YOU might walk past the beautiful structures pictured below without paying them much attention.
But one Bendigo scientist found them fascinating, and his insights are still shaping our understanding well over a century later.y
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That man's legacy is not confined to science, either.
Bendigo historians are revisiting Paul Howard MacGillivray's achievements as they build the case to turn McCrae Street's heritage-listed TAFE buildings into a museum.
That museum would be at the same site that MacGillivray helped transform into a world-renowned 19th century natural history museum.
The museum fell into ruin during decades of neglect but at one stage boasted everything from rare geological specimens to stuffed Tasmanian tigers and even, the story goes, a dead dodo.
Museums Victoria has given the Bendigo Weekly an insight into MacGillivray's surviving legacy.
That includes about 50 "type specimens" - the examples of a species every other scientist uses to work out what they are looking at.
Click on the image below to see more of MacGillivray's work
MacGillivray specialised in bryozoa, which are tiny sea creatures that create intricate, coral-like structures, the museum's invertebrate palaeontology collection manager Rolf Schmidt said.
"A lot of people haven't heard of them, but they are quite significant around Victoria, both in the fossil record and more recently," he said.
"You're bound to have seen some without knowing that's what you were looking at. They are often found on beaches or in cliffs around the coast.
"They are only half a millimetre thick but they clone themselves into colonies and their lime skeletons make up a lot of the rocks around here."
MacGillivray was a giant of late-19th century science whose day job was at his Bendigo medical surgery.
"In his lifetime he was recognised as being quite a good scientist and I think he might have been highly regarded overseas as well," Dr Schmidt said.
MacGillivray had many talents and one that appears to have been the sharpest was his capacity for detailed drawings of specimens, at a time when photography was not the norm.
"When you look at other publications from the 19th century, they can be a little bit dodgy. Things are sometimes simplified or stylised, so it can be very hard to match drawings with specimens," Dr Schmidt said.
"But MacGillivray's drawings are so exquisitely detailed. They are so close to the original specimens that we can easily match drawings to the museum's specimens."
Dr Schmidt said MacGillivray's care extended to the specimens he collected.
They were carefully arranged in wooden slides complete with ornate decorations in a way that modern-day scientists simply do not have time to imitate today.
"Some researchers had even more elaborately constructed slides," Dr Schmidt said.
"These days we just use plastic, so we are certainly less stylish, shall we say.
"Here at the museum, we have such a volume of material that we have to balance doing things as efficiently as we can while being as careful as possible.
"So we look back at those really nicely done slides with a bit of jealousy."
Unfortunately, not all of MacGillivray's legacy has been so carefully preserved.
Only a fraction of geological specimens from the Bendigo museum he helped found were set aside for Museums Victoria.
The rest appear to have vanished.
The Bendigo Weekly and its sister paper the Advertiser are in the midst of an ongoing investigation into what happened to some of the more important pieces.
Many rotted or fell apart, others were sold, given away or even tossed away as rubbish.
They were given away voluntarily and should not be considered public property anymore.
But some pieces need to be surrendered to the authorities, assuming that members of the public still have them.
Last March, the Bendigo Advertiser published evidence showing that at least six Indigenous Ancestors' skulls were donated to the Bendigo museum in the 1890s.
The paper is yet to find evidence of where they ended up, but one witness has come forward to say they saw two skulls believed to be Indigenous remains at the Bendigo TAFE building in 1960.
The remains were likely given to Bendigo's original museum without Indigenous people's knowledge or consent.
Many 19th century Australian accounts of museums include details of Indigenous Ancestors' remains being dug up by farmers and other members of the public.
Newspaper advertisements included auctions of Indigenous people's remains and articles outlined chance discoveries that were not always treated with respect.
The Weekly and Advertiser are yet to find evidence of where the six Bendigo museum skulls ended up but urge anyone who has one to surrender it to the Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Council.
That group is the only one that can legally keep Ancestors' remains, under the direction of Traditional Owners themselves.
Know more? Contact journalist Tom O'Callaghan at email@example.com
This story is another in the Bendigo Weekly's regular history series WHAT HAPPENED?
The Weekly would like to thank the Clan MacGillivray Society of Australia's Euan McGillivray for his advice as this story was formed.
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