Tetrapod World - Science research blog
The Sedgwick Museum's Conservator is providing technical advice & help with field work on a new project funded by the Natural Environment Research Council. The project is a consortium research project led by the University of Cambridge (Prof. Jennifer Clack) with members from National Museum of Scotland, British Geological Survey, University of Southampton & University of Leicester.
The team members will study newly discovered Tetrapods (vertebrates with four limbs), other vertebrates, invertebrates such as millipedes and scorpions and plant fossils from the Scottish Borders. They will also study the sedimentology & geochemistry of the rocks to help understand the climate & environment of the period when the animals & plants lived.
The fossils fill a gap in the fossil record following a mass extinction at the end of the Devonian. This gap is called Romer's Gap after a famous palaeontologist, Alfred Romer, who noticed that many fossils were absent from the Early Carboniferous, the period immediately after the Devonian mass extinction. The gap covers a period of about 15-20 million years.
Tetrapods during the Devonian were fish like and lived in water. After Romer's Gap Tetrapods become land based. What happened during this crucial period of vertebrate evolution has been based on very few fossils until the new specimens were discovered.
The fossils from the Scottish Borders have been found in rocks that fill this 15-20 million year gap and will help in understanding the evolution of the first fully terrestrial ecosystems.
Tetrapod World, a science research blog about the TWeed research project 'Tetrapod World: early evolution and diversity'
Virtual Microscope for Earth Sciences
The Sedgwick Museum has been working in conjunction with the Open University on a project using many different sections of our collections. This new virtual microscope website is now live and contains many Sedgwick Museum samples http://www.virtualmicroscope.org
The possibility that the extinction of the dinosaurs 66 million years ago may have been caused by the eruption of the Deccan lavas in India has been increased by new research, published in the Geological Society of America Bulletin (doi:10.1130/B31167.1).
A view of the Mahabaleshwar escarpment in the western Ghats, India. Just a small part of the 3.6 km thick pile of lavas that flooded over the Deccan region of India some 66 million years ago? (photo copyright Dr Sally Gibson, Dept. Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge)