Form and Function

Animals have two very different sides to them: the outside that we see when we observe them in nature, and the inside; which is usually not seen. However, in a museum, both of these sides to animals can be observed next to each other. We can explore the relationships between the outer appearance, and what we know about the ecology of animals, and their skeleton using specimens in the Natural History Museum.

This activity uncovers these relationships in two key ways using the museum specimens:

  • Observation of key features of skeletons: Students will consider, discuss, and explore whole and sections of skeletons to uncover how they work, and what they can tell us about the ecology and appearance of the animal;
  • Creative reconstruction of animals through pencil illustration. Students will examine the skeleton of an animal, making inferences about where the animal lived and what it ate, with students drawing what they think the live animal looked like.