Across the museums, galleries, theatres and other cultural institutions of Liverpool there’s a vast treasure trove of records, objects and photographs which can help us make sense of many stories throughout history. While in lockdown we’ve asked those with access to this wealth of narratives to uncover some of those items.
To celebrate #EarthDay, the team at World Museum have dug out three treasures which allow us to pause and reflect on our blue planet and our relationship with it.
Wendy Simkiss, Curator of Geology and Science:
“Earth Day is an opportunity for us to reflect on our planet, and hopefully to consider our very small, but hugely significant part in its long history. Lockdown is showing us what happens when we take a step back; pollution reduces, skies become clearer, flowers grow through and birds have the skies all to themselves. The objects that we have within our World Museum collection shows a snippet of the story of the world before humans arrived, and Earth Day is a great chance for us to plan what the next chapter should be.
In the museum, collections are being cared for by our incredible team of Venue Managers and Curators who are stepping in from all disciplines to care for our incredible and varied collections.”
Eoraptor luminensis. “At 231 – 228 million years old, this is the oldest known dinosaur fossil found to date. It was found in north western Argentina. The animal itself appears to be a small omnivorous bipedal dinosaur. At this time in Earth’s history (Late Triassic Period) dinosaurs did not rule the Earth and would be small and required to hide from large predatory reptiles related to crocodiles.”
Brazil Nuts Bertholeetia Excelsa. “This carved pod shows the sixteen or so seeds inside. We eat about 50,000 tonnes of these each year and it must come from wild rainforest as it cannot be grown in plantations; the bee that fertilises the flower needs wild orchids as well. The seed is spread by a large rodent called an Agouti. It shows the interconnectivity of life on this planet. If harvested sustainably a way to save the rainforest.”
Barringer Crater Meteorite. “Possibly the oldest thing you will ever touch is inside a metal cage on a bench in World Museum’s Space Gallery. It is the remains of a meteorite that crashed onto earth 50,000 years ago. It landed in Arizona when Woolly Mammoths and giant Sloths roamed the land. Earth is about 4.5 billion years old. That’s really old, but the material to make Earth had to be made earlier. The Barringer meteorite is composed of iron and nickel and formed inside an asteroid, which broke up, very early in the Solar System’s history. It is an example of the material that would have helped form Earth and is believed to be over 4.7 billion years old!”
Banded ironstone. “Forget yoghurt, without “friendly bacteria” you wouldn’t be here at all. About 3800 million years ago the first oceans began to develop and rocks called Banded Ironstones formed. These are red and grey striped rocks made of thin bands of iron oxides. During the warm and sunny seasons bacteria in the sea made oxygen by photosynthesis. The oxygen made the iron in the sea water rusty, this settled on the sea floor in thin layers of red iron. At cooler times the bacteria made carbon dioxide which made a darker iron layer. Why is it important to us? Oxygen was poisonous to these early bacteria. The reaction of the oxygen with the iron allowed the bacteria to live and go on to colonise large areas of the sea floor. Without this early burst of life, it is unlikely other creatures, including us, would not have developed.”
Take a virtual tour of Liverpool’s museums at liverpoolmuseums.org.uk