Odds and quads

During the past Ice Age, this large sabre-toothed cat (Smilodon californicus) ventured into the La Brea pits near Los Angeles, where tar still bubbles to the surface from underground hydro-carbon deposits, in order to feed on trapped animals - only to become stuck itself.

July 21, 2011

Although 10,000 years old, it is one of the younger fossils in the geology collection at the University of Bristol's department of earth sciences. The cat is accompanied by the skeleton of a green iguana, prepared at the department of anatomy. Although they can grow up to 1.5m long, such specimens have proved very useful in the training of veterinarians, who now often have to treat pet lizards.

Both of these items formed part of the virtual Cabinet of Curiosities the university assembled for its centenary in 2009, which included everything from ammonites, masks and handbills to Sir Laurence Olivier's white gloves.

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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