Monday, 28 September 2015

Team TW:eed visits Brussels

In late September members of Team TW:eed assembled in Brussels to take part in a symposium on Climate Change and Biodiversity Patterns in the Mid-Palaeozoic. On the IGCP 596 website you can watch a movie that explains what the scientific collaboration is all about. They were contributing to a special session on the TW:eed Project. Individual members of the Project have presented papers before at specialist conferences on palaeontology, vertebrate palaeontology and sedimentology, but this was the first time different parts of the Project had been invited to share their results at the same international meeting.
IGCP 596: Climate Change and Biodiversity Patterns in the Mid-Palaeozoic
The symposium was held at the Royal Belgium Institute of Natural Science which is famous for its large collection of dinosaurs discovered at Bernissart in southern Belgium in 1878.
Petra Tonarova from the Czech Geological Survey took this photograph showing Dave Millward, John Marshall, Emma Reeves, Dave Carpenter and Tim Smithson in front of one of the Bernissart Iguanodon skeletons.
John Marshall began the session with a brief overview of the project, emphasising the important contribution the late Stan Wood had made to our discoveries in the Scottish Borders, and the collaborative involvement of many researchers and volunteers from across the UK. Dave Millward, Dave Carpenter, John Marshall, Emma Reeves and Tim Smithson followed with presentations on a range of different topics including the environment of the Borders during the early Carboniferous, atmospheric oxygen levels at the time, the recovery of plant life following the end-Devonian extinction, the palaeoclimate of the early Carboniferous and the rich diversity of fishes and tetrapods we are now finding in Romer’s Gap. Their presentations sparked a lot of discussion, especially in the tea break following the session.

The symposium had attracted delegates from around the world and it was great to be able to share with them some of the many results coming out of the TW:eed Project.

Until next time

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

TW:eed Project Meeting – new discoveries!

Last week we held our 8th TW:eed Project team meeting, this time at the University of Southampton. It was a two day meeting, with one day of talks and another day of round-table discussions and workshops. Every time we have a project meeting it gets more and more exciting, with more results coming in and many publications being prepared.

This time I presented my work on the ‘microfossil month’ and it was a pleasure to discuss our results and our first interpretations of them, after 3 years of working on this every summer with a volunteer team. We also heard for the first time the detailed palynology work of Emma Reeves, who has been studying hundreds of samples from the Norham Core for their spore content. This work is vital in that it can generate a biostratigraphy which we can use to ‘tie in’ our isolated tetrapod field exposures and give them an age range. Andy Ross summarised the findings of the excavation near Chirnside, and Tim Smithson explained some of the new finds from West Virginia. We heard the findings of Master’s research student Fiona Williams from the University of Southampton, who has been studying the evaporite sequences from the Norham Core.

Tim Smithson talking about his recent fieldwork in West Virginia, USA
In the discussion part we talked about our upcoming museum exhibit at the National Museum of Scotland (April 2016), and ideas for the display style and content. We also discussed forthcoming collaborations and research in terms of isotopes and sedimentology. The team are also presenting at a number of conferences this autumn and winter. What will happen after the project finishes in a year’s time? No single answer as yet, but there are many ideas, and it was great to discuss how we are going to take the project forward with future research directions.
Some of Team TW:eed assembled on the library staircase in the National Oceanography Centre, University of Southampton

This week I have been finalising my work on cementstones, writing up manuscripts and spending a little more time in the lab finishing up some of the fascinating microfossil work.

Until next time