According to About.com, mercury is rarely found on its own in nature. It is extracted from cinnabar, which is mercury(I) sulphide. The raw material is heated to vaporize the mercury, which is collected and contained in its liquid form.
According to About.com, mercury does not become a solid until it is cooled to -39 degrees Fahrenheit. Mercury is used in many items such as thermometers, barometers, and batteries.
According to wikipedia.org, mercury was used to heal bone fractures and to promote longevity in ancient China and Tibet. Mercury is now known to be highly toxic, causing liver and brain damage. It is readily absorbed by the skin and lungs.