York: A Rocky History

Whilst you’re waiting with anticipation for the audio recording to go live on YouTube, here is a link to the PowerPoint slides for the Lifelong Learning public lecture I gave on Thursday 19th of February:


Upcoming Events:

Sat. 14th March 2015, 9.30am-4.30 pm – A Geological History of Britain, University of York.

Sun. 14th June 2015, 2pm and 3.30 pm – Professor Herring’s Natural Hystery of York. Festival of Ideas, York Museum Gardens.

Fri. 18th-Sun. 20th Sept. 2015 – Yorkshire Fossil Festival, Rotunda Museum, Scarborough.

A Very Short History of the Earth

Time Spiral (from Wikimedia Commons)

ChronoZoom – an interactive time scale showing the age of life, the universe and everything (if your computer has the right browser!).


ICS – The International Commission on Stratigraphy (the latest geological timescale can be found here).

William Smith and biostratigraphy (part of a University of California Berkeley series on the history of evolutionary thought).

John Phillips – the Time Lord of York (my article for York Mix).

Absolute dating

A quick introduction to radiometric dating (University of California Berkeley).

How to calculate the age of meteorites (or anything else for that matter).

Rock Around The Clock (Daily Telegraph article on the 4.4 billion year-old zircon crystal from Australia). The scientific paper can be found here.

Fossils & Extinction

From soup to cells (Berkeley introduction to the origins of life on Earth).

Solving Darwin’s Dilemma – Precambrian rocks really do contain abundant fossils (report of 2009 study by scientists at Oxford University).

First Life – David Attenborough tackles the origins of life, including the Precambrian fossils found near his childhood home in Leicester.

Mass extinctions (NHM guide to the “Big Five”). If you fancy a “Big Five” walking tour of London, you can follow my not entirely serious guide.

Prehistoric fossil collectors (article from the Geological Society).

How will humans go extinct? (article on BBC News, 24 April 2013).

Hidden Horizons website (Scarborough-based company run by Will Watts, offering Geology & Natural History Education and Events. Look out for information on the upcoming Yorkshire Fossil Festival).


Bodies of Evidence

Using fossils to examine the origins of animals

I am organizing the Palaeontological Association-sponsored session at the 2013 British Science Festival in Newcastle.

It is called Bodies of Evidence, will run at the Great North Museum on Sunday September 9th, and it is going to be dead great. Literally, as the event will be packed to the rafters with amazing fossils of long-gone creatures.

How do we figure out the origins of animals? What do fossils tell us about the way in which animals evolved different features, such as shells and teeth? And how can we reconstruct what ancient, extinct animals really looked like? Come along to Bodies Of Evidence and we’ll show you!

To whet your appetite, here’s a little taster of the bodies that will be on offer…

Starting with the Cambrian explosion, my palaeontological colleagues from Durham University will take you to Greenland, and the amazing Sirius Passet fossils:

(It's a halkieriid)

What in flippin’ crikey is that?

Professor Mark Purnell and his team from the University of Leicester will offer up some Rotten fish and fossils. If you’re feeling brave, they’ll even let you take a sniff and find out what their experiments smell like!

Progressive stages of decay in the lancelet.

Dr Martin Ruecklin (Leiden University/University of Bristol) will show off his amazing Jaws! Using Synchrotron x-rays he will delve into the origins of our lovely smiles…

Dunkleosteus terelli, an ancient fish much scarier than Jaws.

And as a special bonus, the brilliant model-maker Esben Horn of 10 Tons, Copenhagen, will be bringing along some Heavy Metal and Punk Fossils!

Palaeontology: the new rock and roll!

So come along and inspect our #BodiesOfEvidence on September 8th. You won’t see the fossil world the same way afterwards!