We regret the error

YanquiUXO, the Reddit user who originally posted this sign says that it comes from the Harvard Museum of Natural History, which hosts an annual event that allows artists to set up installations and performance art inside the museum. This is one of those pieces.

I can't find the name of the artist of this particular piece, though, so if you know, holler.

Many of the Redditors have wondered whether this piece took real-life inspiration from a lion that was famously (poorly) taxidermied for the King of Sweden in 1731. I have no idea, but the lion itself must be seen to be believed. The derp is strong with this one.

Image via Ed Yong


  1. It’s like the taxidermist was working from another person’s vague description of what a lion looked like, and that second person’s knowledge of lions came solely from old Disney cartoons.

    1. From what I read, the taxidermist’s second-hand knowledge of lions actually came from coats of arms. Which makes a lot more sense. Especially when the lion is viewed from the side. 

  2. When I was work at UT-Knoxville, there was an art install in the library.  It was a centaur fossil dig complete with bow (see it here: http://www.lib.utk.edu/aboutlibs/hodges/centaur.html)  After it was up for a week or so, fliers appeared next to it that explained that centaurs are mythological creatures and that this was an art install (not science).

  3. A few of the older HMNH specimens are a bit zoologically improbable, though they’re far better than the notorious Swedish lion.  Really, though, the saddest thing is the giraffe held together with packing tape.  Not all the mounted specimens are aging well, and they’re admittedly often difficult if not impossible to replace.  That being said, my four-year-old son loves the HMNH, so at the very least, it’s not terrifying for all small children.

  4. Did nobody read the article?  The crappy lion taxidermy job was just an example – not what was actually on display.  Maggie’s trying to find out if anybody knows what exactly was on display and taken down.

  5. No, maggie’s trying to find out who put that sign on display, which was the entirety of the art installation.

  6. By the way, the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoölogy is so outstanding you should fly to Boston just to visit it.

    1.  By the way, the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoölogy is so outstanding you should fly to Boston just to visit it.

      Heck yeah! The MCZ is one of my favorite spots in the Greater Boston Area. Pangolins, platypus skeletons, pink fairy armadillos, the Blaschka glass flowers exhibit…good stuff. I recognized it as soon as I saw the display case.

      If Xeni wants to know what inspired the sign, my guess is one of the aye-ayes. One of them is frickin’ terrifying.

  7. I’ve been told that bears can’t snarl and bare their teeth the way they’re usually presented when stuffed.

    I’m honestly not sure if this is actually true or not, though. I make it a point to avoid provoking bears whenever possible.

  8. So that lion image is REAL? Well, after looking at the side photo someone posted, yep, it seems the taxidermist had only seen lions on heraldica…

  9. Oh dear GOD! To heck with being terrifying to small children, that thing scared ME!

    Kill it! Kill it with a stick!

  10. It’s unethical to censor science just because it might scare little children.

    However I’m pretty sure there are other reasons to revise that one…

  11. That delightful sign was placed in an
    empty space (nothing actually removed) next to the tail of the pangolin — as
    part of the Harvard Museum of Natural History’s 2011 Bizarre
    Animals event, which drew
    over 700 to the museum for an extraordinary evening of innovative art
    installations, performances, video..and more.  That sign was one of many
    placed throughout the galleries for just that one evening, as part of an installation by New York-based
    poet Jen Bervin and the Woodberry Poetry Room at
    Harvard (Christina Davis, curator). You can still see the pangolin and 500 other taxidermied animals at the museum, but no poet’s signs.  Visit online at  http://www.hmnh.harvard.edu.

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