Mammals (blue whale)

Discover a world of massive mammals. Inspect a blue whale, the largest creature ever, from above and below.

The life-size model of a blue whale.

The centrepiece of this gallery is the awesome life-size model of a blue whale suspended from the ceiling. It’s the largest creature ever, bigger even than the dinosaurs, and is still alive today.

Hippopotamus with it's huge mouth wide open.

You can also see some of the largest creatures on the planet, learn the truth about unicorns and discover how to make whale noises as you explore the amazing world of mammals.

Some of the heaviest elephant tusks ever found

There were once many animals in the proboscidean group, including the woolly mammoth, but the elephant is the only proboscidean alive today. Its tusks are actually long incisor teeth that can grow to over three metres long. In our display, you can see some of the heaviest tusks ever found.

The Ilford mammoth

See the huge skull and tusks of the steppe mammoth, Mammuthus trogontherii, which lived about 200,000 years ago. It was discovered in Ilford, Essex (it’s known as the Ilford mammoth), and is the only complete mammoth skull ever found in Britain. You need to get close to these huge bones in the gallery to appreciate the enormity of this Pleistocene-era creature.

Woolly mammoth

Woolly mammoths died out around 11,000 years ago, but by studying fossils and their modern relatives like elephants, scientists have been able to work out how they might have lived.

Giant deer, Megaceros giganteus

The extinct giant deer, Megaceros giganteus, had the largest antlers of any deer, dead or alive. They measured up to 4 metres across. Nearby this impressive skeleton see examples of modern-day deer antlers and learn how they are shed and re-grown every year.


Zebras, asses and horses look different on the outside, but underneath their patterned coats they are quite similar. They all belong to the equidae family of mammals. Most equids are endangered in the wild, but the horse and the donkey flourish as domesticated animals.

Narwhal tusk.

In the Middle Ages, people thought the narwhal’s tusk was the horn of a unicorn and it was in demand as an antidote to poisons. The narwhal is actually a small whale and its tusks, which are only found on males and can grow to as much as three metres long, are actually extended teeth.

Skeleton of a Steller’s sea cow, a cold-water relative of manatees and dugongs.

Steller’s sea cow, a cold-water relative of manatees and dugongs, was discovered by a stranded ship’s crew in the Bering Strait, between Alaska and Siberia, in 1741. They found it was good to eat – and within 30 years it had been hunted to extinction.

Compare the size of a blue whale and human brain

In the gallery balcony you can compare a blue whale's brain with a human's. Although there is a big size difference, they have an important feature in common - a highly developed cortex, the area of the brain associated with intelligence. Find out how the behaviour of whales and dolphins relates to intelligence.