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Top left: The museum can trace its history back to 1814 when the first collections were made but it was in 1865 that the museum moved to its first purpose-built building – erected on the site of Cambridge’s first botanic garden. This picture shows the old Museum with the two elephant skeletons, the African elephant on the right, the Indian on the left. Top middle: A probable microsaur, Kirktonecta milnerae, from the Early Carboniferous of East Kirkton, near Bathgate in Scotland. This specimen is the earliest known microsaur and the only one so far from the UK and shows evidence of soft tissue preservation. Microsaurs all had short tails and small legs, but were otherwise quite varied in form. The group included lizard-like animals that were relatively well-adapted to living on dry land, burrowing forms, and others that, like the modern axolotl, retained their gills into adult life, and so presumably never left the water. UMZC 2002a Top right: On 27 December 1831, at the age of 22, Charles Darwin set sail aboard HMS Beagle bound for South America. During the 5 year surveying voyage he collected many specimens of animals, plants and rocks, including a fine collection of fish. On his return, Darwin sent these fishes to the Reverend Leonard Jenyns to describe and he identified several new species from them. Bottom left: Of all the Museum’s specimens, one of the most evocative is the skeleton of the Dodo, (Raphus cucullatus), an extinct flightless bird that lived on the island of Mauritius, east of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean. Just what a dodo looked like is still not really known and this specimen is made from the bones of several birds assembled in the 19th century. The first recorded mention of the Dodo was by Dutch sailors in 1598. In the following years, the bird was hunted by sailors, their domesticated animals, and invasive species introduced during that time. The last widely accepted sighting of a Dodo was in 1662 but its extinction was not immediately noticed, and some considered it to be a mythical creature. Bottom right: The Swallowtail (Papilio machaon subspecies britannicus) is Britain’s largest native butterfly and the only member of the Papilionidae family resident in Britain. This specimen was caught on Swaffham Fen in Cambridgeshire in 1906. This British subspecies is now only found on a small number of Norfolk broads and specimens like this can therefore provide invaluable evidence of the past distribution, ecology and appearance of our native fauna.

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Zoology Museum, Cambridge  

Fund-raising brochure for the University Zoology Museum Cambridge

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