staff, a student, or a member of the public, you might want to let your friends and colleagues know about this event. This talk, and the opportunities presented, are open to all. The talk will start at 12.00 prompt and is there is no charge whatsoever.

Why not come along and find out how you could work in one of the most biologically diverse areas in the World.  Who knows where it could lead…

Jatun Sacha      Manchester Museum     Tale from the Bush     Personal Presentations

Many thanks to our Vivarium Volunteer Xaali for producing the fab poster above!