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Brachiopod and Cephalopod collections blog

3 Posts tagged with the fossil tag
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Over the weekend as you may have noticed if you follow my Twitter feeds (@NHM_Brachiopoda and @NHM_Cephalopoda) I have been on the Isle of Wight. We arrived on a very wet afternoon on Friday 8 November.

 

The main reason for our trip was to participate in the Dinosaur Isle Museum's "Blast from the Past" event which gathers local collectors, universities and museums together to talk to the public about palaeontology, fossil collecting and metal detecting.

 

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Me with our display of cephalopods.


Me and my collegues - Dr Martin Munt, Dr Lorna Steel, Dr Christine Stullu-Derrien, Dr Ria Mitchell and Zuzanna Wawrzyniak - had a stall showing the diversity of fossil cephalopods through time and the plant and arthropod fauna of the Rhynie Chert. Lots of people came to talk to us, asking questions about the specimens and bringing their own fossils for us to identify.

 

On Monday Christine came back to the Museum as she's very busy at the moment but the rest of us stayed on the Isle of Wight to do some fieldwork. We wrapped up warm with lots of layers and waterproofs and braved the weather on Yaverland beach near Sandown. I found some dinosaur ribs and a fish vertebra.


When we went up to Dinosaur Isle that is close by for lunch, we realised our waterproofs had failed and we were all utterly soaked so instead of going back out into the dire weather we were invited to visit the Isle of Wight off-site store to have a look at their collections.

 

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Our group on Yaverland beach getting rather wet and windswept.

 

Alex Peaker and Martin New of Dinosaur Isle showed us lots of wonderful fossil plants, dinosaurs and invertebrates while Lorna took the opportuinty to have a look at their fossil crocodiles.

 

On Tuesday the weather was much better and we took a trip to a Pleistocene mammal locality on the east of the island called Saltmead Beach, which is near Newton. Luckily the military firing test zone was not in action that day as we had to cross it in order to get to the beach. After a long walk across a water-logged field and down the beach we finally made it to the site. Lots of bone fragments were found, most likely from bison. These will be passed along to our fossil mammal curator.

 

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Left: Lorna and Zuza looking for Pleistocene bones.

Right: The beach at Saltmead near Newtown.

 

 

After lunch we visited an Eocene site known as the insect limestone. Here there were pieces of the limestone strewn on the beach which you can then break open with a hammer. If you are lucky you may find insects such as ants and beetles or even fossil plant remains. In our case, Zuzanna was the lucky one as she found a lovely beetle that our arthropod curator was very excited to recieve for the collection.

 

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Left: Ria breaking up the limestone. Centre: Looking carefully for tiny insects.

Right: The insect limestone.

 

When we got back to the house Zuzanna started the process of removing the salt from the bison bones we had found. She did this by soaking them in tap water overnight to draw the salt out. In the process, however, a small shore crab emerged from one of the bones! We put it in a tupperware tub (with no lid) with some seaweed from the bone and sea water from the sample bag. In the morning on the way back to the ferry we released him in a suitable pebbly location with seaweed.

 

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Left: The crab we rescued
Right: I'm about to release him!

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On Saturday 7 September my colleague Dr Tim Ewin and I travelled down (rather early in the morning) to Lyndhurst in Hampshire, where we were participating in the Hampshire Fossil and Mineral show. On arriving with Barry, the department’s trusty Baryonyx, we joined forces with the final member of our team, Dr Martin Munt.

 

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Tim Ewin adding the finishing touches to our stand, under the watchful gaze of Barry.

 

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The Hampshire Fossil and Mineral show poster.

 

Alongside Barry we had a selection of lovely new acquisitions, which Tim has collected from trips to Oklahoma and New York State. I was telling people about our planned trip to Morocco and what we hoped to collect while there (come back soon for blog posts on this from me and Emma Bernard).

 

The show itself had lots of stalls selling some beautiful fossils and minerals. There were also people selling books, and I bought myself a slightly battered copy of “A manual of mollusca” by Samuel Pickworth Woodward from 1880!

 

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Some of the stalls selling beautiful minerals and fossils.

 

Alongside us there were stands from other museums and local councils, including Dinosaur Isle on the Isle of Wight and Christine Taylor from Hampshire County Council who had a wonderful patchwork quilt showing the geology of Hampshire!

 

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Martin New and Alex Peaker from Dinosaur Isle showing off their fossils.

 

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Christine's stunning Hampshire geology quilt (complete with fossils in pockets!).


After speaking to lots of people about all sorts of fossils and doing some identification we packed Barry back up and drove home to London.

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Welcome to my blog!

Posted by Zoe Hughes Jun 20, 2013

As curator of the brachiopod and cephalopod collections, I will be alternating my blog posts about each group of organisms. If you're not sure what a brachiopod or cephalopod is stay tuned, as I'll be explaining the ins and outs of these groups and why both are amazing in their own way....

 

In amongst our many cabinets are some rather special historical collections, specimens known as types, and lots of other equally amazing treasures. I'd really like to use this blog to show you around the collections I look after, which are held "behind the scenes".

 

If you follow the collections' Twitter feeds (one each for brachiopods and cephalopods) you will be aware that on a Friday I participate in #FossilFriday. If there's a specimen featured there that warrants more explanation I will do so here.

 

Sometimes I go out to fossil fairs as a representative of the Museum to talk to the public about the wonderful specimens I look after. I also go out collecting on field trips. When I'm out of the Museum doing these activities I will share what I've been up to.

 

Keep reading to find out just what I get up to as a curator here and explore with me the wonders of the collections!

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Getting stuck into fieldwork in an Oxfordshire quarry.