The Fossilympics

Last modified date

With neither the Yorkshire Fossil Festival nor the Olympic Games able to happen this year, and with my academic career coming to an end this month, I’ve decided I might as well do something daft to while away the summer weeks, and have created…the Fossilympics!

Starting on Saturday August 1st 2020, the Fossilympics will run on Twitter, through the Yorkshire Fossil Festival account (@yorksfossilfest). It will feature 13 days of top-strat competition, pitting Ginkgo against Wollemia, stable isotope against stable isotope, and Mesoproterozoic Problematicum against Mesoproterozoic Problematicum.

Ginkgo for gold?
Wollemia for the win?

Over the duration of competition, there will be separate events each day, one in the morning and one in the evening, from Acritarch-ery and Gymno-stics to the Charnio-discus and Decapod-athlon, giving extinct critters more than 20 chances for gold. Far more importantly, though, the #Fossilympics aims to promote as wide a variety of fossils as possible, from right across the biological spectrum, and from throughout geological time. It’s the taking part that counts, after all.

Each event will be run as a 24-hour Twitter poll. As these only allow 4 options, each event only has four competitors, meaning the lucky quartet have a 75% chance of getting a medal. What medal that is, though, will depend on how people decide to vote. And this is where the fossil knowledge of palaeo-Twitter comes into full force, as people – hopefully! – serve up support to enable the crowd to get behind their favourite fossil and cheer it on to gold!


The full Fossilympic schedule can be found below, and I’ll be using the hashtag #Fossilympics20 to provide all the latest updates on Twitter. There might even be a medal table. And we’ll start with the Opening Ceremony, live from Yorkshire, next #FossilFriday, July 31st.

So, for the first vote, what should the #Fossilympics motto be? I’ve come up with two candidate slogans, and am abrogating responsibility to a public vote. Will it be “Tardius, durius, diutius” or “Animale, vegetabile, mineralis”?

Fossilympics 2020 schedule

Saturday August 1st – (AM) Acritarchery; (PM) Javelingula

Sunday August 2nd – (AM) Cycling (road race); (PM) Swimming – 200 Ma

Monday August 3rd – (AM) Gymnostics; (PM) Charniodiscus

Tuesday August 4th – (AM) Stable tennis; (PM) Rowing – single skulls

Wednesday August 5th – (AM) Noderm Pentathlon; (PM) Weightlifting

Thursday August 6th – (AM) Cycliing (track); (PM) Decapodathlon

Friday August 7th – (AM) Taxonomic Wastebasketball; (PM) 444 Ma Hurdles

Saturday August 8th – (AM) Swimming – 100 Ma freestyle; (PM) 100 Ma

Sunday August 9th – (AM) Swimming – 375 Ma front crawl; (PM) 1500 Ma

Monday August 10th – (AM) Beach molluscball; (PM) Pole vault

Tuesday August 11th – (AM) Triathlon; (PM) 800 Ma

Wednesday August 12th – (AM) 50 Ma Butterfly; (PM) Marellathon

Thursday August 13th – (AM) Synchronized swimming; (PM) 4 x 10 Ma relay

Friday August 14th – Final medal table and Closing ceremony.


Earth scientist in North Yorkshire, fossilist on the Cote de Saur. Director of the Yorkshire Fossil Festival and palaeontologist for hire. Can be found twittering and facebooking as @fossiliam.