Odds and quads

This male finback whale was first spotted at sea in 1865 by a coastguard, who mistook it for the upturned keel of a wrecked ship.

April 7, 2011

Its carcass later washed ashore at Pevensey in East Sussex where it caused a major stir. Some 40,000 people came to see it on the beach.

The carcass was claimed by the Corporation of Hastings as flotsam and jetsam, and sold at auction to a group of businessmen. The buyers formed the Great Fin, Northern or Greenland Whale Company and gave tours.

The original guidebook says: "This kind of whale, sir, has the smallest swaller...and he strains all his wittles through these 'airs, which goes around his chops, for you can see he has no teeth...and he eats nothing bigger than a sprat."

The skeleton was later purchased by the University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge, where it remains on display, hanging above the main entrance.

Send suggestions for this series on the treasures, oddities and curiosities owned by universities across the world to: matthew.reisz@tsleducation.com.

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