Amgueddfa Blog: Gwirfoddoli

How to Name Nature

My Professional Training Year placement in the Natural Sciences Department at National Museum Cardiff has been going for a few months now and we are making great progress! We have gotten to the stage where it is time to name the new species of shovel head worm (Magelonidae) that we have spent many months describing and drawing. Shovel head worms are a type of marine bristle worm.

So, the big question is, how exactly do scientists name the new species they discover? 

All species are named using a system called binomial nomenclature, also known as the two-term naming system. This system is primarily credited to Carl Linnaeus in 1753 but there is evidence suggesting the system was used as early as 1622 by Gaspard Bauhin. You will know them as the Latin names for organisms or scientific names. These names are firstly formed of a generic name, identifying the genus the species belongs to and a specific name, identifying the species. For example, the binomial name for humans is Homo sapiensHomo is the genus, which also includes our ancestors like the Neanderthals (Homo neanderthalensis) but if you want to specifically refer to modern humans you add the species name, sapiens. So, Homo sapiens is what you get.

Today, binomial nomenclature is primarily governed by two internationally agreed code of rules, the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN) and the International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants (ICNafp). Across the two codes the rules are generally the same but with slight differences. As my work focuses on naming animals, I will focus on the rules set out by the ICZN.

The first step in naming a new species is figuring out exactly what to name it after. There are generally 3 main ways to pick a name.

Firstly, you can pick a physical trait of the animal. This trait usually makes it stand out from the other species in its genus. This is my preferred method of naming because it gives people an impression of what it is like just by its name. For example, European robins are given the binomial name Erithacus rubecula and rubecula is derived from the Latin ruber, meaning red which emphasises the robin’s iconic red breast.

An example of a shovel head worm with a name like this is Magelona cepiceps, translating from the Latin cepa for onion and ceps referring to the head. This relates to the shape of the ‘head’ (prostomium) of the worm resembling an onion!

Secondly, you could name the new species after the place it was discovered. It’s not as descriptive as naming the animal after a physical feature but tells you where you may find it. The binomial name for the Canada Goose is Branta canadensis, displaying that although the bird is a common sight in many places thanks to its introduction, it is originally from Canada.

A shovel head worm with a regional scientific name is Magelona mahensis, indicating that it is from the island of Mahé in the Seychelles.

 

 

 

 

Lastly, you can name it after someone. Of course, a person’s first instinct might be to try and name a species after themselves. The ICZN doesn’t have a rule explicitly against this but it is seen as a sign of vanity. But perhaps if you name enough species in your field, eventually someone may name a species after you. This is my least favourite way to name species because it may not tell you anything about the species at all, but it is nice to give honour to those that are important to us or those who have put in a lot of work in the field. For example, in honour of Sir David Attenborough’s 90th birthday a dragonfly was named after him, taking the name Acisoma attenboroughi. Attenborough has inspired so many scientists that he has around 34 species named after him currently. There is a shovel head worm named Magelona johnstoni which is named after Dr George Johnston, one of the first scientists to describe shovel head worms.

While the names can be taken from words in any language they must be spelt out in the Roman alphabet, ensuring they can be universally read. Many binomial names are formed of words from ancient Greek but have been Latinised. Typically, if you have selected a physical feature it is translated into Greek or Latin. There are several books specifically written for helping scientists translate and create new species names.

To Latinise the name, you have selected you have to make sure it follows the rules of Latin grammar. This is where it gets a little complicated as you have to start considering the genus name of the species. Latin has masculine, feminine and neutral words, you can tell this by how the word ends. The gender of the genus name will affect the ending and gender of your species name.

And with that information you are just about ready to name your species!

It might seem like a lot of things to consider when you are naming a new species, believe me I never expected to know this much about Latin grammar! But these rules are incredibly important to ensure we can orderly name and keep track of each of the fascinating organisms that are discovered and allows everyone to universally understand which animals scientists are talking about. Especially when you consider that there are over 12,000 known marine bristleworms globally and that number is increasing.

Once all of the drawings and descriptions are complete, the scientific paper goes through a peer-reviewed process where other experts in the field consider your decision to describe and name the new species. If the reviewers agree the species is formally described and those that were involved are now the species authorities. In scientific journals the species name will be written down followed by the names of those who described it and the year it was described. So, while you might not name a species after yourself, whenever the species is mentioned you will get recognition for the work you have done.

So, what will our new species be called?........Well, you’ll have to stay tuned to find out........

Gwnaeth adroddiad State of Caring 2019 Gofalwyr Cymru amcangyfrif fod 400,000 o ofalwyr yng Nghymru y llynedd. Roedd Cyfrifiad 2011 yn gosod y ffigwr llawn fel 370,000 neu 12% o’r boblogaeth, gyda 30,000 o’r gofalwyr hynny o dan 25 oed a nodwyd fod gan Gymru y gyfradd uchaf o ofalwyr o dan 18 oed yn y DU. Mae’r ffigurau hyn i gyd yn cyfeirio at ofalwyr di-dâl, sy’n cefnogi oedolyn neu blentyn gydag anabledd, salwch corfforol neu feddyliol, neu sydd yn cael eu heffeithio drwy gamddefnyddio sylweddau. Nid yw’n cynnwys y rheiny sy’n gweithio mewn swyddi gofal am dâl.

Amcangyfrifir y bydd y rhan fwyaf ohonom, tri allan o bump, yn dod yn ofalwr ar ryw bwynt yn ystod ein bywydau.

Wrth ystyried y rhifau anferthol hyn a’r ffaith fod y rhan fwyaf ohonom eisoes naill ai’n cael ein heffeithio, neu’n mynd i gael ein heffeithio, pam nad oes mwy o sôn am ofalwyr? Un rheswm efallai yw bod gofalwyr yn rhy brysur yn gofalu. Rwyf innau wedi bod yn ofalwr, a chyn ymuno ag Amgueddfa Cymru treuliais 30 mlynedd yn gweithio mewn gwasanaethau gofal iechyd a chymdeithasol, ac yn ystod yr adeg honno rwy’n amcangyfrif fy mod wedi gweithio gydag ychydig filoedd o ofalwyr. Mae fy mhrofiad a’m hymchwil helaeth wedi dangos fod nifer o ofalwyr yn profi unigrwydd ac ynysu cymdeithasol, yn dioddef o iechyd meddyliol neu gorfforol gwael eu hunain, a phwysau ariannol, o ganlyniad i’w rôl fel gofalwyr. 

Felly beth mae hyn yn ei olygu i Amgueddfa Cymru? Un o’r amcanion ar gyfer ein strategaeth 10 mlynedd, a gaiff ei chyhoeddi yng Ngwanwyn 2021, yw ein bod yn berthnasol i bawb ac ar gael i bawb; un arall yw ein bod yn canolbwyntio ar iechyd a lles i bawb. Mae gan ein rhaglen ymgysylltu gymunedol ystod eang iawn o ffyrdd i bobl sydd ag anghenion gofal (yn sgil iechyd, anabledd neu amgylchiadau eraill) fod yn rhan o weithgareddau’r amgueddfa fel ymwelydd neu drwy ein rhaglenni gwirfoddoli ac addysg. Croesawn ofalwyr drwy gyfrwng y mentrau hyn ac mae nifer o ofalwyr sydd wedi cymryd rhan, ond nid oes gennym eto lawer iawn o adnoddau sydd wedi’u cynllunio o gwmpas anghenion gofalwyr. 

Wrth edrych ymlaen at flwyddyn nesaf, mae’r Tîm Gwirfoddoli yn awyddus i ddarparu cyfleoedd sydd wedi’u cynllunio’n benodol ar gyfer gofalwyr. Gall hyn gynnwys gwirfoddolwyr sy’n gallu cefnogi gofalwyr wrth ymweld â’n hamgueddfeydd, neu, gall olygu cynllunio cyfleoedd gwirfoddoli i ofalwyr sy’n gweithio o amgylch gofynion gofalu. Ar hyn o bryd rydym yn dychmygu cymysgedd o opsiynau o ran presenoldeb – rhai cyfleoedd i ofalwyr fynychu neu ymuno â rhywbeth ar eu liwt eu hunain, eraill lle y gall gofalwyr wneud hynny gyda’r person y maen nhw’n gofalu amdanynt. 

Y darlun arferol o ofalwr yw rhywun hŷn, yn gofalu naill ai am riant oedrannus neu bartner. Mae sawl gofalwr yn gweddu’r disgrifiad hwnnw, ond mae yna hefyd fwy o bobl ifanc a phlant yn gofalu nag y mae’r rhan fwyaf o bobl yn ymwybodol ohono, ac mae gofynion gofalu mewn perygl o gael effaith andwyol ar eu haddysg, eu datblygiad ac ansawdd eu bywyd yn gyffredinol. Rydym felly yn cynllunio i gynnwys rhai cyfleoedd sydd wedi’u hanelu’n benodol at ofalwyr ifanc.   

Mae pobl o bob cymuned yn wynebu cyfrifoldebau gofal, a allai mewn rhai achosion fod yn fwy heriol yn sgil gwahaniaethu systemig ac anfantais. O’m profiad innau yn gofalu am fy mam-gu Iraci, gwelais fod y gwasanaethau cymorth oedd ar gael â bwriad gwirioneddol i groesawu pawb, ond bod bron pob un ohonynt wedi eu trefnu o amgylch arferion, ffyrdd o fyw, a phrofiadau bywyd poblogaeth Gwyn Prydeinig. Nid oedd y bwyd a’r gweithgareddau a gynigiwyd, a’r pynciau a drafodwyd (er enghraifft mewn therapi Atgof), yn berthnasol nac yn cynnig cysur iddi hi mewn unrhyw ffordd. Nid wyf yn awgrymu fod hyn yn rhoi dealltwriaeth i mi o brofiad rhywun arall, nid ydyw, ond mae yn rhoi dealltwriaeth i mi o gyfyngderau gweithredu un dull yn unig. 

Felly rydym yn ymwybodol y bydd angen i ni weithredu mewn modd amrywiol a gofalus, a dyma lle hoffem ofyn am eich cymorth. Rydym wedi llunio arolwg sy’n amlinellu rhai o’n syniadau hyd yma, ond hoffem hefyd glywed oddi wrthoch chi os ydych chi’n ofalwr neu wedi bod yn ofalwr yn y gorffennol. Os nad ydych yn ofalwr, byddem yn ddiolchgar pe baech yn medru ein helpu drwy rannu hwn gyda gofalwyr yr ydych yn eu hadnabod. 

Mae’r arolwg yn lansio ar Ddiwrnod Hawliau Gofalwyr ar 26 Tachwedd, ac ar yr un diwrnod rydym yn trefnu trafodaeth fyw ar-lein (gyda thocyn digwyddiad am ddim i bob gofalwr sy’n ymuno â ni). Gallwch ddod o hyd i fanylion ynglŷn â sut i gymryd rhan, a hefyd gweld y sesiynau ‘blasu’ ar yr un diwrnod, drwy gyfrwng tudalen Gwirfoddoli ar ein gwefan: https://amgueddfa.cymru/cymrydrhan/gofalwyr

How a Distanced Professional Training Year Can Still Be Enjoyable and Successful

As an undergraduate, studying biosciences at Cardiff University, I am able to undertake a placement training year. Taxonomy, the study of naming, defining, and classifying living things, has always interested me and the opportunity to see behind the scenes of the museum was a chance I did not want to lose. So, when the time came to start applying for placements, the Natural Sciences Department at National Museum Cardiff was my first choice. When I had my first tour around the museum, I knew I had made the right choice to apply to carry out my placement there. It really was the ‘kid in the candy shop’ type of feeling, except the sweets were preserved scientific specimens. If given the time I could spend days looking over every item in the collection and marvelling at them all. 

Of course, the plans that were set out for my year studying with the museum were made last year and, with the Covid-19 pandemic this has meant that plans had to change! However, everyone has adapted really well and thankfully, a large amount of the work I am doing can be done from home or in zoom meetings when things need to be discussed.

Currently, my work focuses on writing a scientific paper that will be centered on describing and naming a new species of shovel head worm (Magelonidae) from North America. Shovel head worms are a type of marine bristle worm and as the name describes, are found in the sea. They are related to earth worms and leeches. So far, my work has involved researching background information and writing the introduction for the paper. This  is very helpful for my own knowledge because when I applied for the placement I didn’t have the slightest clue about what a shovel head worm was but now I can confidently understand what people mean when they talk about chaetigers or lateral pouches!

Part of the research needed for the paper also includes looking closely at species found in the same area as the new species, or at species that are closely related in order to determine that our species is actually new.

Photos for the paper were taken by attaching a camera to a microscope and using special imaging stacking software which takes several shots at different focus distances and combines them into a fully focused image. While ideally, I would have taken these images myself, I am unable to due to covid restrictions, so my training year supervisor, Katie Mortimer-Jones took them.

Then I cleaned up the backgrounds and made them into the plates ready for publication. I am very fortunate that I already have experience in using applications similar to photoshop for art and a graphics tablet so it wasn’t too difficult for me to adjust what I already had in order to make these plates. Hopefully soon, I will be able to take these images for myself.

My very first publication in a scientific journal doesn’t seem that far away and I still have much more time in my placement which makes me very excited to see what the future holds. Of course, none of this would be possible without the wonderful, friendly and helpful museum staff who I have to express my sincere thanks to for allowing me to have this fantastic opportunity to work here, especially my supervisor, Katie Mortimer-Jones.

Yn 2016 cefais alwad ffôn gan Nichola Thomas. Roedd ganddi fab, Rhys, a fyddai wrth ei fodd yn gwirfoddoli yn yr amgueddfa. Roedd yn ddwy ar bymtheg ac yn y coleg yn rhan-amser ac yn awtistig.

Fe benderfynon ni gwrdd â Rhys a Nichola i ddarganfod beth oedd ei ddiddordebau a sut y gallai helpu yn yr amgueddfa.

Roedd Rhys yn eithaf swil ar y dechrau ac ni ddywedodd lawer, ond cymerodd bopeth i mewn. Fe wnaethon ni gytuno ar gynllun fyddai’n gofyn iddo ddod am ddwy awr bob dydd Mercher o unarddeg o'r gloch tan un. Byddai Rhys yn fy helpu ar y bwrdd ‘trin gwrthrych’ a byddem yn annog ymwelwyr i ddal gwrthrychau o’r 1950au, 60au a’r 70au a siarad am eu hatgofion neu ddim ond dysgu am y gwrthrychau. Pethau fel ‘Green Shield Stamps’, cwponau sigaréts, hen eitemau trydanol a hen offer.

Nawr, nid oedd gan y mwyafrif o staff yr amgueddfa fawr o ddealltwriaeth o awtistiaeth, os o gwbl. Mae gan un ddynes, Suzanne, fab awtistig a gallai egluro pethau fel sut i gyfathrebu’n effeithiol â Rhys. Roeddem i gyd yn teimlo y dylem fod yn fwy gwybodus, felly cynigiwyd hyfforddiant ‘ymwybyddiaeth awtistiaeth’ i’r holl staff. Rwy'n credu bod pawb wedi cofrestru. Agorodd yr hyfforddiant ein llygaid i fyd awtistiaeth. Un pwynt enfawr a ddaeth allan o’r hyfforddiant oedd bod gan lawer o sefydliadau le ‘ymlacio’. Mae hyn ar gyfer unrhyw un sy'n teimlo'n bryderus neu dan straen neu sydd angen dianc o'r prysurdeb am dipyn. Fe wnaethon ni benderfynu bod angen rhywbeth fel hyn arnom yn yr amgueddfa.

Rhys Thomas, gwirfoddolwr Amgueddfa Genedlaethol y Glannau cerbyd trydan o gasgliad yr amgueddfa.

Erbyn hyn roedd Rhys wir wedi dechrau mwynhau ei amser yn y ‘gwaith’. Sylwodd pawb ar weddnewidiad go iawn wrth iddo ddod yn fwy allblyg a llai swil a dechrau sgyrsiau gyda dieithriaid llwyr yn rheolaidd. Gofynnom i Rhys ein helpu gyda dyluniad yr Ystafell Ymlacio. Roedd e’n wych - gan wneud argymhellion pwysig a hefyd bod yn llefarydd ar ein rhan am yr hyn yr oeddem yn ceisio'i gyflawni. Gwnaeth hyd yn oed nifer o ymddangosiadau ar sioe radio Wynne Evans. Daeth Rhys yn gymaint o ffefryn ar y sioe nes iddo wahodd Wynne i ddod i agor ein Hystafell Ymlacio yn swyddogol.

Erbyn hyn, mae Rhys yn mynychu coleg llawn amser, felly dim ond yn ystod y gwyliau y gall wirfoddoli yn yr amgueddfa. Rydyn ni bob amser wrth ein bodd yn ei weld ac mae wir yn ychwanegu rhywbeth arbennig at ein tîm. Mae ein Hystafell Ymlacio yn llwyddiant ysgubol ac yn cael ei defnyddio’n ddyddiol.

 

 

Today is National Autusm Day, a chance to spread awareness and increase acceptance of Autism. Here at Amgueddfa Cymru National Museums of Wales, we believe passionately in making our museums and galleries accessible to everyone, and more than that to creating welcoming, comfortable spaces for all. To that end, a couple of years ago, with the support of autistic volunteers and family members, the National Waterfront Museum created a 'chill-out-room', and began offering 'quiet hours' each month. Here, Ian Smith Senior Curator of Modern & Contemporary Industry at the Waterfront Museum explains how this special space came about.

“In October 2016 we had a staff training day in ‘Autism Awareness’. It opened our eyes to how they see the world and how we can support their needs. It showed us how even the simplest of environmental changes can affect a person with autism. Things like light and sound levels, the colour of walls and floors. In fact the general layout of a space which might be deliberately made stimulating and flashy might cause many autistic people to retreat within themselves.

It was around this time that we welcomed a new volunteer at the museum. Rhys, 17, has autism. His mother contacted us and asked if he could volunteer with us to help his confidence when meeting people and in a real work environment. Rhys helps to run an object handling session, usually with another volunteer or a member of staff, and he has taken to it really well. We have all noticed that he’s become more outgoing and will now hold conversations with total strangers.

With the growing awareness of autism the Museum decided to create an Autism Champion. Our staff member Suzanne, who has an autistic son, readily agreed to take up the challenge. She now attends meetings with our sister museums where issues and solutions around autism are discussed.

During our training session we discovered that some organisations have created ‘chill-out’ rooms. These are for anyone who is feeling stressed or disturbed to go to and relax and gather themselves together. These rooms are especially useful for autistic people. We put a small group together to look at creating a safe, quiet space somewhere in the Waterfront Museum. After considering options, we decided that a little used first aid room on the ground floor offered the best place.

Rhys came into his own. He offered us a number of suggestions on how we could change the space to make it autism friendly. These included making the light levels controllable and sound proofing the room so that gentle music or relaxing sounds could be played. Suzanne too came up with a number of ideas from her own experience of looking after her son. Additionally, a local special school, Pen-y-Bryn, with whom we had an established relationship also offered us their valuable expertise.

The room we’ve created is a very soothing space and we find it gets regular use by people with a range of needs, and is clearly much appreciated as shown by the comments in the visitor’s book:

“Fantastic resource! My daughter really needed this today – thank you!”

“Lovely place to get away from the hustle and bustle for a little one.”

“Lovely idea for people on the spectrum to come for quiet.”

“Really helped my son to have some time out.”

This has been a very big learning curve for most of us, but it has been made much easier by talking to people who have direct experience of autism. Their input as part of our team has been invaluable.”

The Museum is of course, closed right now, but for those of you interested, the times for our 'quiet hours' are posted on our events pages each month. We look forward to welcoming you all back in the coming months.