Episode 102: Small Shelly Fossils

Between the weird and wonderful rangeomorphs of the Ediacaran Period and the world-famous palaeocommunities of the Burgess Shale, the ‘Early Cambrian’ is host to a ‘waste basket’ of fossils untied by their small size and shelly construction. These small shelly fossils (SSFs) aren’t just a single group of animals, but represent several different invertebrate phyla. Further compounding the difficulty of their identification, each SSF, termed a ‘sclerite’, is part of a larger composite skeleton known…

Continue reading


Episode 101: Organic Preservation of Dinosaur Bone

Fossilisation of organic material was long thought to result in the complete loss of original content. However in the last 20 years, several high-profile publications reported the discovery of proteins, blood vessels, blood cells and even DNA. But for as long as these arguments have existed, so too has a counterargument as to the validity of the discoveries. In this episode, we’re joined by Dr Evan Saitta of the Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago,…

Continue reading


A Look at Prosauropods: The Forgotten Dinosaurs

Melanorosaurus As with most children who are fascinated by dinosaurs, Tyrannosaurus, Triceratops, and Stegosaurus were amongst the first dinosaurs I learnt of. But as I grew older, another group of dinosaurs began to pique my interest, a group that gets little to no attention: the prosauropods. These dinosaurs predated the likes of Brachiosaurus, Diplodocus, and Apatosaurus by 50-75 million years; are less well known; and, to the naked eye, a little bland in appearance. They…

Continue reading


Episode 100: Tiktaalik

One of palaeontology‘s great themes of questioning is the rise of novelty: how new structures and functions arise in specific lineages. In this episode we speak with Neil Shubin, Professor of Organismal Biology at the University of Chicago, who has been studying novelty in the context of the vertebrate transition from water to land. Neil studies the fossil record of early tetrapods, the first vertebrates with limbs, to understand what changes underpinned this great transition.…

Continue reading


Megalodon and Marine Megafauna

Undoubtedly, Megalodon is the world’s most famous extinct shark is and in this episode, we hear everything we know about this taxon, its ecology and how it got to be so big. Its ultimate extinction is also considered, not in isolation, but placed in the wider context of the entire marine ecosystem. Joining us is Dr Catalina Pimiento of  Swansea University. Dr Catalina Pimiento and a Megalodon jaw in the Florida Museum of Natural History…

Continue reading


Episode 98: 10 Tons

From 1:1 scale whales to microfossils scaled up to the size of a house, there are few model-building projects that 10 Tons are afraid to take on. At the helm of this business is Esben Horn and in this episode, he joins us to discuss the process of model building, from concept to museum display. We also talk about some of the exhibitions 10 Tons have led themselves, including the successful ‘Rock Fossils on Tour‘…

Continue reading


Now a British-Canadian palaeontologist! Why I chose to get citizenship

It’s been a while since I’ve posted, primarily because I have been extraordinarily busy, and also because I haven’t felt like I’ve had much interesting to say lately. I’ll have some more science-related posts soon (I hope), but for now, I wanted to talk about something that’s been bugging me a lot lately: my reasoning for getting British citizenship. As some of you know, I recently became a British citizen. I applied in November, received…

Continue reading


Episode 97: Opsins

Opsins are the photosensitive proteins in the eye, responsible for converting a photons of light into an electro-chemical signals. Different opsins react to different wavelengths of light, each corresponding to a different band of colour. In humans, the ‘visible spectrum’ of light (a very anthropocentric term) is covered by three opsins, receptive to red, green and blue wavelengths. Other animals have opsins that are capable of subdividing the ‘visible spectrum’ and responding to a large…

Continue reading


Episode 96: Decapods

Decapods are a group of crustaceans that include such well-known families as crabs, lobsters and shrimp. Whilst crustaceans are known from as early as the Cambrian, we don’t see the first decapods until Devonian. Over the course of their evolutionary history, decapods have remained relatively conservative in their morphology with the exception of some interesting forms in the Mesozoic. In this episode, Dr Carrie Schweitzer, Kent State University, gives us a run-down of the taxonomy…

Continue reading


2018 – Year in Review

Seems like yet another year is drawing to a close. How do they keep passing so quickly? Stop that! Since it’s the end of the year again, I guess it’s time for another year in review about what I’ve been up to. 2018 was a bit of a mixed bag for me. Nothing particularly bad, but also nothing amazingly awesome. The good stuff: A couple of good things that happened this year – I published…

Continue reading