Expedition specimens

Several important Antarctic expeditions are represented in the spirit collection, as are James Cook's famous circumnavigations of the globe.

Antarctic expeditions

Of particular scientific and historic interest are collections from Antarctic expeditions, including:

  • Discovery (1901-1904) and Terra Nova (1910-1912) expeditions, led by Captain Robert Falcon Scott (1868-1912).
  • Shackleton-Rowett expedition (1921-1922) under Ernest Shackleton (1874-1922) and later Frank Wild (1873-1939).
Terra Nova (1910-1912)

Probably the most famous of our historic Antarctic specimens is the last embryo from the three Emperor Penguin eggs collected during the Terra Nova expedition. 

Vestiaria coccinea, iiwi. Preserved in spirit.

An i'iwi, Vestiaria coccinea, collected in the late 1770s.

The egg-collecting team consisted of:

  • Edward Wilson (1872-1912)
  • Apsley Cherry-Garrard (1886-1959)
  • Henry ‘Birdie’ Bowers (1883-1912)

Cherry-Garrard was the only member of the team to survive the expedition, after Bowers and Wilson died with Scott on the return from the South Pole. He later wrote about the journey to collect the eggs in the dead of winter in his book The Worst Journey in the World (1922).  

Two of the embryos recovered were subsequently sectioned for slides for analysis. These are also held in our anatomical collections.

Captain James Cook's voyages

The oldest specimens in the spirit collection date to Captain James Cook’s voyages of discovery, including an I’iwi Vestiaria coccinea from his third voyage, collected in Hawaii between 1778-1779. 

Very few actual bird specimens survive from Cook’s voyages, most of the records of birds are paintings, making these few pickled specimens valuable survivors.