Thursday, 20 October 2016

Microfossil Madness

This August, September and October I have been continuing with the microfossil side of my research. I’ve been really luck to work with Hattie Dulson and Levi Curry, who are continuing with their master’s project research at the University of Leicester, working with me to write up their results into a paper. We are seeking to understand whether the microfossil assemblages that occur in different sedimentary rock types are different or similar. This can tell us about the ancient ecosystems that existed in different types of habitat such as lakes or rivers, in the early Carboniferous. So far the results are really promising!

Hattie Dulson picking for microfossils

An example slide containing vertebrate microfossils of the 0.25 mm size fraction of a sample

Recently I’ve had a new volunteer, Catherine Langford, who has started processing through the samples from our excavation in Chirnside in July 2015. This work will be integrated with my sedimentology studies of the site to understand how the environment changed through time. Six different samples from the site have been processed, sieved, dried and picked through. So far Catherine has found a range of different vertebrate microfossils, plants, arthropod fragments and ostracods. Its wonderful thanks to the help of volunteers to be able to get a really detailed insight into these environments that people new very little about before the TW:eed Project started.

Catherine Langford examining microfossil specimens

The Chirnside site is important because it is where the famous Ribbo tetrapod was discovered, by the late Stan Wood. Our excavation there last year also found a range of other fossils including arthropods, wonderful plant specimens, fishes, bivalves and ostracods. The sedimentology of the site is really interesting and the fossils are preserved in a similar rock type to that seen at our main site and in the borehole. You can see a slideshow of the 2015 excavation on the TW:eed Projectwebsite.
The 2015 excavation, near Chirnside
Ribbo, displayed in the Fossil Hunters exhibit, the specimen is around 90 cm in length
Until next time