Monday, 23 March 2015

The TW:eed Project’s amazing ostracods

On Friday I went to the biannual Ostracod Group meeting of The Micropalaeontology Society, at Queen Mary University of London. I presented my findings on the TW:eed Project’s ostracods and discussed their occurrence with fish and bivalves in the Ballagan Formation. Ostracods are small arthropod crustaceans, about 1mm in length, that live in a wide range of water bodies and occur throughout the fossil record of the last 500 million years. All ostracods are interesting, but the ostracods from the TW:eed Project are particularly interesting as it is around this time in geological history when ostracods adapted from living in the oceans to being able to live in brackish and freshwater too. Different species are found in different salinities, which can help us to understand the environment the tetrapods were living in. Click this link to find out more amazing ostracod facts! 
A typical ostracod shell from the Ballagan Formation, approximately 1 mm in length
It was great to meet with other experts in ostracod research and hear about new discoveries. We heard eight talks on topics from ostracod reproduction and shell geochemistry, to ostracods from saltmarshes, lakes, marine settings and those that live under ice. Keynote speaker was Dr Tom Cronin from the US Geological Survey who took us through his vast body of research into modern Arctic climate change and explained how certain ostracods can be used as a proxy for sea-ice cover.
The Ostracod Group of The Micropalaeontology Society
Thank you to Anna March from QMUL for organising the day! We are all looking forward to the next ostracod conference, which will be the 8thEuropean Ostracod Meeting in Estonia in July 2015.

Until next time

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

TW:eed Project YGS meeting a success

This Saturday the Yorkshire Geological Society held a day of talks about the TW:eed Project. The day took place at the British Geological Survey in Keyworth, which allowed participants to view the Norham Core and see some real examples of the rocks which the tetrapod fossils come from. It was a popular meeting, co-organised between the YGS, the Leicester Literary and Philosophical Society, Geology Section and the East Midlands Geological Society, with over 70 participants from across the country.

The day started with a workshop on the Norham Core (led by myself and Tim Kearsey), and tours of the BGS Core Store facility by Mike Howe. In the workshop we highlighted some key parts of the core from the base and the top of the succession, and discussed what the sediments could tell us about the different environments that existed at this time. We also examined some of the fossil-rich intervals that contain some fantastic rhizodont and actinopterygian fossils. Tim and I really enjoyed the opportunity to show people some of the highlights from the core, as it has been so essential to the success of this project. And it brought back some great memories of logging the core and discovering particular exciting horizons within it.
The Norham Core workshop session

Jenny Clack talking about the latest tetrapod finds
In the afternoon there was a series of talks about the project, by Dave Millward, Jenny Clack, Tim Smithson and Sarah Davies. This covered an overview of the project and some of our latest findings on tetrapods, fish and environments. But as we know this is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the research the project encompasses and the conference could well have continued into the night! Everyone there enjoyed hearing about the science the project addresses, with a lot of questions asked and interest from the audience. We all agreed that we’d love to come back next year when the project is nearing completion to do another event.

Thank you to the YGS and others for hosting this event and to everyone who took part.

Until next time