Episode 117: Decolonising Palaeontology

Lack of diversity is one of the major issues in the sciences in recent times. We’ve discussed diversity in palaeontology in previous podcasts, but in this episode Elsa Panciroli takes a look at the legacy of racism and colonialism in palaeontology and museum collections, and what efforts are being made to address these issues. Colonial attitudes towards people of non-European descent have meant that their natural heritage was often plundered and sent back to Europe…

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Episode 116: Ice Age Palaeoecology

When we think about the Ice Age or the Pleistocene, we generally think of large animals: woolly mammoths trudging through snow, sabre-tooth tigers taking down their next meal, and big bison out on the steppes. These are really interesting things to think about, but what else can we learn from the Pleistocene other than about big animals and their extinction? We can also use the Pleistocene (which is relatively similar to the modern world in…

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Episode 115: Diatoms

Diatoms are a major group of algae found in waters all around the world. As photosynthetic phytoplankton, they are hugely important ‘primary producers’, integral to nearly every aquatic food chain. They are responsible for a large proportion of the world’s oxygen production, with estimates ranging between 20 and 50%. Diatoms are unicellular plants that produce their cell walls, termed frustules, out of silica. These intricate frustules are what we find preserved in the fossil record…

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Working as a lab manager

Wow. It’s been over a year since my last blog post. A lot has happened since then, though not a lot scientifically which is why I haven’t posted much. Not a lot of updates for me other than lots of (failed) applications, lack of publishing, and that little global pandemic throwing everything into disarray… One reason I’ve been pretty busy over the last while is that I had the opportunity to work full time as…

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Episode 114: Horseshoe Crabs

The horseshoe crabs (Xiphosura) are a group of large aquatic arthropods known from the East coast of the USA, and the Southern and Eastern coasts of Asia. Despite their name, they are not actually crabs at all, but are chelicerates (the group containing spiders and scorpions). As a group, the horseshoe crabs possess an extremely long fossil record, reaching as far back as the Ordovician Period, some 480 million years ago. Since that time, they…

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Episode 113: PBS Eons

With palaeontology as popular as it is you will never be short of content online, whether that be articles, blogs, podcasts (of which there are now many others you should also be listening to) or videos. This allows you, the public, to enjoy learning about past life on demand and in a format that best suits you. The only issue with having so many sources of information/ entertainment is that the quality can be highly…

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Episode 112: Extinction of the dinosaurs

The end-Cretaceous (or K-Pg) extinction is one of the best known mass extinctions in Earth’s history, primarily because that is when non-avian dinosaurs disappeared. Although the popular idea is that an asteroid impact was what caused the extinction, the science hasn’t actually been that clear. More recently, a second hypothesis has challenged the idea asteroid as the main culprit, suggesting that huge volcanic eruptions in what is now India called the Deccan Traps was responsible.…

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Palaeocast Art Competition 2020 Results

We had another fantastic art competition again this year! The quality of the 101 entries has been outstanding and we have loved each and every single one of them! Below we have all of entries compiled for you to enjoy with the top 10 and prize winners listed first. #1 and overall winner Young Dimetrodons by Gabriela Grabalska #2 and over 16 winner Triceratops and Cretaceous Birds by Jaan Westphal #3 +90 Armor by R.…

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Episode 111: Diversity in Palaeontology

Palaeontology is not known for being a very diverse science. Looking around the members at any given conference dinner is a pretty telling tale. The stereotype of white, rugged, cowboy-types can be prevalent, and societies such as the Palaeontological Association have been investigating different aspects of diversity in palaeontology through studies and spotlights on diversity. In this episode, in conjunction with the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology (SVP), we investigate issues of diversity in palaeontology, through…

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Episode 110: The Fin-Limb Transition and Early Tetrapod Biodiversity

One of the great themes in palaeobiology is the water-land transition, or how and when the ancestors of today’s four-legged terrestrial animals moved to land. Lines of questioning have included understanding the anatomy and biomechanics of the axial skeleton- head and vertebrae (focusing on biting and swallowing) and the appendicular skeleton (focusing on how the earliest tetrapods walked or swam). Our picture of this story has drastically changed in the last three decades, as new…

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