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  • Susan Elaine Jones

Skull with a smile

One of the most engaging exhibits at the Oxford Museum of Natural History is this skull. It is a juvenile Western Gorilla, looking out of one of the glass cases with as much curiosity as I looked in. It is noted in the database as Gorilla savagii - which along with King Kong helped give the impression that gorillas were savage. No more so than humans. Specifically the Thomas Savage who collected many of the early specimens in the 1840s, which were taxonomically named in his honour. Their taxonomy has been updated to Gorilla gorilla, and following the new fashion of stuttering repetition naming, the subspecies Gorilla gorilla gorilla.

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