Eagle-eyed visitors given chance to check out Terror Bird’s skull

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NATURAL history treasures hidden from public view for more than a century will go on display on a regular basis after they were the surprise hit of an event called the Festival of the Mind.

The festival, which was run by Sheffield University last September, included a series of shows and exhibits, but guided tours of the little-known Alfred Denny Museum proved much more popular than expected.

The collection was set up by the university’s first Professor of Biology, Alfred Denny, in 1905 to aid his teaching and includes the enormous skull of an extinct man-sized eagle known as the Terror Bird.

One of Denny’s successors, TV bird expert and animal behaviour specialist Prof Tim Birkhead, is in charge of the museum and has secured funding to open it once a month after the huge public interest.

He said: “The public’s enthusiasm for the museum has been inspirational. We’re thrilled to be able to open up the museum for everyone.

“We’re so pleased that the public are eager to learn more about the amazing world of nature and there’s no better place to start than here at the Alfred Denny Museum.”

Last year hundreds of visitors flocked to the museum to see some of its weird and wonderful exhibits.

Starting today, the museum, which is on the university’s city campus, will open to the public on the first Saturday of every month from 9.30am to 1pm.

Alongside the Terror Bird, other exhibits include a half porpoise, fossilised tiny flying dinosaurs and sun spiders with their ferocious, poisonous jaws.

During public access it will be manned by volunteers who will guide visitors through the collection.

martin.slack@ypn.co.uk