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Ribcage Ridge

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Here lies the mighty bantha, killed by its own body weight.

Like an oddly-colored sky with multiple suns or moons, this is one of those surefire ways of letting the audience know that the story has taken them to a world vastly different from our own. Just stick a ginormous monster skeleton somewhere in the scenery, and presto, instant otherworld! Interestingly, the heroes almost never encounter a living monster of that type, or one in an earlier state of decay. Sometimes, dinosaur bones may be substituted to indicate another time period instead of another world entirely.

See also Saharan Shipwreck, Desert Skull, Ribcage Stomach and Elephant Graveyard. For a much larger version of this concept, see Giant Corpse World.



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    Anime & Manga 
  • There are a few God Warior corpses, overgrown with greenery, in the opening landscape of Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind.
  • In the Animal Crossing movie, the cave by the sea contains, sticking out of the wall, an enormous, intact seismosaurus skeleton. In the finale, they climb it to grab one of Gulliver's gears.
  • In Naruto, Madara's hideout (which includes his lab, the statue the tailed beasts are sealed in (most of the time), and his mindless clone of the 1st Hokage) turns out to be in a mountainous area covered in giant animal skeletons of unknown origin. We eventually learn this place is called "Mountains' Graveyard".
  • The most we see of the Inu-no-Taisho in Inuyasha (the father of the main character and his half-brother Sesshomaru) is his gigantic skeleton (his fanged skull visible), albeit covered in equally-humongous armor, looming across the landscape where he supposedly "fell" in battle.
  • In One Piece, one arc features an island with two giant skeletons on it. Although at first, they appear to be just scenery, they turn out to be important plot points. In addition, gigantic monsters are quite common in the series.
  • In Black Clover, the village Hage where Asta and Yuno are from has a massive skeleton of the demon god that the first Wizard King defeated.

    Card Games 
  • In the Magic: The Gathering backstory, we have the Talon Gates, what appears to be a pair of giant pointy rocks off the coast of Madara. They're really the ribs of a leviathan planeswalker killed by Nicol Bolas.
    • Art previews for Khans of Tarkir reveal that a major scenery element for some cards, such as the "Ugin's Nexus" artifact, is the ribcage of the spirit dragon planeswalker Ugin...who, incidentally, was also killed by Nicol Bolas. Dude enjoys killing big planeswalkers. They fit in quite well on Tarkir, given that dragon bones are regular landscape features.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! has a living example in the monster Temple of Skulls.

    Comic Books 
  • In the X-Men storyline The Brood Saga, readers discover roughly an issue in that the Death World surrounding one of the alien bases was, in fact, the semi-decomposed corpse of one of the Space Whales they had enslaved as Living Ships. To give an idea of the scale, the tips of the ribs poked out of the planetary atmosphere.
  • Mœbius had quite a few decorating the landscape of Arzarch.
  • In Old Man Logan Logan and Hawkeye pass by two different giant skeleton landmarks: Loki pinned under a toppled Manhattan skyscraper, and Giant-Man sprawled over the interstate near the appropriately-named town of "Pym Falls".

    Films — Animation 
  • In Heavy Metal, Taarna the Tarakian flies past a monstrous skeleton of truly ludicrous size, combined with Alien Sky.
  • In the Disney version of The Little Mermaid, Ursula lives in the skeleton of... some kind of big fish thing, overgrown with weeds. (On second viewing, knowing that those weeds are the Baleful Polymorph of everybody else who's lost in the Chain of Deals that Ursula strings them on, the long pan down the hallway into Ursula's lair is horror.)
    • A comic based on the movie showed the creature when it was alive. It was a monster used by a race of eel-people in their Gladiator Games, and Ursula bought its body from them after Ariel killed it.
  • The elephant graveyard in The Lion King.
  • In Quest for Camelot, one of the first things greeting the Kayley and Garret in "Dragon Country" is a giant skeleton that they climb over without realizing what it is. Much later, they have a giant dragon skeleton dropped on them when the ogre finishes eating it.
  • Near the end of the "Rite of Spring" section of Fantasia there is a desert littered with dinosaur bones.

    Films — Live Action 
  • Star Wars, Episode IV: A New Hope has a famous example. C3PO and R2-D2 walk across the desert on Tattooine and come across the bones of a Krayt dragon. It was still there when Lucas went out to film scenes for the prequel trilogy. Anakin and Ahsoka also stumble upon the a Bantha skeleton in Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
    • Spoofed in a Robot Chicken sketch featuring a green water-dwelling creature talking to his wife about finding great things beyond their little lake. As it turns out, he was the creature to whom the skeleton belonged, so things evidently didn't work out for him.
  • Red Sonja has a bridge made of giant vertebrae roped together.
  • In Pitch Black, if the derelict settlement doesn't clue you in that something went Horribly Wrong, the discovery that the "trees" on a hill are actually the skeletal "fins" of several dozen long dead Whale-sized, Slug-like Extraterrestrial filter-feeders in the valley far below should.
  • As Kevin and the dwarves in Time Bandits walk through the deserts of Time of Legends, searching for "the most wonderful object in the world", they pass by myriad skeletons of animals. They discover the Fortress of Ultimate Darkness when they reach an invisible wall, which one of the dwarves, Wally, accidentally shatters by throwing a nearby skull at the leader, Randall, in a fight after being shoved by Randall to the ground.
  • In King Kong (2005), several gigantic bones from Kong's deceased relatives lie scattered about near his mountaintop cavern.
  • The title characters encounter some on an alien planet in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie. They turn out to be Dem Bones.
  • Huge sauropod ribcages and bones are encountered by the heroes of The Lost World: Jurassic Park near the ruins of the facilities of Site B.
  • Pacific Rim shows Kaiju skeletons being incorporated into buildings, most noticeably in the aptly-named Bone Slums of Hong Kong, where an entire shantytown is housed within the titanic skeleton of a dead monster. The skeletons are just too heavy to move, and more than strong enough to support buildings.
  • The action of Godzilla (2014) is set into motion when Serizawa finds a cave where the walls are supported by the fossilized remains of a member of Godzilla's species that was infested by likewise fossilized "MUTOs".
  • In Kong: Skull Island, a major battle against the skullcrawlers takes place amid the bones of Kong's family and other tremendous beasts.
  • In Monster Hunter (2020), Alpha Team discovers a monstrous rib cage poking out of the sand in the desert. when they stop to examine it, they are attacked by a Diablos. The rib cage (and the wrecked vehicles) serve as major landmark for the rest of the film.

  • The desert surrounding Rak Cthol in The Belgariad was once a shallow sea. When it was drained, the enormous serpents that called it home were left behind and died, leaving skeletons in the black sand.
  • The city of New Crobuzon in Perdido Street Station contains a neighborhood (Bonetown) entirely inside the ribcage of some monstrous beast. Said beast is most certainly some stripe of Eldritch Abomination, given the following: 1. All attempts at removing The Ribs fail. 2. All attempts at building over the ribs fail, with building just not going right and completed construction just suddenly collapsing for no reason, despite being brand new and structurally sound. 3. Tools used in construction projects against The Ribs always malfunction, break, and wear out supernaturally quickly and often. 3. Workers involved in such projects report feeling unsettled, and frequently suffer horrific nightmares and visions. Often, workers just suddenly disappear without a trace...
  • A large dinosaur skeleton is seen in the Desert in one of the later Dinotopia books.
  • SF/Fantasy writer Lucius Shepard has a series of stories about people living in towns on and around the body of a gigantic dragon — who isn't entirely dead.
  • In Ender's Game, when Ender kills a giant in a game designed by Battle School to test the students' psychology, the giant's body is left to rot. Every time he comes back it's a bit different — the bones get grown over, until the rib-cage forms a valley and the legs two long hills. Someone even comes along and builds a village into the skeleton. Later, after the war is over, he learns that the Buggers built an identical landscape on one of the planets the humans colonized and hid a cocoon containing their last queen in it.
  • In Tunnel in the Sky, Rod and Roy scout the countryside looking for a new colony site. They find a beach of bones on the shores of a dead sea. There are millions of bones lying there; some ancient and worn, others with gristle still clinging on, but with no actual carcasses in sight.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, the Ironborn tell stories of how the legendary Grey King killed the sea dragon Nagga and built his hall from her rib cage. Whether the stories are completely true or not, the petrified, building-sized rib cage remains; they treat it as holy ground and crown their kings there.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In an episode of Space: 1999, our heroes wind up on a planet where the only signs of animal life are big weird skeletons scattered about the place. The story revolves around the fact the plants on this planet teamed up and killed all the animals, so it's not quite just scenery in this incidence.
  • Some made-for-TV movie with Jack and the Beanstalk as the back-story had a shot of a dragon on a hill in the Giant's realm in the flashback, and the same shot of its skeleton when said realm is revisited in the present.

  • Many creation myths describe gods creating the world itself from the remains of colossal monsters killed in battle at the beginning of time. In Norse Mythology, for instance, mountains were formed from the bones of Ymir, the first and biggest of the frost giants, and his skull became the sky itself.


    Tabletop Games 
  • 7th Sea: The material for the Eisentown of Freiburg features a whole city ripe with this trope. One dragon skeleton makes the biggest bridge in town, another one the biggest tower and the last one is used as the cathedral.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • In Planescape, one whole layer of Hell is covered with (partially still alive) body of its former ruler, the bones forming giant mountain ranges. Likewise, the Outlands' portal town to Hell, the aptly named Ribcage, is built within the ribs of something huge and unidentified.
    • A memorable adventure from Dungeon Adventures took place in a tunnel-complex that was dug out in and around a gigantic, buried dragon skeleton. Its cranial cavity and ribcage were two of the rooms in the place.
    • The short-lived domain of Daglan, from the Ravenloft adventure Feast of Goblyns, featured huge ribs and femurs jutting out of the ground as part of its "local color".
  • Warhammer: Age of Sigmar: After he died, the skeletal remains of the titan Behemat continued to dominated the landscape of the land where he fell — his ribcage, for instance, houses a large commercial hall.

    Theme Parks 
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at the Disney Theme Parks has Tyrannosaurus the end. Doubles as a Shout-Out for the attraction it originally replaced at Disneyland, the Mine Train Thru Nature's Wonderland, which featured the same skeleton.
  • So does the Camp Jurassic playground at Universal's Islands of Adventure.
  • At the American Museum of Natural History, one of the dioramas is of a whale skeleton on the ocean floor, covered in sea snow.

    Video Games 
  • EverQuest has this in the Field of Bone, featuring a giant reptilian skeleton jutting derelict from the ground.
  • In Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards, one stage has Kirby exploring an underground cavern where part of the scenery is made of fossils. One of the titular Mineral MacGuffins is inside a reptilian's mouth.
  • Banjo Tooie features a stage based (very loosely) on the Mesozoic era and features many different fossils embedded on the ground and walls. A bit of Fridge Brilliance when you realize some dinosaurs were dead as long, to others, as they have been dead, to us.
  • One of the most notable examples in the Monster Hunter franchise comes in Monster Hunter 4 with the Primal Forest map — one area is entirely overshadowed by the giant ribcage of some sort of gigantic serpentine monster. The secret starting location for this map is located on top of one of the ribs that has snapped loose from the rest of the ribcage, and is easily large enough for a full party of 4 hunters.
  • Many stages in Wario Land: Shake It! feature dinosaur bones.
  • Guild Wars: The Crystal Desert is full of them, which the lore handwaves as the remains of the now-extinct 'Great Giants', presumably unrelated to the game's smaller elephant-sized modern giants. Also present in the Desolation.
  • Rather common in World of Warcraft. There are several enormous kodo skeletons in Tanaris desert, a giant snake skeleton off the coast of Stranglethorn Vale, a skull of what is apparently one of the Old Gods in Darkshore (with a glowing Titan sword still embedded in it) and two giant naga-like creatures in Desolace. That's just the most famous ones, listing em all would take forever. The kodo graveyard in Desolace and the Dragonblight (dragon graveyard) in Northrend are obviously chock full of them, too. The biggest one in the game is probably off the coast of the Dragonblight, which is large enough to be seen on the map. Not as an icon like most large or important things, but as a skull and skeleton itself.
  • At the very end of Iji, we see the bodyarmor of an Annihilator.
  • Planescape: Torment had a desert map about two-thirds into the game that was mostly taken up by a giant, half-buried skeleton. (It appears to be a colossal bear.) An important NPC built a rather nice keep for himself inside the skull.
  • One of the things that defined the various Myst ages.
    • Used as part of a Continuity Nod. The Age of Riven contained a species of angry purple Moby Dick known as the wahrk, as well as a sort of wormhole, the Star Fissure, that was turning the Age into a vacuum and destroying the universe. A key part of the endgame reveals that jumping into the Star Fissure is survivable and is the only way you can get back to Earth. In Uru — in the present-day — you start out the game in the New Mexico desert and determine that this must be around where the wormhole ended, because hey, giant wahrk skeleton!
  • The escape tunnel in the first Alone in the Dark (1992) looked like a spine with ribs.
  • The Sims:
    • There's a dinosaur skeleton in the desert of MySims. However, possibly all it indicates is the sort of stuff you can get digging around there.
    • A giant dinosaur skeleton is on the Uncharted Isle from MySims Kingdom.
  • Sonic 3D Blast has several dinosaur skeletons embedded in the walls of Diamond Dust Zone.
  • Aquaria: There are several big skeletons. A big one in the Noob Cave that can be swim through, the other ones are more in the background, at least one of them is from a creature that can also be encountered alive, and these creatures are indestructible, (for the player anyway) and quite gentle, so that makes it extra sinister.
  • Vexx has one in its second level, Dragonreach. The level is so-called because the giant skeleton is from a dragon, and it looks like it's reaching for the sky. Naturally, you get to clamber around its back and inside its skull.
  • In Dreamfall: The Longest Journey, the rebel camp is situated partly on a colossal skeleton floating the swamp.
  • Starcraft has massive skeletons as part of several scenery sets.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
  • Yoshi's Island DS has several large beast skeletons lying around in the "desert" levels.
  • Final Fantasy Mystic Quest: The entrance to the Bone Dungeon is marked by a giant dinosaur skeleton. You also fight (a smaller) one inside for the big boss battle.
  • Star Fox 64 features a number of these in Titania Arid Desert, foreshadowing the skeletal Boss Fight with Goras at the end of the level.
  • Rayman:
  • In Mass Effect, on one (and only one) of the optional explorable planets there's a giant skull about the quarter of the size of your MAKO. When you investigate it, it adds a map marker, and says that it does not match any species in the Codex.
  • In Spore, these abound in the Creature Stage. In fact, you're encouraged to dig them up, in order to acquire new parts you can use to "evolve" your creature later. They are a lot bigger than even Epic Creatures, and too many of them in one place is often a tip-off that one is in the vicinity. How big you ask? this big. In this one the spider looking guy is a regular epic, and the smaller creature is regular sized.
  • Final Fantasy XI has this in a few areas, like Tahrongi Canyon and the Maze of Shakhrami.
  • Dragon Quest VIII has an entire dungeon inside of a dragon skeleton (with several smaller ones forming the terrain)
  • The Code Lyoko Wii game Quest for Infinity offers a sort of variation; parts of XANA's mechanical monsters (disembodied heads, limbs, etc.) can be found littered about; you get points if you break them by shooting them or jumping on them.
  • Adventure Island had levels like this, and parts of the bridge/spinal column would fall off as your player ran across them.
  • The first Space Quest had an area consisting of a large skeletal ridge in the middle of a desert planet. The player character can walk across the spinal column like a bridge, and as in Adventure Island, a part of the column was cracked. The player can only cross the cracked area twice before it breaks, at which point you had better hope you picked up everything you needed beforehand
    • In the VGA remake, it resembles a Krayt Dragon skeleton from the Star Wars verse.
  • Skull Man's stage in Mega Man 4.
  • Endless Ocean lets you swim through a WHALE skeleton...
  • Serious Sam 2 has them, mostly in planet Kleer. Most of them are found in the aptly named Boneyard level.
  • Patapon has giant skeletons in the desert level which mark very dangerous areas which have damaging lava geysers.
  • Radical Rex has a level called Dinosaur Graveyard, in which you have to climb up huge jumbled dinosaur skeletons. Just watch out for Stegosaurus plates and carnivore claws.
  • Borderlands: Planet Pandora is littered with them. Bandits have turned some into encampments, most notably Titan's End.
  • The Three Horns area in Borderlands 2 is lousy with bits and pieces of massive monster skeletons. Some of them are lying on the ground, but one is coiled threateningly around a mountain peak. There's a subsection called the Marrowfields, so called because of the giant ribs that mark its borders, as if the whole place were actually inside an unspeakably huge skeleton's ribcage. The skeletons are skeletons from dead skags, Kaiju-sized dead skags. Skags so big that they could eat Skagzilla and Dukino's Mom for snacks.
  • Primal: There's a Ribcage Ridge underwater. It's the skeleton of a giant fish, naturally.
  • The first world in Secret of Evermore, a prehistoric-styled jungle, contains a "Mammoth Graveyard" that serves as a battle arena. Sticking out of the unpleasant muck are the remains of woolly mammoths; giant tusks frame the path to the next area.
  • You walk down a spinal column of a giant deceased Dragon in Hades in Quest for Glory V: Dragonfire.
  • In Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, in the Necromancer Abyss, at several points you encounter rock formations that look suspiciously like bones, and then one cave which is clearly a ribcage. Of course those happen to be the fossilized remains of a dragon, which are then reanimated by the Necromancer to serve as the stage's boss: The Dracolich Titan.
  • The final Boss Rush of Primal Rage take place in a tar field littered with dinosaur bones.
  • The plains and mountains of Skyrim are liberally dotted with the ribcages, spines and occasionally skulls of large animals (usually "mammoths", but there a few troll and dragon skeletons lying around). And killing a dragon can cause this instantly (apparently eating draconic souls makes flesh disappear). The skeleton of a whale also serves as a bridge to the Hall of Valor in Sovngarde.
  • Fossil Valley in Chrono Cross, one of the earliest places the player visits, has a gigantic dragon skeleton as part of the background. No live ones are ever encountered because the specific species of dragon is long extinct. (bar one egg that the player can hatch)
  • A variant in Shadow of the Colossus - Returning to the site of a colossus battle shows the corpse of said colossus becoming a part of the environment. The imagery falls more into this trope with larger colossi like Basaran and Phalanx.
  • Stage 4 in the NES port of Life Force has a giant ribcage with a gauntlet of lasers near the end, and a giant skull as the boss.
  • Star Wars: Galaxies had several of these, including the krayt dragon skeleton from Episode IV and a large krayt dragon graveyard on Tatooine, as well as various other large skeletons on Kashyyyk, Dathomir and other planets.
  • In Star Wars: The Old Republic there's a section of the Dune Sea called the Krayt Graveyard with several of these. In the same area, there's also the skeleton of an unfortunate Trandoshan Qyzen's dad. He goes later to pay his respects.
  • In Mask of the Betrayer you have a conversation with the "dead" god Myrkul while the entire party is standing on his breastbone.
  • Skulls Cave in Something. It's a cave filled with lots of bones and it happens to be a reference to Skull Man's level in Mega Man 4. The Charging Chucks have Skull Man head-swaps.
  • Being a prehistoric level, Skelos Badlands from Spyro 2: Ripto's Rage! has lots of these.
  • Veldin from Ratchet & Clank mixes this with Saharan Shipwreck: there's the wreck of a ship early whose circular hull has decompiled such that it resembles the classic ribcage. The effect is helped by the thrusters, which now look like eyes.
  • In Marvel Super Heroes, Shuma Gorath's stage is a massive otherworldly wasteland with the skeletons of strange beings decorating the landscape.
  • In the 2001 game Aliens vs. Predator 2 one of these can be found, although it has to be looked for. It's in an out-of-the-way corner of some rocky wastelands in the Predator's campaign.
  • In Fire Emblem games, large skeletons may appear on desert maps. Some take up two squares on the map, which means they're considerably larger than humans. The most exaggerated example would be the Plegian maps in Fire Emblem Awakening, which all feature huge dragon bones, but the Chapter 10 map takes the cake. It's fought around what little of the gargantuan dragon Grima's ribcage wasn't buried under the ground, but what "little" is still visible is still big enough to take up almost the entire map and have fortresses built on top of some of the rib lengths.
  • In Battleborn, the bones and fossilized scales of enormous dragons frozen eons ago litter the icy moon of Bliss.
  • In Sunless Sea, near the east end of the map is the Gant Pole, which is the skeletal remains of some very large unknown creature sticking out of the sea. While it's unknown how deep the sea is at that point, the bones you can see are much larger and tower much higher than your ship and incidentally, are larger than some of the islands you encounter.
  • Bone-Dry Dunes in Mario Kart 8 has a wall of rib bones that acts as an anti-gravity section.
  • Fossil Falls in Super Mario Odyssey features a giant Triceratops skeleton and its ribcage crowns the top of a waterfall.
  • In Stellaris one potential planetary anomaly is a skeleton that your survey crews initially believed to be a mountain range. It's implied to be an Ether Drake.
  • In Subnautica, there is the Bones Field region of the Lost River. The fields contains a large, dragon-like skeleton. A couple of smaller versions of the same skull and bones have been added as well, and the skeletons of Reaper Leviathans and Sea Dragon Leviathans will be added in the future. It's basically the undersea equivalent of an Elephant Graveyard, and there is Truth in Television, as underwater cavern systems can trap animals that go into them (your PDA even warns you about this fate).
  • Titan Quest has gigantic ribcages as a cavern decoration, along with loose bones and four-horned dragon skulls, with no living monster of a matching appearance. These eventually appear in the Very Definitely Final Dungeon.
  • In Ori and the Will of the Wisps, Howl's Den is littered with the bones and skulls of various unidentifiable beasts, including at least two spinal columns. The Feeding Grounds between the Silent Woods and Windswept Wastes, where Shriek resides, have a similar aesthetic.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • In From Sun to Moon, From Moon to Night, one of the landmarks on a national map is a Titan dragon's skull, which is bigger than the sovereign's castle, even though the rest of the skeleton is buried. Fortunately for everyone, Titans are long extinct.

    Western Animation 
  • The opening of Samurai Jack features Jack swimming through a huge, multi-eyed fish skeleton.
  • All over the face of planet Bone in Shadow Raiders.
  • Wakfu: Yugo stumbles onto the skeleton of a dragon in the desert during episode 21. It takes him some time to realize what it is since he can't use his eyes but only Aura Vision at the moment.
  • Adventure Time had an episode where Finn and Jake carry tarts through a desert wasteland. At some point, they walk in between the bones of this dead, giant creature and climb through its eye socket. Oddly, it seemed that its brain hadn't fully decayed yet.


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