African Crocodile

This is the large, stuffed African Crocodile in the Museum court, which is now in a rectangular glass case, but was once unprotected by glass and could be touched by those prepared to chance the wrath of Museum porters. One of these foolhardy individuals was myself who, in 1973, patted the crocodile on the head. This moment was captured in a black and white photograph taken by my late father. I have therefore included this as my favourite thing because it represents my first recorded experience of the Museum and its collections and also reminds me of family trips to the Museum. Another reason is the general appearance of the specimen itself, which has been displayed in the Museum court since at least 1890. It is a fine example of the grand Victorian tradition of taxidermy, with a hint of anthropomorphism thrown in. This is particularly apparent in its facial expression, which is positively amiable rather than ferocious. Perhaps that is why I patted its head in the first place.

Andre Ashington, Geological Collections