Item number: 5244
A Large 19th Century Hippopotamus Skull, ‘Hippopotamus Amphibius’
Ex Lancashire Private Museum Collection
Ex English Private Collection, Passed by Descent
One of the largest living mammals, this formidable creature is one of the most aggressive and dangerous animals in the world, attacking humans when encountered without provocation. A character trait acknowledged and greatly appreciated by the ancient Romans who are known to have matched them against men for sport in gladiatorial combat.
Contrary to its general appearance the Hippopotamus can move extremely fast, easily capable of outrunning a human. The animal possesses an enormous mouth and teeth, its jaws are hinged in a way that allows them to open to nearly 180 degrees and are capable of applying biting pressure of tremendous force. The prominent enlarged lower canines and incisors grow continuously throughout its life, the teeth constantly being sharpened by the action of grinding against one another.
The skull of the Hippopotamus is considered one of the most impressive of all living creatures, as such, examples have been keenly sought and have remained highly prized by collectors for centuries.
Mounted on its original oak base which is marked to the underside with an old inventory number, ‘3807’, and fitted with brass castors for ease of movement this superb, large example was formerly an exhibit in a mid 19th century, privately established Lancashire museum. The skull was purchased along with the tusk of a Narwhal, a mounted Giant Clam shell and an assortment of museum display cabinets, by a private collector in the 1860’s at auction after the museum disbanded, the specimens remaining in the family for generations.
Skull: Height: 54cm, Length: 90cm, Width: 55cm
Base: Length: 104cm, Width: 76.5cm
Overall Height: 69.5cm (Including base)