Thursday, August 3, 2017

Irish Elk at the Ulster Museum

The entrance to the archaeological section (i.e. the best bit) of the Ulster Museum is guarded by two Irish elk (Megaloceros giganteus). One is a skeleton of that iconic beast and the other is a reconstruction of what the animal most probably looked like in life. I love both of these … not just because they mark where my main interests in the museum begins … but because together they literally put flesh on the bones of an extinct animal. And, whether animal or human, isn’t that exactly what a museum should do?

Go check out their web page for opening times and all related information [here] … it’s well worth the time and the trip!

As you stop and admire the conserved skeleton and the reconstructed one (seemingly caught mid yawp) reflect on these magnificent animals that once roamed across Ireland and as far east as Siberia and China. Reflect too on the fact that my instinct led me to imagine them as producing a ‘yawp’ when, if they were anything like their modern relatives, they would have produced a rather disconcerting bugling sound.

In doing a (very) little reading for this post, I discovered that the Irish Elk is part of the Coat of Arms of Northern Ireland ... which is pretty cool! Read more about this magnificent animal here