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Fossils have always fascinated and intrigued people, but their true nature has not always been understood. Long before scientific understanding of fossils as evidence of ancient lifeforms, myths and legends were used to make sense of these unexplained objects. Fossil tales are as diverse as the civilisations that created them.

Objects of superstition, fossils have been used for many purposes since prehistory – often associated with medicine and healing, magic and ritual or simply as decoration. These object stories explore some of the most popular and enduring beliefs associated with fossils. 

Featured in the header image are 'Jew's stones' that are in fact club-like spines of cidaroid sea urchins. The earliest Cidaroida lived 300 million years ago and are still extant today. In folklore, Jew's stones have been used as medicine for over 3,000 years. They were used to treat and prevent common, painful urinary disorders, particularly kidney and bladder stones. 

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