Brazil, The Great Amazon Adventure Starts, Uncategorized

Earning a privileged insight and an afternoon to say goodbye to the Amazon: Belem day 3 – The collections

Today I had to present a research seminar to the geneticists and biochemists at the museum, then George had to jump on a plane home after which Luis and I had been promised a glimpse of the collections. This promise gave me the adrenaline to overcome last night’s beer and find my voice. I have to say one of the most enjoyable things I have found when talking about my research here is that everyone is genuinely interested and provide enthusiastic and engaged questions even if the presentation is outside their field. The museum also seems like a vibrate and amazingly cross-disciplinary environment where everyone contributes.  After my talk I fell into conversation with a classical fish taxonomist, a guy that had sat through a talk on worms and wanted to tell me about the Al, Hg and Ni contaminated in areas of the Amazon – but to be honest I was happy talking about the incredible diversity of fish in the rivers, a subject that would have kept me interested over the whole of lunch !!

With George gone we were escorted by Helena to the archaeology collection – we started off seeing the pottery processing rooms and then we were asked to leave our cameras behind and enter the collection itself……. boy was I not prepared for what we found.  Pots that came up to my waist and were two-three foot wide, highly decorated funerary urns, intricate models….. What was in the room would have put many of the displays in the British Museum in the shade – easily as impressive as the Terracotta Warriors.  Now they explained that it was not on display to the public and we could not photograph as they were still elements of on-going research projects… I have had to search the internet to show you examples of what was there….but the room was 50M + long and stacked to the ceiling with this stuff……these web pics really don’t to it justice.

pottery3 Pottery1 Berial_urns








I was awed and privileged to see the collection …… it really represents hidden WORLD heritage treasure. We then visited the anthropology collection which again was amazing – from the most elaborate head dresses to the masks that I challenge anyone not to be frightened of.  Again an experience I will never forget and hope that someday everyone will be able to share.

But we wouldn’t be invertebrate biologist’s if we didn’t look at the collections of Amazonian invertebrate biodiversity here’s some some of the cases and cases of amazing organisms from the Amazon (click on the images if you want to see them bigger).
Marlucia and Marie ants Beas big_ants bettles1 beetle2 bettle3 bettle4 big_bettle5 big_bettle6 bettle7 bettle9 bettle10 Cricket1


















How about that then …. just quiet amazing.

Marlucia then took us on holiday…..honestly she allowed us a few hours to be tourists. We got taken down to the side of the Amazon, fed local shrimp stew, had ‘drive’ through ice cold coconut from the side of the road, saw where they unload exotic berries from the docks, the old town of Belem and finally a micro-brewery and ice cream parlour – what more could a man want…. Thank you Marlucia.



So I am sitting here writing the blog at 3am not wanting to leave today behind and knowing in an hour the taxis is coming to pick me up to start the 30 hour + trip home (Belem – Sao Paulo – Munich – Heathrow – Cardiff).

I am reflecting on what it means to be Brazilian ….. they are such a mix of all races …. all I can say is to be Brazilian is to have an amazing vibrant attitude to life, to be easy going whilst being engaged and overall to be friendly. These aspects may reflect the weather but I don’t think so, I think its because they are Brazilian.

There is one story that I have not told and that is of a lost civilisation which was around as long lived as the Egyptian Pharaohs and as tantalising as the Aztecs…..forget the history of the Amazon that you think you know….there’s a new book being revealed which will blow your mind…..maybe on the flight I will try and elaborate further…..