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I have just returned from the 16th IBA meeting, held in the Palazzo delle Scienze, 10-16 June. The meeting is held every three years and this one was the turn of the University of Catania, Sicily. Antonietta Rosso (Profesor of Palaeontology in the Dipartimento di Scienze Geologiche, Universita'degli Studi di Catania), jointly with Rossana Sanfilippo, organised the meeting and was our host. And they have done it really well.


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Statue at the main entrance of the Palazzo delle Scienze, Catania, Sicily


It started on Monday 10 June with a session on Bryozoan Taxonomy, which was a really good beginning.

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We are welcomed to the meeting


On the same day we had a reception - a cheese-party - in the lovely Botanical Garden of Catania, which was founded by a Benedictine monk, Francesco Tornabene Roccaforte (1813-1897) in 1858.


The Botanical Garden of Catania


We have enjoyed a nice conference with 82 participations from many different continents. It is a wonderful opportunity to meet bryozoologists and to get to know their latest research. Since I joined the IBA, this group has become more and more international, and now includes students from the Middle East.


My own presentation was on Tuesday 11 June in the Cenozoic Bryozoans session and was about the Pliocene Bryozoans from Gran Canaria. This research started several years ago with a field work trip to Gran Canaria where Juan Francisco Betancort [Tachi] and Joaquin Meco, both of them from the Univeristy of the Las Palmas of Gran Canaria [ULPGC], showed us the locations where Sir Charles Lyell (1797-1875) collected fossil invertebrate fauna in order to falsify Leopold von Buch's (1774-1853) catastrophic theory of Craters of Elevation.



The first slide of my presentation on Pliocene bryozoans from Gran Canaria



Another slide from my presentation with taxonomical information


Some of the taxa found in the Pliocene fauna are still present in the Mediterranean Sea today. They allow us to infer the recolonisation of the Mediterranean from the North Atlantic, after the Messinian desiccation and subsequent flooding. There is an illustrative video on the BBC Earth YouTube channel that is related to this.



BBC video on Messinian desiccation


On Wednesday 12 June, we visited the archaeological area of Neopolis and the archaelogical museum, Paolo Orsi, which is very close to the Madonnina delle Lacrime in Syracuse. We even found bryozoans on some of the sculptures at the Museum!

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Left: Neopolis. Right: Realistic image of an old fisherman at the Paolo Orsi Museum


We continued our visit by walking around Syracuse. What a lovely city! I have to highlight the famous Cathedral of Syracuse, and the temple dedicated to Athena. Finally, we finished the day with a wonderful Italian-Sicilian dinner by the Mediterranean.


2013-06-11 10.32.01 (Custom).jpgView of the Piazza Duomo, Syracuse


The next day, I visited the Geological Museum in the Dipartimento Scienze Geologiche of the Universita Degli Studi during a meeting break guided by Rosella Bruno. It keeps hundreds of specimens and two of them caught my attention. One of the original specimens was a dwarf elephant skeleton found in the Grotta di Spinagallo, near Syracuse. The other one was a faked fossil of a recent dog.


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Geological Museum entrance


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Left: Elephas falconeri, a dwarf elephant from Syracuse. Right: a faked fossil of a dog


On Friday 14 June our host Antonietta Rosso gave a talk on recent Mediterranean bryozoans, open shelf soft bottom bryozoans from the Ciclopi Marine Protected Area (E. Sicily, Mediterranean) and we finished the day with a concert at the Palazzo Biscari, considered the most beautiful and well kept palace in Catania. It is the kind of palace that makes you feel to live in other times!


2013-06-14 14.43.50 (Custom).jpgAntonietta Rosso during her talk on recent Mediterranean bryozoans


It has been a really nice conference with many kind of details, starting from the dinner by the sea, continuing with the tours and finishing with the closing dinner. Thank you so much for this 16th IBA Meeting and congratulations to the organisers and speakers!