Top left: The Tasmanian tiger (Thylacinus cynocephalus), is more closely related to a Kangaroo than an actual Tiger and was, until recently, the largest carnivorous marsupial. By the time of European settlement, they had declined on the Australian mainland but remained on their island stronghold of Tasmania. There they could have remained in the sizable wilderness, were it not for continued persecution by humans and the destruction of their habitat. Hunted to extinction, the last one died in Hobart Zoo in 1936. The museum has a large collection of Thylacine material, much of it ‘collected’ in the 1860’s and 70’s. The Museum has an outstanding collection of skins, skeletons, organs in spirit and this material is of critical use to scientists today in our efforts to understand the Thylacine and its place in the tree of life, which ultimately leads to a greater understanding of the natural world and how best to care for it. Middle left: While preparing the Museum’s collections for their move to their new home in new, purpose built stores, we have made number of exciting discoveries. In packing this specimen of a dolphin skull we found that it was decorated with two pictures which have been scratched into its surface, a technique known as scrimshaw. Scrimshaw was traditionally carried out by whalers in the 19th century using the bones and teeth of sperm whales, the baleen of other whales and the tusks of walruses. Bottom left: These Partula land snails used to be common on many islands throughout Polynesia in the Pacific Ocean and have been much studied by evolutionary geneticists. However, in 1987 a species of carnivorous snail (Euglandina rosea) was introduced from America in order to control another introduced species, the African land snail (Lissachatina fulica), which had become a serious horticultural pest in Polynesia since the Second World War. Within a few years, the endemic Partula had been exterminated from many Polynesian islands and some species now only survive in captivity. Bottom right: The Museum’s bird collection, one of the most important in the country, includes 30,000 study skins and mounted birds, 15,000 clutches of eggs and 2000 specimens consisting of skeletal material. The original nucleus of the skin collection was formed by the birds assembled by Hugh Strickland (1811–53), and is thought to represent more than 3,000 of the nearly 10,000 recognised bird species.
Fund-raising brochure for the University Zoology Museum Cambridge