Special Collections

Francis Willughby Lectures

Places are limited so please book in advance online or with the Box Office on 0115 846 7777

A BIRD’S EGG: THE MOST PERFECT THING
Thursday 20 October 6–7pm
Tim Birkhead, FRS, Professor of Behavioural Ecology, Sheffield University, is the editor of Virtuoso by Nature: The Scientific Worlds of Francis Willughby FRS (1635–1672) (2016), and has collaborated on this exhibition. Birds’ eggs are beautiful, and their design is a testament to the power of natural selection. In the words of one nineteenth-century ornithologist, a bird’s egg is ‘the most perfect thing’. This is the story of the biology of birds’ eggs, but also the story of those that have studied and collected eggs, including the naturalist Francis Willughby.

INSECTS: CLOSE UP AND PERSONAL
Thursday 17 November 6–7pm

Willughby’s work on insects – which were his particular interest – depended on his observation of the appearance and behaviour of specimens that he collected. Robert Hooke’s Micrographia (1665) showed his contemporaries how the microscope could reveal the complexity of an insect, but the revelations of the electron microscope lay far in the future. Tom Hartman demonstrates how this technology has transformed scientific understanding of the insect world, drawing on his work in the University of Nottingham’s School of Life Sciences and on its Zoology collection.