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Dinosaur skeletons are in danger of becoming extinct – because of the sun.

It was around 200 million years ago that dinosaurs roamed the earth, they probably were just one of the few creatures that existed in those times. Eventually they became extinct, the exact reasons for this are not fully know, but it is now believed in some circles, backed by new research, that two warming pulses in Earth’s ocean temperatures corresponded to the times of both the volcanic eruptions and the giant impact that wiped out dinosaurs. In other words it was climate change!

Skeletons of these creatures have been found over the years and one of the biggest collections is in the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, but could it be that history is repeating itself? The building is a magnificent example of Victorian architecture, but the roof of the building began to deteriorate and the glass panes which make up the roof were covered in dirt accumulated since it was first built in 1859, this protected the exhibits from the effects of damaging sunlight and heat.

This damage from the exposure of high levels of UV light is causing ‘rapid and irreversible damage to specimens, so a solution has had to be found. When contacted a spokesperson for the museum commented: “Removing 150 years of dirt from the glass tiles that line the building’s roof has let in so much sunlight that the museum’s priceless specimens are suffering “rapid and irreversible” damage”. Recent hot weather has caused interior temperatures at Oxford University’s Museum of Natural History to rise to 44C (111F), making it as hot as the Sahara Desert. The recommended maximum temperature for collections at the museum is also understood to be 25 degrees (77F).

Because tiles from the museum tower were coming loose and falling on the glass roof, previously it had been decided to protect the glass with a film, specifically to protect the glass and not reduce UV levels, or issues connected with sunlight, but it did have that effect. Plans have been drawn up to replace the film, but in another twist to the story, in an embarrassing series of disclosures, the university has admitted that it will be unable to apply the film to a large area of the roof, as it does not want to pay for the vast cost of erecting scaffolding over the cavernous structure. Instead, it is drawing up separate plans to install a new air conditioning system, in a bid to bring temperatures down. Would solar blinds that operate automatically not be the answer we wonder?

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