THATNat: Rock or Bone?

On your THATNat at the Natural History Museum, you’ll come across lots of objects that look like skeletons. Mighty T-Rex skulls, a full Iguanodon, and winged pteranodons. But are the skeletons the same as the skulls of the mammoths and mastodons in the museum’s collection?  

It’s a tricky question – one that we will answer on the hunt, of course!  

Not all fossils are bones. Any trace of a long-dead creature can be a fossil. Footprints are fossils. Bones are fossils. Egg shells are fossils. Even droppings are fossils – and we can learn a lot from them! But don’t expect to find some dino do-do with any organic matter in it. That stuff is long gone.  

Dinosaur remains are millions of years old, and none actually have any cell tissue in them anymore. They aren’t, well, bones. They are simply mineral replications of the bones that they once were. They have the shape and form of bone, but they are essentially rocks. There is a particular process that leads to these bones becoming the fossils you see today.  

If you can find the name of this process (our IG or Twitter @THAT_Muse_ might answer before our big THATNat launch! As would google…), you’ll have some bonus points in your pocket for the upcoming THATNat launch, Dinosaurs and Extinct Beasts, on Sunday 25 March, 2 pm!  

Just in time for Easter, we’ll be celebrating these creatures by bringing them back to life, even if just in our imaginations! Details about our public THATNat launch at the Natural History Museum can be seen on our THATNat launch blog post here.

By Bryan Pirolli