Natural History - National Museum Cardiff
Discover the diverse natural history of Wales on this expedition from the seashore to the woodland and beyond.
Marvel at the enormous Basking Shark suspended above you. The largest fish around our coasts (up to 7.5m long and weighing in at 4 tonnes). The liver alone can account for a quarter of its body weight yet it feeds only on tiny animals known as zooplankton.
The imposing sea cliffs of Wales are home to several colonies of seabirds. The spectacular gallery scene is based on Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire, one of the most important seabird colonies in north-west Europe. You can see displays of species in their natural habitats, from Puffins and gulls to Gannets and Guillemots.
Muddy, sandy and rocky shores make Wales’ coastline an attractive habitat for the likes of starfish, snails, crustaceans and sea anemones. Displays around the edges of the gallery show sand dune formation and seashore plants.
Wales’ woodland is populated by trees up to 200 years old, supporting a fantastic range of wildlife. Flowers, ferns and fungi flourish at different times of the year, while a colourful array of birds, mammals and insects bring an added buzz of life to our forests.
The atmospheric gallery scenes recreate an oak woodland throughout the season, showing colourful signs of summer on the forest floor as the yellow of Primroses are gradually replaced by a carpet of Bluebells, one of the finest sights in Welsh woodlands. Around the edges of the gallery, displays focus on garden birds, pine forests, leaves, fungi, and invertebrates.
Even on dry land the Humpback Whale is a stunning sight. In the Man and Environment gallery, this 9m (29ft) skeleton of a young humpback was washed ashore near Barry in October 1982. It is thought to have been killed by a large piece of timber during a storm in the Atlantic while accompanying its family south for the winter.
Found stranded on the beach below Harlech Castle in September 1988, the largest Leatherback Turtle ever recorded has its own dedicated display in the gallery. This fine male specimen began life as a tiny 3 inch hatchling and is estimated to be over 100 years old. It won a place in the Guinness Book of Records at 916 kg, nearly 3m long and over 2.5m from flipper to flipper.
The Diversity of Life gallery showcases the amazing variety of life on earth in spectacular fashion. Come face to face with an array of plants and animals, from the insect-eating Pitcher Plant to the Snow Leopard to the Giant Earthworm – all 1.2 meters of it.