The Naked Scientists

The Naked Scientists Forum

Author Topic: Do skeletal remains have a purpose or function?  (Read 1522 times)

Offline ConfusedHermit

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 101
    • View Profile
Do skeletal remains have a purpose or function?
« on: 20/03/2013 13:11:39 »
I was thinking about an old thread I made about whether or not precious minerals have a purpose outside of humans using them for jewelry, and it got me thinking about other things in nature that just seem to be 'there.' Like bones. Human bones, dinosaur bones, acres and acres of cemeteries, millennia of history in the animal kingdom.

Most organisms feed off one another to the bone, and then that's it. The planet has life that makes use of itself with food chains and ecosystems, and yet produces things that just fill space, like gems and bones. All just laying there or buried. For millions of years. I'm confused! :{D~

Main question(s):
- Do skeletal remains have a purpose or function (outside of humans uses)?
- Would bones and gems be considered pointless or 'scientifically just filler matter?'
- Does everything have to have a purpose or can the planet loiter if it wants to?
« Last Edit: 20/03/2013 13:53:46 by ConfusedHermit »


 

Offline evan_au

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 4131
  • Thanked: 249 times
    • View Profile
Re: Do skeletal remains have a purpose or function?
« Reply #1 on: 20/03/2013 18:32:53 »
Many animals like dogs and hyenas love bones - they crunch them up to get to the marrow. This may be why fossilisation is such a rare event.
These marine worms also eat whale bones: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Osedax

Buried bones are eventually eroded and the minerals recycled into new living animals. In some cases the calcium-based minerals of bone are replaced by silica-based minerals, forming a more durable fossil.

Gems are known for their durability, but if they are washed into the sea, and end up in a subduction zone, they will eventually be recycled via the Earth's mantle, reappearing later in a different form as lava from the line of volcanoes that often flanks these subduction zones.

So the Earth is not "filling up" with indestructible bones and gems.

Despite phrases like "Diamonds are Forever", in fact diamond on Earth's surface is thermodynamically unstable, and will (very) slowly turn into graphite.
To avoid this fate, you need to maintain your family jewels under pressures similar to those found 100-300km underground...
« Last Edit: 20/03/2013 19:30:59 by evan_au »
 

Offline Lmnre

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 178
    • View Profile
Re: Do skeletal remains have a purpose or function?
« Reply #2 on: 21/03/2013 21:46:17 »
In addition to carnivores, rodents chew on bones as a source of calcium and other minerals, and plants also absorb nutrients from bones.

source: The Human Bone Manual
 

The Naked Scientists Forum

Re: Do skeletal remains have a purpose or function?
« Reply #2 on: 21/03/2013 21:46:17 »

 

SMF 2.0.10 | SMF © 2015, Simple Machines
SMFAds for Free Forums