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Acquisitions at the British Museum (Natural History)

Nature volume 143, pages 714715 (29 April 1939) | Download Citation



THE trustees of the Museum have purchased for the Department of Geology the terminal section of a tail-sheath of an extinct giant armadillo (Hoplo-phorits sp.) discovered in the Pleistocene deposits of Santa Fé, Argentine. The giant armadillos had a solid bony shell and armour of the same type on the head and tail. When danger threatened, they withdrew their limbs into the shell, closed the head end by means of the bony casque, and lashed the club-like tail from side to side so as to ward off attack from the rear. Some genera had massive horny spikes on the end of the tail, but in Hoplo-phorus the tail was covered with scales. The Department of Mineralogy has acquired a superb specimen of chessylite from Tsumeb in South-West Africa, and an extremely beautiful specimen with bright yellow plates of wulfenite (lead molybdate) on a glistening white ground of calcite crystals from Arizona. The Department has also purchased from the widow of the late Dr. A. E. H. Tutton a collection of the salts, chiefly double sulphates and selenates of the alkalis (potassium, rubidium, caesium, etc.), utilized by Dr. Tutton in his researches on the relation between physical properties and chemical composition in iso-morphous series of compounds. An important addition to the departmental library is a first edition of the “Speculum Lapidum” by Camillus Leonardus, physician to Caesar Borgia, to whom the book is dedicated. It is a fine example of the printing press of Sessa in Venice. The book was one of the most widely read ‘lapidaries’ of the time, and its editions ran from the first in Latin in 1502 (forty-four years before Agricola's “De Natura Fossilium”) to an English edition in 1750, bridging the gap between medieval and modern mineralogy. The late Frederick Adams of Jersey has bequeathed to the Department of Botany a collection of 23,000 microscope slides of diatoms, together with catalogues, books and pamphlets, and the microscope with which he worked. For many years past Mr. Adams acquired whatever diatom collections came on the market, and thus accumulated the largest collection in private hands.

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