Fossils really do live in Buckingham Palace

Traditions upheld by the Royal Family in Buckingham Palace might be dated, but they haven’t been around for nearly as long as the building.

Scientists have found the blocks used to make the 300-year-old palace come from Jurassic microbes that were alive 200 million years ago.

The material, known as oolitic limestone, is a popular building material around the world and is almost completely made of millimetre-sized spheres of carbonate called ooids.

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Traditions upheld by the Royal Family in Buckingham Palace (pictured) might be dated but they haven't been around for nearly as long as what's going on underneath the building

Traditions upheld by the Royal Family in Buckingham Palace (pictured) might be dated but they haven’t been around for nearly as long as what’s going on underneath the building

A new study led by the Australian National University has found the building blocks of Buckingham Palace and many other iconic buildings were made of these ancient microbes, according to the Telegraph

Different types of oolitic limestones have formed in all geological periods and have been found around the world, including in the United Kingdom, Germany, the US, the Bahamas, China and at Shark Bay in Western Australia.

The new study has revealed that ooids were made of concentric layers of mineralised microbes.

This debunks the popular ‘snowball theory’ that ooids were formed by grains rolling on the seafloor and accumulating layers of sediment.

‘We have proposed a radically different explanation for the origin of ooids that explains their definitive features,’ said co-researcher Dr Bob Burne. 

WHAT IS OOLITIC LIMESTONE?

Oolitic limestone is a popular building material around the world and is almost completely made of millimetre-sized spheres of carbonate called ooids.

Different types of oolitic limestones have formed in all geological periods and have been found around the world, including in the United Kingdom, Germany, the US, the Bahamas, China and at Shark Bay in Western Australia. 

A new study has revealed that ooids were made of concentric layers of mineralised microbes.

This debunks the popular ‘snowball theory’ that ooids were formed by grains rolling on the seafloor and accumulating layers of sediment.

Jurassic oolite in England has been used to construct much of the City of Bath, the British Museum and St Paul’s Cathedral.

Mississippian oolite found in Indiana has been used to build parts of the Pentagon and parts of the Empire State Building.

The material, known as oolitic limestone, is a popular building material around the world and is almost completely made of millimetre-sized spheres of carbonate called ooids. Pictured is a cross section of the ooids inside Rogenstein oolite

The material, known as oolitic limestone, is a popular building material around the world and is almost completely made of millimetre-sized spheres of carbonate called ooids. Pictured is a cross section of the ooids inside Rogenstein oolite

Humans have known about and used oolitic limestone since ancient times.

‘Many oolitic limestones form excellent building stones, because they are strong and lightweight,’ said Dr Burne.

Jurassic oolite in England has been used to construct much of the City of Bath, the British Museum and St Paul’s Cathedral.

Mississippian oolite found in Indiana has been used to build parts of the Pentagon and parts of the Empire State Building.

Pictured is Rogenstein oolite from Germany. Different types of oolitic limestones have formed in all geological periods and have been found around the world

Pictured is Rogenstein oolite from Germany. Different types of oolitic limestones have formed in all geological periods and have been found around the world

Professor Murray Batchelor from ANU (pictured standing, with Dr Bob Burne) led an international team of researchers on the study, which is published in Scientific Reports

Professor Murray Batchelor from ANU (pictured standing, with Dr Bob Burne) led an international team of researchers on the study, which is published in Scientific Reports

Professor Murray Batchelor from ANU led an international team of researchers on the study, which is published in Scientific Reports.

‘Our mathematical model explains the concentric accumulation of layers, and predicts a limiting size of ooids,’ said Professor Batchelor from the Research School of Physics and Engineering and the Mathematical Sciences Institute at the Australian National University. 

Researchers used a mathematical approach – inspired by 1972 work on brain tumours – that assumes ooids grew concentrically.

They sequenced the growth of these rings and then compared them to experimentally grown samples. From this they created a model that could help them understand their internal structures. 

Professor Batchelor said the research findings could help better understand the effects of past climate change. 

 

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