Episode 86: Coal

The Carboniferous (Latin for ‘coal-bearing’) is a period of the Paleozoic Era named after the massive accumulations of coal that were formed globally during this time. These coal deposits were the fuel for the Industrial Revolution and continue to be an important economic resource to this day. For this interview, we asked Standford University’s Prof. Kevin Boyce to introduce us to coal and to tell us how it’s formed and what it’s made of. We…

Continue reading


A palaeontologist turns arthritis researcher

Anyone who’s followed my blog or twitter might have read that after my PhD I managed to get a temporary part-time job as a research assistant in an osteoarthritis lab after I finished. I was extremely lucky to get this position. A week before my viva, the lab PI emailed my PhD supervisor based in Bristol asking if she knew anyone with CT experience that was looking for some work. As I was finishing my…

Continue reading


The Skye dinosaur footprint vandal: Lessons for assault on U.S. National Monuments

One year after a bizarre act of local fossil vandalism on Scotland’s Dinosaur Isle let us consider the value of footprints in the sand and the implications for U.S. Government cuts to national monuments of global paleontological importance. Police Alert! On December 28, 2016, Police Scotland were searching for a tall male in his late 40s to early 50s thought to be driving a white camper van. A crime had been committed on the Isle…

Continue reading


Episode 85: Ichthyosaurs

Ichthyosaurs are large marine reptiles that existed for most of the Mesozoic Era. The most familiar forms superficially represent dolphins, but some earlier ichthyosaurs were more eel like. They could attain huge proportions, with some genera reaching up to 21m long. They were active predators feeding on belemnite, fishes and even other marine reptiles! In this episode, we talk to Dr Ben Moon and Fiann Smithwick, researchers at the University of Bristol, UK. Both have…

Continue reading


Episode 84: Neoproterozoic Acritarchs

Geology, as a subject, has for the most part assumed that there were no fossils to be found earlier than the Cambrian period. In the current day, we’re better-informed and are able to find good records of life before the Cambrian Explosion. Despite this, the structure of the Palaeocast website, with different pages for each period of the Phanerozoic Eon, shows we’re still biased against anything earlier than the Cambrian. We are guilty of lumping…

Continue reading


Things I learned during my PhD – Do’s and don’t’s for students to staff

Anyone that knows me and readers of this blog may know that my PhD did not exactly go according to plan. This started basically exactly half way through my PhD, at the beginning of my 3rd year when my supervisor left, initially temporarily, and then a few months later that turned permanent. I will not talk about what happened in more detail, and this is not what the post is about. My supervisor leaving was…

Continue reading


Get Well Soon, Titanosuchid

Christmas was not particularly kind for one titanosuchid. Published on the day many were receiving gifts and well wishes, this Permian reptile was given the bad news that it was suffering from a bout of osteomyelitis, a form of bone infection, at the time of its death. I have been working on a little side project involving palaeopathologies of late, the lovechild of clinical and veterinary medicine, visualisation techniques and vertebrate evolution. Whilst my focus…

Continue reading


2017 – A big year

As 2017 comes to a close, I am doing my usual reflections on the last year, and it turns out there’s a lot for me to reflect on this year. 2017 was probably the biggest year for me in terms of life-changing events and things going on in my life, and there are a few things that I am super proud of and would like to focus on: I completed my PhD. Obviously this is…

Continue reading


PalAss 2017

The 61st Annual Meeting of the Palaeontological Association is this year held at Imperial College London. We’ll be livestreaming a selection of talks across three days, so nobody has to miss out on this great event. Our schedule is given below, all times are in UTC. If you join the stream late, up to four hours can be replayed. If the stream is interrupted for any reason, please refresh your browser (F5). If problems persist,…

Continue reading


My Favourite Question

Or what a difference a word makes. Words have meaning. That meaning gives them power. Two essentially identical sentences can have entirely different meanings just by changing a single word. In some cases, that word can change how a person sees the world. When I was in University, I was fortunate enough to work for the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology for three summers. All three summers, I was with a program called Day Digs. It was…

Continue reading