In November 2014, Museum Victoria started a project to digitize and transcribe the field diaries in our collection. These diaries, handwritten by Australia’s early field naturalists long before the days of electronic notetaking, are rich in scientific data and historic detail. They provide insights into past species distribution and abundance, as well as the trials and wonders experienced on historic expeditions. They are fascinating sources of information and yet very few people have ever read them.
Tarantulas are amazing. Not only do they include the largest of all spiders, with some species reaching a legspan the size of a dinner plate, but they are arguably some of the most beautiful too. While famous for giants that inhabit the jungles of South America, some species barely grow larger than your thumb nail. Some species live on trees in damp forests while others live in self-constructed tubular burrows in the ground in some of the most inhospitable deserts. Some have special protective hairs on their bodies which cause extreme itching when they come into contact with the mucous membranes of potential predators, while others produce a hissing sound in self-defense.
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The Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL) is the world’s largest open access digital library for biodiversity literature and archives. Headquartered at the Smithsonian Libraries and Archives in Washington, D.C., BHL operates as a worldwide consortium of natural history, botanical, research, and national libraries working together to digitize the natural history literature held in their collections and make it freely available for open access as part of a global “biodiversity community.”
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