Colour & Camouflage

A rainbow of rocks, minerals, mammals, birds and butterflies, vibrant displays and the subtlety of camouflage. From humble British specimens to South American mimic-patterned moths.

Colours in the natural world can be a warning sign or an attraction, a way of standing out or of hiding.

Our large showcase is arranged in rainbow-colour order, from red-brown through orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo to black. The smaller case has birds, moths and butterflies with mimic and camouflage patterns, as well as white – mostly camouflaged – items from the natural world.

Hammond bird collection

Most of the birds you can see come from a collection bequeathed to the museum in 1903 by William Oxenden Hammond (1817-1903). The Hammonds were local landowners and bankers. William Oxenden, like his father William Osmund (1790-1863), collected British birds and gave over 500 of their specimens to the museum. Some of William senior’s birds are very early and rare specimens.

Items on display

Brown Trout

brown trout

Caught by Mr Charles Bing in the River Stour on the 27th May 1926.

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference 1999.187.2.

Butterfly with wood mimicry

Butterfly with wood mimicry

Butterflies often use mimicry-a kind of camouflage to hide from predators.

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference 2000.19.33

Oakstone

oakstone

Large polished, brown mass showing pseudo-stalactitic concentric growth patterns.

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference 2006.216

Chestnut jacana

Chestnut jacana

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference E21.

Muskrat

This smaller cousin of the beaver comes from wetlands in North America.

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference 1999.227

Bat

Sturnira lilium from Ecuador.

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference 1999.252

Ferruginous Duck

Purchased by Mr W.O. Hammond in 1835.

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference 283H.

Stoat

Caught by a game keeper in Dornoch, Scotland.

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference 1990.69.

Red fox

red fox

The red fox was found dead by a roadside and brought to the museum some years ago. Foxes are one of relatively few truly native British mammals. They are now a common sight in urban areas throughout Britain.

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference 1999.245

Red squirrels

Red squirrels

Unlike immigrant grey squirrels, red squirrels are now only seen in a few isolated places in Britain. They have been out-competed by grey squirrels, which are more successful in deciduous forests. Red squirrels are now mainly limited to coniferous forests in the Scottish highlands.

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference 1999.221.2

Red Crested Cardinal

Red Crested Cardinal

Native to much of South America and introduced to Hawaii. Its scientific name is Paroaria coronate.

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference 505 H

Stilbite

Stilbite

A hydrated sodium calcium aluminium silicate.

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference D4.B.504

Rose Quartz

Rose Quartz

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference D4.A.246

Ruff

Ruff

The handsome male of this species of brown-flecked wading bird. The female does not have the distinctive frill.

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference 396H

Red Ochre

Red Ochre

A rock formed by erosion of iron-rich deposits. It has been used since ancient times to the present day, ground up, to make red paint and is sometimes burnt to enhance the red colour.

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference Q.O.26

Potstone

Potstone

This stone got its name because its red inclusions look like fragments of broken terracotta pots.

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference K 347

Red Agate

Agates are mainly the same composition as quartz. Like the different coloured varieties of quartz, such as amethyst and citrine, agates inherit their colours from the variations in composition of trace elements in the fluids that deposited the mineral layers. They are commonly cut and polished for souvenirs or ornaments.

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference 2009.277

Red Agate ornament

Red Agate ornament

Agates are mainly the same composition as quartz. Like the different coloured varieties of quartz, such as amethyst and citrine, agates inherit their colours from the variations in composition of trace elements in the fluids that deposited the mineral layers. They are commonly cut and polished for souvenirs or ornaments.

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference 2009.373

Red Agate seals

Red Agate seals

Agates are mainly the same composition as quartz. Like the different coloured varieties of quartz, such as amethyst and citrine, agates inherit their colours from the variations in composition of trace elements in the fluids that deposited the mineral layers. They are commonly cut and polished for souvenirs or ornaments.

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference 2010.2.148

Potato Stone with red agate

Potato Stone with red agate

Red crystals on a geode-type nodule.

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference 2004.549

Jasper

Jasper

This smooth red pebble is a variety of quartz.

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference 2009.373.

Serpentine

serpentine

Serpentine is a silicate. This cut and polished square has an old museum label describing it as 'Rare Williamsite, Russia'. Williamsite is a variety of serpentine that is usually green.

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference 2009.529

Red organ pipe coral

Red organ pipe coral

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference 2011.10

Carnelian

carnelian

A form of agate, carnelian has the same bulk composition as quartz, with the orange-reddish-brown colour coming from trace amounts of iron oxide.

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference 2009.400

Amber

amber

Amber is fossilized tree sap. Its ability to trap and perfectly preserve insects was made famous by the film Jurassic Park, where dinosaurs were cloned using DNA from the blood of mosquitoes trapped in amber.

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference 2008.32, 35, 37, 39, 41

Tiger’s eye

Tiger's eye

A vibrantly coloured variety of quartz named after its resemblance to the slit eye of a cat. It is formed when blue asbestos (crocidolite) is replaced by silicon dioxide and it gets its colour from oxidation of iron minerals. This sample comes from South Africa.

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference 2011.8

Golden Oriole

Golden Oriole

The golden oriole is a rare visitor to Kent during the spring and summer months. During the 19th century it was a regular summer visitor. The females are slightly different from the males, with spotted breast feathers. They eat insects and like to inhabit poplar plantations.

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference 530H

Weaver bird

Weaver bird

This is a Lesser masked weaver bird, probably female.

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference B84.

Yellow butterflies and moths

Yellow butterflies and moths

They include the Swallowtail butterfly, Brimstone moth, Swallow-tailed moth, Speckled yellow, Cream-spot tiger, Common yellow underwing, Death’s-head hawk moth, Oak eggar, Apricot sulphur, Cloudless sulphur and Orange-barred sulphur. These sulphur butterflies are from Central America and southern North America.

Sulphur

Sulphur

Sulphur is a poisonous but essential mineral. It smells like rotten eggs. It occurs in abundance around volcanoes and has many uses in fertilisers, fumigants, fungicides and pesticides, and in the manufacture of matches, fireworks and other explosives. Yellow colour in nature often signifies poison.

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference D1.B.36.

Gold from the Klondyke

Gold from Klondyke

Gold is one of the most sought-after metals, not only for its beauty but also for its usefulness in the production of many things, including computers. In fact there is a very small amount of gold in your mobile phone! Gold is chemically very inert, so does not corrode like other metals and remains in the same state for countless millennia. There are examples of gold jewellery nearby in the Explorers and Collectors room.

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference 1979.34.2

Fools’ gold – Pyrite

The iron sulphide Pyrite has often been mistaken for gold. It is a brassy yellow-coloured metal and occurs in similar contexts to gold.

Yellow antique

yellow antique

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference 2009.551.

Chalcopyrite

Chalcopyrite

Chalcopyrite is the principal ore of copper. Like Pyrite it has often been mistaken for gold. It is a brassy yellow-coloured metal and occurs in similar contexts to gold.

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference QR 41

Fluorite

Fluorite

Fluorite occurs in a range of different colours. This example is pale yellow.

Yellow land snail

Yellow land snail

Like other molluscs, the majority of land snails are hermaphrodites, having both male and female sex organs. In many parts of the world such snails are farmed as food.

Wulfenite

Wulfenite

Wulfenite is a source of molybdenum, a strong material with a high temperature resistance making it useful in space exploration and for making weapons.

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference D4.B.531

Aragonite

Aragonite

Aragonite is one of the two common forms of calcium carbonate, forming naturally in almost all mollusc shells.

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference 2003.370.

Malachite

Malachite

A secondary mineral of copper, malachite was used as a green pigment by artists.

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference 2003.373.

Greensand ammonite

Greensand Ammonite

This ammonite comes from the Lower Greensand, a Cretaceous age rock. The green in greensand comes from the mineral glauconite.

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference 2001.204

Greenfinch

Greenfinch

Often seen around wooded areas and hedgerows.

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference 115H(?)

Woodpecker

Woodpecker

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference (exKCC).

Toucan

Toucan

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference (nn).

Cock of the rock

Cock of the rock

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference (nn).

Female Quetzal

Female Quetzal

Vivid green and an orangey-yellow. The Male quetzal can be seen displaying to the female above.

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference 1999.181

Australian pygmy goose

australian pygmy goose

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference 261BH.

Spotted green gastropod of the genus Nerita

Spotted green gastropod of the genus Nerita

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference 2010.48.86

Green butterflies

Green butterflies

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference (nn)

Jadeite

Jadeite

An attractive mineral often used for carving decorative objects. Look out for the jade adze in the Explorers and Collectors room.

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference 2011.9.

Moss agate

moss agate

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference 2009.502.

Green fluorite

Green fluorite

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference 2002.150.

Olivine

Olivine

Green like an olive, olivine comes from deep within the earth’s crust and is normally brought to the surface by volcanoes.

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference D4.B403-4.

Olive green obsidian

Olive green obsidian

Obsidian is formed from rapidly cooled volcanic lavas with high silica, thrust to the earth’s surface in the latter stages of a volcanic eruption.

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference 2004.285.

Freshwater mussels

Freshwater mussels

These have been exploited for pearls in the past.

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference 1982 6.

Crysophase

Crysophase

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference N.33.

Pyromorphite

Pyromorphite

Bright green crystals of a lead ore mineral that sometimes occurs in sufficient quantity to be mined.

Blue Fossil Sharks Teeth from Beltinge Herne Bay

Blue Fossil Sharks Teeth from Beltinge, Herne Bay

Fossil shark’s teeth come in a variety of colours due to the different mineral compositions of the rocks they are found in. Look for the black, white and brown ones in the rest of this display.

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference 2002.168.

Kingfisher

Kingfisher

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference 203H.

Blue John

blue john

Takes its name from the French for this rock, Bleu jaune (blue yellow), the usual colours of this fluorite.

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference 1983.9.34.

Breccia

Breccia

Cut and polished breccia with translucent blue clasts.

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference 2009.325.

Abalone shell

Albalone shell

Abalone has a beautiful iridescence when polished, so has been used by people for many decorative purposes, including fish hooks you can see in the Heroes and Villains showcase in the Explorers and Collectors room.

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference L639.

Blue and yellow macaw

Blue and yellow macaw

One of a variety of different species of macaw, each of which has a different variety of colourful feathers. This one was a much-loved pet for 40 years and was given to the museum by its Herne Bay owner after it died.

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference 1999.83.

Blue rollers

Blue rollers

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference 1984.9.

Blue Tit

A common garden visitor that will often choose to dwell in an artificial nesting box.

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference 70H

Blue butterflies collection of 6 butterflies

Blue butterflies collection of 6 butterflies

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference (nn)

Carborundum

Carborundum

An artificially produced mineral with a brilliant shiny blue sheen.

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference D23.

Azurite

Azurite

Used as a pigment by artists.

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference 2003.518.

Lapis Lazuli

Lapis Lazuli

This rare dark blue mineral is ground up to form the artist’s pigment ultramarine.

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference 2008.131/Q.A.8.

Blue opal

Blue opal

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference (nn)

Amethyst

amethyst

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference D4.A.243.

Fluorite

fluorite

Glows purple under ultraviolet light.

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference 2006.62.

Black Quartz crystals

Black Quartz crystals

Quartz comes in virtually all the colours of the rainbow, depending on where it was formed and therefore the different trace elements it may contain. Black varieties are formed in volcanoes.

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference N6.

Large Blue Pinna shells

Large Blue Pinna

The Pinna family includes some of the largest shells known. They live attached to rocks with their silky strong byssus threads.

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference L884.

Stalactitic Limonite

Stalactitic Limonite

An iron hydroxide - it contains oxygen and water.

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference Q.0.10

Alethopterys

Alethopterys

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference 2000.435.

Calamites suckowi

Calamites suckowi-

A horsetail much like those found alive today but much bigger.

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference 2000.452

Lobatopteris

Lobatopteris

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference 2003.401

Fossil fern leaves

Fossil fern leaves

From the old Chislet colliery near Canterbury.

Hornblende

hornblende

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference D4.B.423 hornblende.

Tourmaline

Tourmaline

Black rod-like crystals in off-white feldspar.

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference D4.B521.

Black Fossil Sharks Teeth

Black Fossil Sharks Teeth

From the Beltinge fish bed near Herne Bay, Palaeocene in age. Around 55 million years old.

Black Chough

Black Chough

This member of the crow family has a mastery of flight, often performing wonderful aerial displays of diving and swooping.

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference 174H

Obsidian

Obsidian

Obsidian is formed from rapidly cooled volcanic lavas with high silica, thrust to the earth’s surface in the latter stages of a volcanic eruption. Because it has no crystal structure it can be break into very sharp pieces so is used to make surgical blades.

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference 5676

Great northern diver

Great northern diver

This large bird is normally a winter visitor to our shores and breeds in Iceland.

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference 482H.

Black hammer shell

Black hammer shell

From the East Indies

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference L864

Common Scoter

Common Scoter

From Rye in East Sussex.

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference 295H

Shell The black and white Muricanthus

Shell The black and white Muricanthus

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference (nn)

Augite

Augite

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference 2006.3.

Cut and polished stone squares

Cut and polished stone squares

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference 2009.532.

Fossil Fish

Fossil Fish

Palaeoniscus frieslebeni from the Permian age copper shales of Eisleben, Germany.

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference A180

Rook with red coat

Rook with red coat

Boys playing in the early 1900s put a red coat on this rook. When it flew back to its flock they rejected him and made such a noise that the keeper came out and shot the bird.

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference 179H.

Badger

Badger

Badgers are unfussy animals that will eat almost anything. They are also quite voracious predators and will often take live prey.

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference 1992.47.

Agate

Agate

Cut and polished into an oval shape.

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference 2009.385, 392

Smew

Smew, male and female

The smew shows an example of sexual dimporhism: males and females are different colours.

Male - Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference 1995.105

Female - Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference 305H

Chalk sea Urchin Fossil

Chalk Sea Urchin Fossil

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference 1986.4.101

Analcite

Analcite

A silicate mineral from Bohemia.

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference D4.B.500

Baryte

Baryte

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference 2004.242

Opal

Opal

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference 2009.298

White Fossil Shark Tooth from an old sand quarry in Canterbury

White Fossil Shark Tooth from an old sand quarry in Canterbury

From the Thanet sand formation. Over 50 million years old.

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference 9930.1

Eocene shells

Eocene shells

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference (nn)

Clavilithes macrospira

Clavilithes macrospira

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference 2003.247

Athleta sp.

Athleta sp.

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference A547.

Agate

Agate

White and brown banded agate with clear crystalline quartz in the centre.

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference 2009.279

Agate

Cut and polished into an oval shape.

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference 2009.385, 392.

White Marble cube

White Marble cube

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference 2010.2.108.

Coral

Coral

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference 10152.

Mushroom Coral

Mushroom Coral

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference (nn).

Gypsum

Gypsum

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference K1286.

Spoonbill

Spoonbill

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference 258H.

Ivory Gull

Ivory Gull

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference 442H.

Owl butterfly

Owl butterfly

Commonly known as the Brazilian Little Owl, this South American butterfly is found from Guatemala to northern Argentina. Its eye-like markings mimic larger animals and deceive predators, or draw attention away from vulnerable body parts

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference 2000.19.13

Kittiwake and chick

Kittiwake and chick

Animals, particularly birds often change colour during their development into adults. The Kittiwake chick finds its mottled early plumage particularly useful as camouflage.

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference 443H and 445H.

Thysania agrippina

Thysania agrippina

A large species of Moth from Central and South America. At 12 inches it has the largest wingspan of all butterflies and moths.

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference 2000.19.12.

Tengmalm's owl

Eats mainly voles and other small mammals.

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference 219H.

Grey leaves

2004
Gary Hume (born 1962)

Screen print in four colours with one glaze.

Screen-printing lends itself to bold, simple shapes and colours. Hume uses similar simplified areas of colour and line in his painting. Grey leaves is one of several screen prints he has created in recent years.

Teasels

1950s-60s
Godfrey Burdett Money-Coutts (1905-79)Oil on canvas

Transferred from Tower House, Canterbury, 1995. Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference 1995.101.2

'All things wise and wonderful'

1990
Cherryl Fountain (1905-79)

Watercolour
Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference 1990.72.