"My Favorite Museum Exhibit": The cyclops

"My Favorite Museum Exhibit" is a series of posts aimed at giving BoingBoing readers a chance to show off their favorite exhibits and specimens, preferably from museums that might go overlooked in the tourism pantheon. I'll be featuring posts in this series all week. Want to see them all? Check out the archive post. I'll update the full list there every morning.

From Australia's McLeay Natural History Museum at Sydney University comes ... dun dun dun ... the Cyclops!

Sorry. I've got a bit of THE TRIUMPH OF MAN stuck in my head. Actually, this skull belonged to a foal, says Justin Cahill, who sent in the photos. It's part of a long, natural history museum tradition of exhibiting the weird and often grotesque, preserving them as examples of how the natural way isn't always ideal. The same forces that shape evolution can also seriously screw you up. So much of what we call "normal" is based on chance.

Nobody ever actually saw this foal alive, by the way. The skull was found in the Hawkesbury River in 1841. But there have been attempts to reconstruct what the horse might have looked like during it's brief time alive. You can see that photo after the cut:


  1. Human cyclops babies are pretty common, although I think  they aren’t born alive.   They are common in pathology museums, and some seem to have gone full term before ending up in a jar of formaldehyde.   They seem to all have a little tube nozzle in the forehead, and I’m not sure what that is. Fusion of the eye sockets vary – some are  figure eights but some look like Leela on Futurama. 

    You can see how this sort of thing gave rise to Greek  legends of monsters – someone saw the baby and said “Yikes the father Cyclops must be somewhere nearby!”

  2. If I recall my cryptozoology correctly, this skull was claimed as being that of a bunyip for a while before being properly identified.

    Edit – Oh derp. It was a different deformed skull that was identified as a bunyip. A lot of misshapen skulls in 19th century Australia it seems…

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