Arachnida and Myriapoda at the Natural History Museum

“On Wednesday 27 February, I went to the Natural History Museum in London after being invited to see the Curator of Arachnida and Myriapoda, Jan Beccaloni. I want to be an arachnologist when I am older and after speaking to staff in the Investigation area on a previous day, they invited me to meet Jan.  I went with my Mum and Dad to Jan’s secret office behind the scenes and she took us into the secure storage area where they store many specimens.

Jan’s job is to look after all the specimens of arachnida and myriapoda that are kept in alcohol with special chemicals in it so people don’t drink it!  Jan also has to identify the specimens from their features, label them, and source difference creatures from around the world for the Natural History Museum’s collection.

Jan gave me a lab coat and gloves so that I could hold some of the specimens.  I got to hold a goliath bird-eating spider (the heaviest spider in the world!), a sea spider, ticks, a millipede and centipede, a horseshoe crab, and my favourite: the death stalker scorpion, which is the most deadly scorpion in the world!  Jan taught us a lot about them and asked me lots of questions. Some of the specimens are hundreds of years old and Jan showed me huge, old catalogues she has to help her identify what they are called. I am very excited that Jan has invited me back another time and said she will show me some more creatures, such as a giant squid!

The visit inspired me even more to be an arachnologist and I had an extremely interesting time.”