ScienceTalk

Seeking answers to nature's mysteries in museum's vault of life

Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum's collections have thrown up some surprises

Since the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum opened in 2015, its scientists have contributed to the discovery of more than 100 new species from Singapore and beyond, including Metapone murphyi (above), found in a preserved ant's nest by insect sci
Since the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum opened in 2015, its scientists have contributed to the discovery of more than 100 new species from Singapore and beyond, including Metapone murphyi (above), found in a preserved ant's nest by insect scientist Wendy Wang last year; a crab that crustacean curator Jose Mendoza named Harryplax severus after a Harry Potter character; and the Singapore swamp skink.PHOTOS: AIKI YAMADA, ST FILE, NICK BAKER/ECOLOGY ASIA
Since the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum opened in 2015, its scientists have contributed to the discovery of more than 100 new species from Singapore and beyond, including Metapone murphyi, found in a preserved ant's nest by insect scientist W
Since the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum opened in 2015, its scientists have contributed to the discovery of more than 100 new species from Singapore and beyond, including Metapone murphyi, found in a preserved ant's nest by insect scientist Wendy Wang last year; a crab that crustacean curator Jose Mendoza (above) named Harryplax severus after a Harry Potter character; and the Singapore swamp skink.PHOTOS: AIKI YAMADA, ST FILE, NICK BAKER/ECOLOGY ASIA
Since the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum opened in 2015, its scientists have contributed to the discovery of more than 100 new species from Singapore and beyond, including Metapone murphyi, found in a preserved ant's nest by insect scientist W
Since the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum opened in 2015, its scientists have contributed to the discovery of more than 100 new species from Singapore and beyond, including Metapone murphyi, found in a preserved ant's nest by insect scientist Wendy Wang last year; a crab that crustacean curator Jose Mendoza named Harryplax severus after a Harry Potter character; and the Singapore swamp skink (above).PHOTOS: AIKI YAMADA, ST FILE, NICK BAKER/ECOLOGY ASIA
Exhibits at the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum include those of a sperm whale skeleton (above) and a trio of dinosaur skeletons. The museum is planning a digital database and management system of its more than one million specimens and artefac
Exhibits at the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum include those of a sperm whale skeleton (above) and a trio of dinosaur skeletons. The museum is planning a digital database and management system of its more than one million specimens and artefacts for faster and more effective curation.ST FILE PHOTOS
Exhibits at the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum include those of a sperm whale skeleton and a trio of dinosaur skeletons (above). The museum is planning a digital database and management system of its more than one million specimens and artefac
Exhibits at the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum include those of a sperm whale skeleton and a trio of dinosaur skeletons (above). The museum is planning a digital database and management system of its more than one million specimens and artefacts for faster and more effective curation. ST FILE PHOTOS
Mr Marcus Chua (top) and Dr Darren Yeo say that for people to want to conserve biodiversity, they must first see and understand its value, and museums must reach out to them. Since the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum opened in 2015, its scienti
Mr Marcus Chua (top) and Dr Darren Yeo say that for people to want to conserve biodiversity, they must first see and understand its value, and museums must reach out to them. Since the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum opened in 2015, its scientists have contributed to the discovery of more than 100 new species from Singapore and beyond, including Metapone murphyi (left), found in a preserved ant's nest by insect scientist Wendy Wang last year; a crab that crustacean curator Jose Mendoza (middle) named Harryplax severus after a Harry Potter character; and the Singapore swamp skink.PHOTOS: AIKI YAMADA, ST FILE, NICK BAKER/ECOLOGY ASIA
Mr Marcus Chua (top) and Dr Darren Yeo say that for people to want to conserve biodiversity, they must first see and understand its value, and museums must reach out to them. Since the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum opened in 2015, its scienti
Mr Marcus Chua (top) and Dr Darren Yeo say that for people to want to conserve biodiversity, they must first see and understand its value, and museums must reach out to them. Since the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum opened in 2015, its scientists have contributed to the discovery of more than 100 new species from Singapore and beyond, including Metapone murphyi (left), found in a preserved ant's nest by insect scientist Wendy Wang last year; a crab that crustacean curator Jose Mendoza (middle) named Harryplax severus after a Harry Potter character; and the Singapore swamp skink.PHOTOS: AIKI YAMADA, ST FILE, NICK BAKER/ECOLOGY ASIA

In the study of natural history, poking an ant's nest can sometimes pay off.

It was what Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum insect scientist Wendy Wang was doing last year when she and her colleagues discovered in a preserved nest an ant species new to science.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 05, 2020, with the headline 'Seeking answers to nature's mysteries in museum's vault of life'. Print Edition | Subscribe