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Hampshire Museums Service

Vertebrates

Curiosities

  • Giant Capricorn beetle

    The Great Capricorn Beetle

    The Great Capricorn Beetle Cerambyx cerdo is an endangered species listed in the EU’s Habitats Directive. It is on the British list of beetles since it has been recorded as a Holocene sub-fossil in bog oak from the fens of Cambridgeshire. Occasional specimens have also been reported associated with imported timber. In June 2008, the Museums Service received a female specimen which had been found crawling along a garden path in Sherfield on Lodden, near Basingstoke. This spectacular insect had a body length of 50mm (antennae 53mm) and had most likely emerged from a nearby wooden building constructed of imported oak. The larvae of most longhorns feed on living or dead wood and may take several years to mature before they metamorphose into the adult beetle. Some species can be very destructive to their host tree usually as a result of their burrowing giving access to invasive fungi and disease.

     

  • Mounted specimen of the swamp cat

    Hayling Island Swamp Cat

    This specimen of a Swamp Cat, Felis chaus, (sometimes called a Jungle Cat or Reed Cat) was killed by a car in West Lane on Hayling Island, Hampshire, in July 1988. How it came to be there is a complete mystery as the species is normally found from Lower Egypt, through the Middle East, to most of Asia.

    The Swamp Cat is common in parts of India. Here it is found in a range of habitats including woodlands, reed beds and cornfields. It eats a variety of small mammals and birds and may even scavenge around human habitation but is not dangerous. Further reported sightings since this one was killed suggest that there may be at least one other animal still at large on Hayling Island

     

  • Mounted specimen of a Hoopoe

    Romsey Hoopoe

    Hoopoes, Upupa epops, are rarely seen in Britain. The Birds of Hampshire (1993. Hampshire Ornithological Society) describes it as "a very scarce passage migrant" in Hampshire. Hoopoes are birds of gardens, orchards and open woodland, usually nesting in holes in old trees. Most birds over-winter in Africa.

    This particular specimen caused a great deal of excitement amongst ornithologists and attracted much media interest when it turned up in Romsey, Hampshire, in late-November 1993. It unfortunately died during a cold and wet spell the following month. A detailed account of the bird's death was published in the Hampshire Chronicle (7 January 1994).

     

  • Dodo

    Dodo

    The Dodo, Raphus cucullatus, was a large flightless bird, related to the pigeon, which lived only on the island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean. When the island was first discovered by Europeans Dodos were common. Competition from introduced pigs and other non-native species led to the extinction of the Dodo, probably at the end of the 17th century.

    The Dodo bones in our collections include a breast bone, a pelvic girdle and various leg and wing bones which came from more than one bird. The bones were retrieved from a marsh on Mauritius by George Clark who presented them to his friend, William Curtis, (the founder of the Curtis Museum in Alton, Hampshire) in 1867. An account of their discovery had previously appeared in the journal Ibis (April 1866, pages 141-146).