The museum was founded in 1860 as the centre for scientific study at the University of Oxford. Housed in a stunning example of neo-Gothic architecture, the Museum’s growing collections underpin a broad programme of natural environment research, teaching and public engagement. Among its most famous features are the Oxfordshire dinosaurs, the Dodo, and the swifts in the Museum tower. The collection of 100 century-old specimens recently reopened to the public after a great restoration.
A 4.56m long sperm whale jaw is one of the largest ever-found on record. It dates to 1840, before the industrial whaling technique was invented. After whaling started all the bigger whales disappeared, so animals like this are every time smaller.
A unique specimen is the actual head of a dodo with its skin intact. There are even a few spindly feathers!
Dodos were an inspiration for Alice in Wonderland!
The museum’s dinosaur exhibit includes “Stan”, a 65 million year old Tyrannosaurus rex, and duck-billed dinosaur Edmontosaurus, both cast from skeletons found in modern-day South Dakota, USA. Since these are plaster casts of the originals, they were put standing on their back legs. It’s since been discovered that they walk on all fours.
The moa is an extinct flightless bird similar to the ostrich. The animal extinguished after the Maori colonised New Zealand in the 13th Century and began to hunt them. It is about 2.5m tall, but they’ve been recorded up to 3m! They were probably a very meaty and tasty pray for the locals!