Have you heard about the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum? Well, it is actually a department under the Faculty of Science located at the National University of Singapore where their staff train the next generation of undergraduates and graduates in biodiversity science. This museum also actively conduct research on South East Asian plants and animals say, such as the horseshoe crab to prevent it from extinction….
Did you know that the horseshoe crab is actually a living fossil, as old as or even older then the dinosaurs… and that the horseshoe crab has blue blood..? No?
I did not know about it too until I went to the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum… and not only that… , while some Malaysians like the meat, the horseshoe crab is hunted all over the world for its blood…said to contain or used to produce a substance called Limulus Amebocyte Lysate (LAL). LAL is used to test intravenous drugs and medical equipment for the presence of bacteria and endotoxin, a poison found in many bacteria. And because of this, this living fossil is not on the danger of decline… as many of those horseshoe crabs which are being bled cannot survive or live long… However, the substance found is also very important to human lives, and after much research, the NUS Faculty of Science has come out with synthetic blue blood very much similar to these horseshoe crab’s blood in the bid to help preserve this creature’s continual existence on this earth…
The LKCNHM was officially opened to public in 2015… but LKCNHM has a long history. It is actually quite old with beginnings all the way back to 1823, when the founder of modern Singapore, Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, established the Singapore Institution.
The main gallery – the biodiversity gallery consists of 15 zones, tracing the history of life on earth. Different sections are devoted to the origin of life and all major branches of the Tree of Life. This includes green plants, fungi, molluscs, arthropods, “fish”, amphibians, “reptiles”, birds, and mammals. Other sections are dedicated to demonstrating how terrestrial vertebrates evolved from “fish” and why birds are actually “dinosaurs.”
On the mezzanine floor you can find the heritage zone, where the history of the Raffles Museum and LKCNHM forms the backdrop to the history of natural history in Singapore. It is where visitors can “explore” Singapore’s history of biodiversity work, find out more about the men and women who helped build this, and the biological treasures the museum has accumulated over 137 years of its history…
Actually to tell you the truth, the main reason for me to head here to this museum was of course to check out the real dinosaur bones- which had been excavated or unearthed painstakingly in Wyoming, all buried together and then imported here and put together again… but once I was in the museum, both my daughter and I were awestruck and amazed by the awesome exhibits, some dating to over 150 years old and more….and among this was also the bones/ skeleton of a sperm whale that had washed up on one of the beaches in Singapore last year…
And from the whale skeleton, we also learn how we humans destroy these animals by throwing rubbish into the sea, eating them and so on, as this beautiful creature was found dead with plenty of rubbish, plastic bottles and containers inside its belly, and some of the rubbish are also on display near the skeleton…..
You and your kids will definitely learn a whole lot of stuff here… and there is actually a free tour conducted by the university students at about 1pm every day which you can join for free, my daughter was so engrossed she went around the exhibits twice or thrice…It is really very fascinating as you get to listen to the music of nature in the form of dinosaur roars, bird calls and chirping frogs.. and reverently touch fossils, tree slices, an elephant skull, and yes, even an actual dinosaur femur and a meteorite!!! You will also find a number of antique specimens dating over 150 years old!!!
The museum contains one of the largest biological collections in South East Asia with over a million specimens in modern storage facility and used for research by academics, students and scientists from Singapore and all over the world….
Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum
The museum is opened everyday, except Mondays, from 10am to 7pm but last admission is at 5.30pm