Tiago Metello, Assistant Curator of Vertebrate Biology
National Museums Collection Centre in Granton
“I wish I could see a wider spectrum of light, just like a Mantis Shrimp.
The dodo (Raphus cucullatus) was a flightless bird species from the family of pigeons and doves (Columbidae). It was native to the island Mauritius in the Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar. It became extinct in the 17th century due to over-hunting and invasive species that plundered nests and competed for resources on the island. Today the species is a symbol of extinction caused by humans.
The brown rat (Rattus norvegicus) (Z.DT.680) is part of the rodent order, an order shared with mice, capybaras, and porcupines. Brown rats can be found in all continents but Antarctica.
Rats are an important invasive species that threaten local fauna - mainly island-dweller birds. They can be a carrier of Weil's disease, rat bite fever, cryptosporidiosis, viral hemorrhagic fever, Q fever, and hantavirus pulmonary syndrome among others.
The European mole (Talpa europaea) (Z.2022.61.32) is a mammal from the order Eulipotyphla, which is the same order as hedgehogs and shrews. European moles can be found throughout Britain, apart from some of the Western Isles and Orkney and Shetland islands. Earthworms are the main part of their diet. Moles can bite and immobilize earthworms to consume later using their venomous saliva. They can also dig burrow systems spanning up to half a kilometer.
Dolly (Z.2003.40) was the first cloned mammal. She was a sheep (Ovis aries) of the breed Finn-Dornet. She was cloned by Roslin Institute researchers in Midlothian, Scotland, using the process of nuclear transfer from a mammary gland cell.
Dolly is on display in the Explore gallery on level 1.
Hippopotamuses (Hippopotamus amphibius) are semi-aquatic ungulates native to Africa. Hippos are the third heaviest land mammal after elephants and rhinos, weighing up to 1600kg. They are one the most dangerous mammals on earth, killing 500 people every year. Hippos are the closest living relatives to cetaceans (whales and dolphins).
You can see a model of a hippo in our Wildlife Panorama.
The jaguar (Panthera onca) (Z.2014.70) is the largest cat in the Americas and the third largest in the world after the tiger and lion. They have a range that stretches from the southwestern United States to northern Argentina and Paraguay. The jaguar has the most powerful bite among the felines, allowing it to pierce carapaces of turtles and skulls of monkeys and sloths.
Jaguars are threatened by habitat loss and hunting, particularly by farmers.
Haast’s eagle (Hieraatus moorei) was the largest eagle to ever exist. It lived on the South Island of New Zealand until the 1400s when humans arrived. Some estimate that the Haast eagle weighed over 16kg and had a wingspan of 3m. Its main prey was the moa, an extinct, heavy, flightless bird also native to New Zealand.
Bovines are representatives of the subfamily Bovinae and they include cows, bison, buffaloes, four-horned antelopes, and spiral-horned antelopes. Bovines were domesticated throughout the planet to be used for meat, milk, leather, draught and riding animals, and even as pets as in the case of the miniature Zebu. The biggest representative of the group is the gaur, also called the Indian bison.