British Museum (Natural History). Dept. of Zoology.

Guide to the galleries of mammalia (mammalian, osteological, cetacean) in the Department of Zoology of the British Museum (Natural History) online

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Online LibraryBritish Museum (Natural History). Dept. of ZoologyGuide to the galleries of mammalia (mammalian, osteological, cetacean) in the Department of Zoology of the British Museum (Natural History) → online text (page 1 of 10)
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THE present Guide has been prepared with the object of being of
service not only to those who endeavour to learn something from
a cursory view of the collections on a single visit to the Museum,
but also to those who desire, by closer study, to acquaint them-
selves with the general arrangement and the principal features of
the members of this class of animals.

In the preparation of the parts relating to the Mammalian
and Osteological Galleries much assistance has been given by
Mr. OLDFIELD THOMAS, the Assistant in charge of these collec-
tions. The portion describing the contents of the Cetacean Gal-
lery has been written by the Director, Professor FLOWER, F.R.S.


Zoological Department,
February 14, 1885.



THE alterations introduced into the present edition consist chiefly
in changes of nomenclature, and in references to the more im-
portant additions which have been placed on exhibition since the
previous issue of this Guide : such as specimens of the Two-humped
Camel of Central Asia, of the Pigmy Hippopotamus of Liberia,
of a fullgrown ram of Hodgson's Sheep ; skeletons of the Killer-
Whale and Grey Whale of the North Pacific; the recently
discovered Mole-like Marsupial from Central Australia. The
opening-up of the countries of Eastern and Central Africa has
yielded several new and interesting forms of Antelope, whilst
Mr. St. G. Littledale has enriched the collection with a pair of
the European Wild Bison, a series of Polo's Sheep, and several
other large game-animals, all obtained by himself during his
expeditions into the Caucasus and Central Asia. Finally, the
exhibition of heads and horns of big game will be found con-
siderably enlarged by a magnificent donation of A. 0. Hume,
Esq., C.B., who has presented to the Trustees the whole of his
Collection of Indian Mammals.

A. G.

Zoological Department,

July 3, 1892.


Introductory Page

General Notes on Mammals 1

Their Systematic Arrangement 3

Mammalian Gallery 5

Osteological Gallery

The Skeleton of Mammalia 61

The exhibited Skulls and Skeletons .... 67

Cetacean Gallery

General Notes on Cetaceans 104

The exhibited Specimens 109

Alphabetical Index 124


MAMMALIA are vertebrate * air-breathing animals, more or less
clothed externally with hair ; the females are provided with
mammary or milk-glands, and the young are brought forth
alive, with the exception of the Australian Ornithorhynchus
and Echidna, which are oviparous. Their limbs are usually four
in number, the hinder pair being, however, sometimes either mo-
dified into swimming-paddles or suppressed altogether, while the
anterior are in some cases developed into wings, and in others into
nippers. The tail may be quite rudimentary, as in Man and the
higher Apes ; long, simple, and forming an apparently useless
appendage, as in Cats ; prehensile f, as in the American Monkeys
and Opossums ; provided with a long tassel for driving away insects
from the skin, as in Elephants, Cattle, &c. ; or, finally, modified
into a swimming-organ, either by the development on it of broad
" flukes/' as in the Whales, or merely by being itself flattened
vertically as in the Beaver, or from side to side as in the Musk-
rat, Potamogale, and others.

The heart of Mammalia consists of two completely separated
divisions, each with a ventricle and auricle. Their blood main-
tains a uniformly high temperature, with the exception of some of
the lowest forms^ as Echidna.

The number of known kinds of Mammals at present existing

* i. e. with a backbone.

t i. e. with the power of curling round and grasping objects.


on the earth, and sufficiently distinct from each other to be regarded
by zoologists as species, has been estimated at about 3000, and
there are doubtless many, especially among those of smaller size,
still to be discovered.

Mammals make their first appearance as far back as the Triassic
or early Mesozoic period, a few minute teeth, representing three
small species, having been found in the Rhsetic beds of Germany
and England. Later than these are the early Jurassic or Middle
Mesozoic Mammals, found at Stonesfield in Oxfordshire, where
several more or less complete lower jaws have been discovered,
such as those named Amphltherium and Phascolotherium, figured in
the Geological Guide, p. 77. In Upper Jurassic times also a very
large number of small mammals must have lived in this country,
as evidenced by remains found at Swanage, now exhibited in the
Palseontological Gallery.

Of the exact affinities of these Mesozoic Mammals it is almost
impossible to form an idea ; but there can be little doubt that their
nearest living allies are the Marsupials, that is " Didelphian "
Mammals, in which the young are brought forth in an embryonic
condition, completing their development in a pouch formed of the
external integuments of the mother. To this day Marsupials show
the same division into two groups, according to their dentition,
which is observed in the ancient Swanage genera Plagiaulax, as
figured in the Geological Guide, representing the modern dipro-
todont *, and the others the polyprotodont * Marsupials.

At the commencement of the Tertiary period te Monodelphian "
Mammals were already abundant, many of them resembling living
species a fact which shows how imperfect is our knowledge of the
intermediate time during which all these forms must have been
gradually developed from their Mesozoic ancestors. Thus the
Eocene, the earliest of the Tertiary periods, has yielded remains of
Bats, Insectivores, Carnivores, Rodentia, many Ungulates^ Sirenia,
and Cetacea.

The Mammals of the Miocene, Pliocene, and Pleistocene periods,

for which the Visitor is referred to the Geological Guide, have

increased in number and variety to the present day; but, at least

for those that dwelt on the land, the maximum of size has long

For the explanation of these terms see p. 99.


been past, the modern forms being as a whole but diminutive de-
scendants of their gigantic predecessors. On the other hand, the
evidence of fossil remains shows that at no time have Whales
existed so large as those that now swim in our seas.

The subjoined Table shows the manner in which the Mammalia
e classified
exhibition :

'are classified and arranged in the Galleries devoted to their

Systematic Arrangement of the Class Mammalia.


Suborder 1. ANTHROPOIDEA. Pages

Section 1. Catarrhini: Man and Old- World Monkeys .. 6, 67

2. Platyrrhini : New- World Monkeys 9, 70

Suborder 2. LEMUHOIDEA 10, 71

Suborder 1. FISSIPEDIA.

Section 1. JEluroidea : Cats, Hyaenas, and Civet-Cats . . 13, 72

2. Cynoidea : Dogs, Wolves, and Foxes 16, 74

3. Arctoidea : Bears, Weasels, and Raccoons .... 19, 75
Suborder 2. PINNIPEDIA : Seals, Walrus, and Sea-Lions .... 21, 77

Order III. INSECTIVORA : Shrews, Moles, Hedgehogs, &c 24, 78

Order IV. CHIROPTERA : Bats.

Suborder 1. FRUGIVOBA : Flying-Foxes 27, 81

2. INSECTIVOBA : Insectivorous Bats 28, 81


GALEOPITHECIDJE : Flying Lemurs : 29, 82



Section 1. Sciuromorpha : Squirrels 31, 84

2. Myomorpha : Rats and Mice 32, 84

3. Hystricomorpha : Porcupines 33, 85

Suborder 2. DUPLICIDENTATA : Hares and Rabbits 33, 86





Suborder 1. PROBOSCIDEA : Elephants 34, 86

2. HYRACOIDEA : Coneys 35, 88

3. PEBISSODACTYLA : Rhinoceroses, Tapirs, Horses,

and Asses 36, 89


Section 1. Bunodonta : Hippopotamus and Pigs 38, 91

2. Tylopoda. "^ f Camels and Llamas . . 40, 92

3. Tragulina. j Chevrotains 41, 92

4. Pecora. ^ uminants -j Oxen, Antelopes, Deer, ,.

and Giraffe 41,' 92

Order VIII. SIRENIA : Manatees and Dugongs 94

Order IX. CETAOEA : Whales and Dolphins.

Suborder 1. ODONTOCETI : Toothed Whales and Dolphins 109

2. MYSTACOCETI : Whalebone Whales 117


Suborder 1. PILOSA : Sloths and Anteaters 49, 97

2. LORICATA : Armadillos 50, 98

3. SQUAMATA : Pangolins 52, 98

4. TUBULIDENTATA : Aard-Varks 52, 99


Order XL MARSUPIALIA : Pouched Mammals (Kangaroos,

Opossums, &c.) 53, 99


Order XII. MONOTREMATA: Ornithorhynchus and Echidna . . 59,102

[A series of Catalogues, in which the contents of the Zoological collections are
described in detail, has been published by the Trustees. The entire series or single
volumes may be purchased in the Director's Office at the Museum, or ordered
through any bookseller.]

The MAMMALIA are exhibited in three Galleries :

1. The Mammalian Gallery (on the first floor), in which is
placed the series of stuffed specimens, with the exception of the
Sirenia and Cetacea. Skeletons of the most important types are
incorporated with this series. Also the collection of Antlers of the
family of Deer are ranged along the tops of the cases.

2. The Osteological Gallery (on the second floor), which con-
tains the complete series of skeletons and skulls. The stuffed
Sirenia and the collection of Horns of the Oxen, Antelopes, and
Sheep are also placed in this Gallery.

3. The Cetacean Gallery (in the basement), which contains
stuffed specimens and skeletons of the Whales and Dolphins.


In this Gallery^ which is devoted to the exhibition of the stuffed
specimens, the contents are arranged in a continuous series in the
Pier-cases, the order commencing on the left hand as the visitor p.L e . e
enters. Large specimens are placed in the Recesses between the
Cases or in the Saloon at the western end of the Gallery. Some
large Cases in the centre of the Gallery contain the Seals and Sea-
Lions, and certain of the larger Ungulates, and the collection of
Antlers of Cervidcs or Deer is distributed throughout the Gallery, on
the top of the Cases or on the Piers. The great size of some of the
Cetaceans (Whales and Dolphins) has prevented them from being
placed with the other members of their Class ; and a separate
Gallery in the basement has been prepared for their reception.




(Cases 1-10.)

The Primates consist of Man, Monkeys, and Lemurs. The
Monkeys most nearly allied to Man are the so-called Anthropoid *
Apes (the Gorilla, Chimpanzee, Orang Outang, and Gibbons),
which in many points of their internal structure approach
more nearly to Man than to the other Monkeys, though their
resemblance to him, both in osteological and external characters,

Fig. 1.

Fig. 2.

Fig. 3.

Fig. 1. Skull of Man. Fig. 2. Skull of old j and fig. 3, of young Gorilla.
* From the Greek anthropos, Man; anthropoid = Man-like.


is far greater in their infancy than after they have attained to
maturity. They are tailless, and habitually assume a semi-erect
position, using their disproportionally long arms to balance
themselves by resting their knuckles on the ground. Their great
toes are opposable, like thumbs, to the other toes, so as to form a
second pair of hands, on account of which the term Quadrumana
(four-handed) has been applied to them and the other Monkeys.

Several specimens of the Gorilla (Anthropopithecus gorilla) of
various ages are exhibited in the separate Case in the first recess on

Fig. 4.



the right of the Gallery (between Pier-cases 95 and 98), conspicuous
among them being two remarkably fine male specimens, whose
projecting jaws, powerful teeth, and enormous brow-ridges give
them a ferocious and savage appearance, wholly unlike that even
of the lowest of men, or of their own young.

In the corresponding Case on the left are the Chimpanzees
(Anthropopithecus niger and calvus) and Orang Outangs (Simla
satyrus)j the former being closely allied and very similar to the
Gorilla, and, like it, natives of the forests of Western and Central
Africa. The large male Orang in this Case shows very well the

Fig. 5.

Head of adult Orang Outang.

peculiar shape of the cheeks, which are provided with thick fleshy
protuberances. The Gibbons (Hylobates) , far less man -like in
[Case 1.] every way, are exhibited in Case 1. Their remarkable variability
in colour, exemplified by the groups of H. pilealus and lar, should
be specially noticed. The Orangs and Gibbons are found in
Sumatra and Borneo, the latter extending also northwards to
Burmah, Assam, and the Island of Hainan.

Passing now to the ordinary Monkeys, the first of the series
are the Cercopithecidte (Cases 2-6), comprising : (1) The long-
tailed Indian Monkeys (Semnopithecus) (Cases 2 and 3), of



medium size, with long tails, small posterior callosities, and
generally rather short crisp fur, nearly uniform in colour, natives
of India, China, and the East-Indian Archipelago. The most
striking species both in form and colour is the Proboscis Monkey
(so called on account of the remarkable length of its nose) (Nasalis
larvatus) of Borneo, of which a fine male example is placed in the
centre of the case. (2) The Colobi (Case 4), closely allied to the [Case 4.]
last, but natives of Africa ; some are dull rufous or grey, and others
finely marked with sharply contrasting black and white, with
long tufted tails, noticeably the Guereza (Colobus guereza}, which
has on its side a peculiar fringe of long white hairs reaching quite
down to the ground, and probably serving as a protection from the
fierce African sun. (3) The long-tailed African Monkeys (Cerco-
pithecus) (Cases 3 & 4), provided with cheek-pouches in which
food can be temporarily stored, large posterior callosities, and
extremely long tails; many of them are brilliantly coloured,
as for example the Mona Monkey (C. mono). (4) The Macaques,
chiefly inhabitants of Southern Asia, one species (Macacus inuus)
occurring in North Africa and leading a precarious existence on [Cases 5
the rock of Gibraltar (Cases 5 & 6). (5) The Baboons (Cyno- and 6 ^
cephalus), hideous animals with powerful teeth, projecting jaws,
nearly equal fore and hind limbs, and dull-coloured fur, natives
of Africa and Arabia (Case 6) : one species, the Mandrill (Papio
maimon), has a short stumpy tail, and a perfectly naked face, the
skin of which is brightly marked with blue and vermilion ; all the
others are dull-coloured animals, with well-developed tails.

All the species hitherto enumerated, from Man down to the
Baboons, are classed together as one group, the Catarrhini*, or
" narrow-nosed," distinguished by the very narrow division between
their nostrils and by having only 32 teeth; they are entirely re-
stricted to the Old World. The Monkeys following form the
group of Platyrrhini, or " broad-nosed 3> Monkeys, peculiar to
America, and characterized by their widely separated nostrils,
frequently prehensile tails, less perfectly opposable thumbs, &c.

The first family of this group is the Cebida, comprising : (1) The [Cases 7
Spider-Monkeys (Ateles) (Cases 7 & 8), remarkable for their ex- *
tremely long and slender limbs of which, alone among the Platyr-
* From the Greek kata, below, and rhis, nose ; the nostrils directed downwards.


rhini, the anterior are longer than the posterior their rudimentary
thumbs, and long prehensile tails. (2) The Howling Monkeys
(Mycetes, Case 7), the males of which possess a most extra-
ordinary voice, the resonance of which is increased by a peculiar
chamber formed by the middle portion of the bone of the tongue
(see p. 70) : they are stout, thick-set animals, with well-developed
thumbs, prehensile tails, and are generally of a uniform red, brown,
or blackish colour; the males are furnished with short thick
beards. (3) The Negro-Monkeys (Lagothrix, Case 8). (4) Tne
Yarkees and Uakaris (Pithecia and Ouakaria), two closely allied
genera, the first with peculiarly long thick hair all over its body
and tail, which latter, though long, is not prehensile ; the second
distinguished from all the other American Monkeys by having
scarcely any tail ; one species (O. calva), exhibited in this Case,
is quite bald ; and all are very thinly haired, in marked contrast to
the Yarkees. (5) The Squirrel-Monkeys (Nyctipithecus, Callithrix,
and Chrysothrix, Case 9) are all beautiful little creatures, with
soft bright-coloured fur, long, hairy, non-prehensile tails, and
well-developed thumbs; they live partly on insects. (6) The
[Case 9] Sapajous, or Capuchin Monkeys (Cebus, Case 9), are a genus of
numerous dull-coloured species, with thick prehensile tails and
well-developed thumbs. Being comparatively hardy and easily
tamed, trained specimens are frequently exhibited in this country.

The second family of the Platyrrhiui are the Hapalidae or Mar-
mosets, differing from the others by their non-opposable pollex *,
which is provided with a claw instead of a nail, their rudimentary
hallux f, long, hairy, and never prehensile tail, and the different
number of their teeth. They are small animals, some not exceed-
ing a rat in size, and of bright and varied appearance, many being
ornamented with long tufts of hair on their ears, and all being
more or less brightly coloured. They are almost entirely con-
fined to the forests of tropical South America, a single species
only extending as far north as Panama.

The second Suborder of the Primates the LEMUROIDEA
consists of a number of very remarkable animals, of a far lower type

* The first or innermost digit of the fore limb, corresponding to the human
u thumb," a name inapplicable when it is not opposable to the other digits,
t The first digit of the hind limb, corresponding to our " great toe."


than those we have hitherto mentioned ; they are for the most part
natives of Madagascar, although a few aberrant members of the
group are found in Africa and Southern Asia. They are invariably
arboreal in their habits, with generally long, bushy, and non-pre-
hensile tails, opposable thumbs and great toes, large eyes, and long
dog-like faces. They are divided into three families, of which the
typical one, the Lemurida, contains all but the whole of the
species. It is subdivided into the following groups :

1. The Indrisince (Indris and Propithecus) , from Madagascar,
characterized by their disproportionately long hind limbs, hind toes
united by skin, and the possession of only 30 teeth. They are
exhibited in separate Cases in the centre of the Gallery, and in Case
10. They are singularly variable in their colour, as may be seen by
the mounted groups of the different species. When on the ground
they move in an upright position, holding their arms over their heads
in order to balance themselves, and progressing by short leaps, in a
most awkward and ludicrous manner.

2. The Lemurince or true Lemurs (Case 10) , also confined to [Case 10.]
Madagascar, have fore and hind limbs of nearly equal length, toes

free to the base, and 36 teeth. They are more quadrupedal in
their actions than the last group, moving about both on the ground
and in trees with great activity. Like the Propitheci, they are very
variable in their coloration, being marked with various shades of
red, brown, and black. Specimens of the Ruffed Lemur (Varecia
varia) are exhibited in one of the separate cases.

3. The GalagmincB are distinguished by the unusual elongation
of their tarsal bones. There are two genera, of which the first,
Chirogale, contains 3 or 4 small species, with long bushy tails and
soft woolly fur. They are very like large dormice, both in their
appearance and habits, building nests and hibernating during the
winter. Galago, the second genus, is found in Africa, and dis-
tributed from Senegambia to Mozambique.

4. The group of Lorisince contains 5 or 6 rare and curious forms,
such as the Potto (Perodicticus potto) of Western Africa, and the
Loris of India and Ceylon. Specimens of both are exhibited in
Case 10.

The second and third families of the Lemuroidea, the Tarsiidte
and Chiromyidcs, contain each a single species only, viz. the Tarsier



[Case 10.] (Tarsius spectrum), an extraordinary little animal about the size of
a rat, with 34 teeth, very long feet, long tufted tally and extremely
large eyes ; it is a native of the islands of the East-India Archipelago.

The Aye-aye.

The type of the second family is Chiromys madagascariensis, the
Aye-aye of Madagascar, a still more specialized form, with only
18 teeth, large ears, a long bushy tail, and long compressed claws
on all the fingers and toes, with the exception of the hallux, which
is opposable and has a flat nail. The middle finger of the fore
foot is unusually thin, and it is said that with this finger the
Aye-aye pulls out of their holes the wood-boring caterpillars which
form part of its diet. It also uses its powerful incisors or cutting-
teeth, which are shaped like those of a Rodent, to gnaw through the
stems of sugar-canes and other similar plants, in order to obtain
their succulent juice.


(Cases 11-26.)

The Carnivora comprise the whole assemblage of animals known
by the name of Beasts of Prey the Cats, Wolves and Dogs, Bears,
Weasels, and many other allied animals. From this terrestrial
type another has been developed, adapted for an aquatic life, with
limbs modified into swimming-organs, viz. the Carnivora Pinnipedia,
or Fin-footed Carnivores Seals and Walruses.


The CARNIVORA FISSIPEDIA, or Land Carnivores, are divided into
three great grQups, of which the first, or ./ELUROIDEA*, contains the
Cats, Hyaenas, and Civet-Cats ; the second, or CYNOIDEA f, the
Dogs, Wolves, and Foxes; and the third, or ARCTOIDEAJ, the Bears,
Weasels, and Raccoons.

The Cats, or Felidce (Cases 11 to 16), are the most highly orga- [Cases
hized of all the Beasts of Prey, representing the predaceous type H-16.]
of animal in its fullest perfection. They are all lightly but strongly
built, with small heads, short ears, and, except in the Lynxes, long
hairy tails, which are never prehensile. They are invariably
digitigrade that is to say, they walk on their fingers and toes,
not on their palms and soles; and are provided with five toes
on their fore feet, of which the first, or pollex, does not touch
the ground, and four on their hind feet, the first being entirely
suppressed. Their sharp, powerful, and strongly-curved claws
are retractile, i. e. they can be drawn back when not in use, to
prevent them from being blunted by contact with the ground ;
the mechanism of retraction is explained on p. 73, in connection
with the osteology of the family. In disposition the Cats belong
to the fiercest of animals, and man has succeeded in taming, to a
certain extent, one member of the group only, our common House-
Cat; but all the other species become savage and bloodthirsty
when adult, even if, as kittens, they are apparently docile and
attached to their masters. The geographical distribution of the
Cats extends over the whole world, with the exception of Mada-
gascar and the Australian region.

Of the Lion there are exhibited an adult male Barbary Lion, [Case 11.]
showing the thick black mane, which is especially well developed
in North-African individuals; a maneless Lion from Gujerat,
formerly thought to represent a distinct species ; and a fine Lioness
from South Africa. There is a also a Lion-cub, bred in England,
which shows traces of the dark spots so general in the family of
Cats, a fact which appears to indicate that the ancestors of our
tawny spotless Lion had spotted coats like the other Cats. The

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Online LibraryBritish Museum (Natural History). Dept. of ZoologyGuide to the galleries of mammalia (mammalian, osteological, cetacean) in the Department of Zoology of the British Museum (Natural History) → online text (page 1 of 10)