Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Oxford University Museum of Natural History

   Housed in the most extraordinary of Victorian Gothic buildings located on Parks Road the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, which also shares the building with the Pitt River Museum, is considered to be one of the finest natural history museums to be found anywhere, boasting a huge collection that includes 250,000 examples of zoological specimens, 375,000 fossils and 30,000 mineral specimens.
   Of all of the many exhibits perhaps the most famous of all is found within the Life Collections section.
   There you will find the last remaining traces of the long extinct dodo, which fell into the hands of John Trade scant at the time when the bird, which was native only to the island of Mauritius, was considered a collectible curiosity in Europe, which led of course to its destruction as a species.
   All that survives now of Trades cant’s dodo is a mummified skull and one foot but from that the life-size model displayed next to it was created, initially in the mid nineteenth century. How accurate that is is hard for modern experts to tell, as their long ago peers did like to romanticize and embellish a lot. Still, it’s a breathtaking – and slightly sad – exhibit to see up close.


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