Fossil Hunting

The Daughter with an Ammonite

The Daughter with an Ammonite

The Daughter has never been particularly fond of dinosaurs. All the boys she’s friends with are – although they prefer superheroes – but she’s always maintained that dinosaurs are scary. Despite this dislike, she remains very concerned as to what happened to them. 

“There aren’t any dinosaurs any more, are there, Mummy? So where did they go?”

“Did all the dinosaurs die, Mummy? Why?”

And, eventually:

“Look, Mummy. Just tell me. What killed all the dinosaurs?”

I tried to explain that no one really knew for sure, although there were theories to do with meteorites and climate change and so forth, but I think she thought I was being purposefully vague. I’ve never quite been sure if the question bothered her so much because she wanted to be sure that, wherever they’d gone, they couldn’t come back, or if she wanted to check that whatever killed them couldn’t get her too. Or, maybe she just hates an unanswered question…

Anyway. Over dinner on Friday night the subject came up again, but this time with a slightly different twist.

“I wish I could see a dinosaur.”

The Daughter wishes many, many things on a daily basis, so we assumed this was just one more. I explained that you could see models and skeletons and fossils from dinosaurs in the Natural History Museum in London. The Daughter almost bounced off her chair in excitement.

“Can we go there? Tomorrow?”

The Husband and I looked at each other. Tomorrow was Saturday and, for once, we didn’t actually have anything planned. Yes, I was supposed to be fitting in a couple of hours writing somewhere, but…

“Okay, then,” we said.

Getting into London was an adventure in itself, at least for the Daughter. A 40 minute train ride into Kings Cross, brunch at the station and then the most exciting part of the whole day – The Underground Train. The Daughter clung to her pole and stared wide eyed at the array of people around her. She learnt to Mind The Gap and not to ask questions about people’s appearance until the person in question had left. Both very valuable lessons…

Reading her dinosaur book on the train home

Reading her dinosaur book on the train home

At the museum, we headed straight for the dinosaurs (of course) and I had a brief moment of panic. The Daughter didn’t seem terribly impressed with the massive Diplodocus skeleton in the main hall. Was the dinosaur exhibit going to be a huge let down?

Fortunately not. She ran around the opening section calling “Mummy! You have GOT to see THIS!” as I followed behind at a more normal pace. Then we climbed the stairs and made our way along the high level viewing platform thing, reading out the details of the skeletons we passed, until, up ahead, we heard a roaring noise.

The Husband and I exchanged another look. The Daughter has a tendency to be very, very afraid of things that make loud noises or make unexpected movements. Still, we’d come this far…

Turns out, the Daughter’s second favourite part of the whole day (after the tube) was the giant animatronic Tyrannosaurus Rex. Hand driers? Terrifying. Moths? Scary beyond measure. Enormous T-Rex roaring right in her face? No problem at all.

I have given up trying to understand the Daughter.

After the T-Rex, we descended into the main exhibition, where she finally got her answer to the question of the day. Or, rather, several answers. The museum confirmed my ‘nobody really knows’ stance, and she got to read through some of the theories. We discounted hayfever and allergies as a possible cause for mass extinction, and settled on meteorite with a side of climate change as the most likely option.

Satisfied, she declared it time to go to the gift shop.

We also took a look around the Earth section, where the Daughter gasped in delight at the giant escalator going up through a model of the earth. She twisted, pressed, stroked or pulled every single interactive part of the geology exhibit, and fell in love with the gemstones display (Much more “Mummy! Mummy! Look at THIS!! And THIS!!!!” and also: “Mummy, the Museum is the best place in the world, ever. Ever!”). She wants a Fire Opal desperately, and was very disappointed when the Earth Shop couldn’t supply her with one. She did, however, spend her pocket money on a set of glow in the dark planets that now hang from her bedroom ceiling, circling the light in the correct order and an approximation of actual distance from the sun. I expect they’ll attract moths.

As I carried her out of the museum, ready to go find somewhere to sit down, eat pizza and drink wine, I asked the Daughter how she was feeling, expecting her to say “Hungry” or “Tired.”

“Happy,” she said, and kissed my cheek.

I suspect we’ll be visiting the Natural History Museum again very soon.