Monday, 31 August 2015

Microfossil Month!

This August was the TW:eed Project’s Microfossil Month at the University of Leicester. With the help of volunteers, we examined many samples from our main field site. The aim was to record the microfossils present in sieved samples, and identify differences in the assemblages present in various rock types and stratigraphic levels throughout the Ballagan Formation.

Eight volunteers from A Level to graduate level worked with me: Matthew, Jake, Rebecca, India, Kate, Rimini, Jonathan and Daisy. During the month they learnt how to process and sieve samples, pick for microfossils, identify specimens and image them on the Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM). We also had time to examine some of the rock samples from our recent excavation site, discovering many fossils such as ostracods, bivalves, fish material and bones.
Some of the volunteers this month, from left to right: Jake, Rebecca, Matthew and Kate.
This was the last summer work experience month of the project for me, and it was really fantastic as usual! With the volunteer help we were able to pick thousands of specimens and find some very rare and important microfossils such as shark scales, fish teeth and bones. This is helping to shed further light on the environments in which the tetrapods lived and which animals and plants they lived alongside. I’m looking forward to discussing our findings at our project meeting next week.

SEM pictures of some of the microfossils from this month, from left to right: an actinopterygian fish scale, a fragment of a rhizodont fish tooth and a megaspore from a Lycopsid-like tree.

Thank you to all the volunteers and staff at the university who supported our research.

Until next time

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