Kangaroos take on the Olympics in Animal Record-Breakers at Natural History Museum

By Ben Miller | 20 February 2012
A photo of sculptures of animals and butterflies in a museum case
Exhibition: Animal Record-Breakers, Natural History Museum, Tring, until July 8 2012

If there was a long-distance race, humpback whales would win for a 16,000km haul between Costa Rica and Antarctica each year. Leatherback turtles have the record reptile dive, plunging 1,200 metres. And male emperor moths possess both the best sense of smell and some nifty advance courting skills, what with being able to detect females who are 11km away.

Animal Record-Breakers is pretty much what it says on the gallery wall, complete with a chance to don a set of water buffalo horns – they are, in case you haven’t guessed, the longest horns grown by a living animal.

A photo of a young girl playing in a natural history museum
The exhibition is part of the cultural build-up to the Olympics
“Some of the skills are sure to be surprising,” points out Interpretation and Learning Manager Alice Adams.

“Every four years we watch and marvel as our own species competes for Olympic gold, but the animals featured throughout the exhibition have adapted these amazing skills for survival.”

Adams’s display owes much to research carried out by Mark Carwardine while he compiled galloping tome the Natural History Museum Animal Records, and it also offers a series of chances for mere humans to attempt to catch up.

You can try and out-jump a kangaroo or test your target skills against an archerfish capable of spitting water more than a metre in the air, downing insects with deadly accuracy.

Part of the exhibition line-up for the London Games, some of these specimens make even the greatest Olympians seem moral.

  • Open 10am-5pm (2pm-5pm Sunday). Admission free.
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