Afterlife: the mounted skin in Vienna, Austria


Vienna buck Vienna buck

Image © Natural History Museum, Vienna

The Natural History Museum in Vienna has one of the four surviving blue antelope skins, mounted as a specimen. This specimen came into the collections some time between 1786 and 1800, and is the only female in existence. The following is a translation of the report by Erna Mohr, in her monograph of 1967.

The mounted Blaubock of the Vienna Museums is a female. It is not known how they got it. KOHL in 1886 wrote about it with no hint of where it came from. He was however convinced about leucopaheus as an independent species. He juxtaposed measurements of the bluebuck on show with the measurements of a female roan antelope in the Vienna collection.

(The first measurement given is H.leucophaeus, the second, H. equinus)

Length of body without tail.................i) 188 ii) 200

Length of tail without brush................i) 49 ii) 61
Shoulder height..................................i) 102 ii) 124
Horn, start of proximal curve..............i) 51 ii) 38
Linear distance from back horn...........i) 41 ii) 33
Circumference of horn tip at its base...i) 12.5 ii) 13.5
Length of horn without annulations....i) 13.7 ii) 16
Number of annulations.......................i) 26 ii) 13

As in 1967, the mounted animal in Vienna appears to be the best. It is a bit higher at the withers than at the 'Kruppe'. It has quite visible hair whirls. SCHREBER in his description of the species has very carefully referenced these. Hair whirls on the lower neck are very clear to see, very prominent. The parting in the hair is near the top of the nose. The bright spot over the eye appears quite clearly as Pallas (1766) desribed the object. In contradiction to later authors, such as BUFFON (1778 etc.) and SHAW (1801) who accept a white line, as opposed to a spot, from the eye to the rhinarium, as in niger, the sable antelope. A dark patch specified within the light circle over the eye is visble [..?].

The tail tip is very nice and more full in comparison to the other three examples, which have shrunk considerably over the last couple of hundred years. The back is lighter than the other three males, and it is not known if this is a gender difference or it is bleached.

Translated from German to English with the kind help of Doris Voetter.

Grateful thanks to the staff of the Mammal Section at The Natural History Museum in Vienna for help and permission to use photographs of the mount here and elsewhere in this website. Images © Natural History Museum, Vienna


Vienna swirl Vienna tail