A tale of two fossils…

The first is travelling to Japan

Media NHM’s Lorraine Cornish: “For us, it is one of our most important fossils”One of the true “rock stars” of the fossil world is going on tour for the first time. London’s Natural History Museum is sending its specimen of Archaeopteryx – the so-called “first bird” – to Japan. It is travelling to Asia with nearly 300 other treasures from the South Kensington institution’s collections. The limestone slabs that contain the bones of this pivotal creature on the evolutionary line from dinosaurs to birds are considered priceless. They are also very delicate. But museum officials are satisfied the iconic fossil will come to no harm. “The scary thing is that it contains parts that are only one or two millimetres in depth, and so for me going to Tokyo with it is a bit challenging,” concedes Lorraine Cornish, the head of conservation at the NHM. “But we’re doing some exciting touring exhibitions – putting ourselves out there to promote our collections. And if you’re going to do an exhibition about the ‘treasures of the Natural History Museum’ then you kind of have to include this fossil because it really is a treasure.”  It’s thought Archaeopteryx could fly – although perhaps not very well Purchased in 1863 for £700 from Germany, where it was unearthed, the fossil is referred to by experts simply as the “London Specimen”. It represents the holotype of the species.

The second is Michael Heseltine, who was sacked as an adviser to the Government, mainly because he couldn’t keep his big trap shut!