The Eye of the Beholder

In our lab we become immersed in the study of our fossils. We clean and repair them, sort them from sediment, extract them from rocks, count them, measure them, scan them, draw them, classify them, ponder on their evolutionary history and taxonomy, work out how they fit into the ecological framework of their time and place, write papers, give lectures, and discuss them at length with colleagues.

But in among all this science something perhaps get lost along the way. Something that either we don’t notice at all, or for which we forget to look. Their simple beauty.

So it’s time to step out of the scientists’ shoes and value the fossils as simply beautiful objects in their own right, and perhaps to ponder on the living animals that fleshed out the bones, some of which we shall never see again.

Here are just a few photographs of some particularly beautiful specimens (not all from our lab).


Metamorphosis: Thylacine into……..butterfly?

Small Passerine bird mummy (unidentified) (modern)

Ngapakaldia sp. skull (~ 24 million years)

(Extinct herbivore in the Phascolarctidae family, related to wombats & koalas)

Beautiful symmetry – Shingleback lizard (Tiliqua rugosa) scales (modern)


A nose by any other name………. Diprotodon sp.

An exquisite male Microbrachius dicki 

(A tiny Placoderm species from the Middle Devonian ~387-382 million years)

Hand of Thylacoleo carnifex (late Pleistocene)

Last, but not least. Simply stunning – the ‘Ammolite Ammonite’

from the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

If you enjoyed these then also check out our blog item ‘This Fish will Blow you Out of the Water!’ And, if you haven’t seen it already, the opalised fossil Plesiosaur in the S.A. Museum is equally stunning.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *