Most of us find skeletons horrific because they are mementos mori, reminders of death. However, Dream Moods, an online dream dictionary, suggests that skeletons can symbolize other things, too:
To see a skeleton in your dream, [sic] represents something that is not fully developed. You may still in be the planning stages of some situation or project.
Alternatively, it may suggest that you need to get to the bottom of some matter. You need to stand up for yourself and your rights. To see someone depicted as a skeleton, signifies that your relationship with them [sic] is long dead.
Some strange skeletons are man-made, such as the “Fiji mermaid’s” skeleton that showman P. T. Barnum pieced together. It was part monkey and part fish, but Barnum passed it off as a siren such as those who harassed and tempted poor Odysseus. Another such skeleton, Live Science’s “Scientists Build 'Frankenstein' Neanderthal Skeleton” article explains, is one that anthropologists are assembling as “the first and only full-body reconstruction” of the Neanderthal “species.” The fossilized skeletal remains of two actual Neanderthals donated most of the bones for the project, the few missing bits and pieces coming from a half-dozen of their peers and a few lucky modern humans' skeletons. As a result of assembling their bony Frankenstein’s skeleton, the scientists learned a thing or two about Neanderthals that they hadn’t known before:
The biggest surprise by all means is that they have a rib cage radically different than a modern human's rib cage. . . . As we stood back, we noticed one interesting thing was that these are kind of a short, squat people. These guys had no waist at all--they were compact, dwarfy-like beings.
The anthropologists also confirmed the scientific belief that modern humans couldn’t have descended from their Neanderthal cousins: “There is no way that modern humans. . . could have evolved from a species like Neanderthal. . . . They're certainly a cousin--they're human--but they're one of those strange little offshoots.
One other fact that the scientists learned is that the Neanderthals were amazingly strong, despite their Hobbit-like appearance: “"If you shook hands with one, he would turn your hand to pulp."
Scientists believe that the discovery of dinosaurs by the ancients resulted in many of the legendary and mythical tales of fabulous and fantastic creatures, as the post on "How to Create Monstrous Monsters" explains. Such beasts are studied by cryptozoologists, whom no one appears to take seriously.
Occasionally, skeletons appear as antagonists in short stories and novels, including Perceval Landon’s “Thurnley Abbey” (1908), George MacDonald’s Lilith (1985), and Ray Bradbury’s “Skeleton” (1943).