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Stepping into Britain. The first human colonisation of northern Europe


Dr Nicholas Ashton – British Museum, Dep. Prehistory and Europe

Earth Sciences Seminar Room  (Basement, WEB 05, the previous Mineralogy Seminar Room)


29th April - 4.00 pm


Until 10 years it was thought that the earliest occupation of northern Europe dated to c. 500,000 years ago. Through the Ancient Human Occupation of Britain (AHOB) Project and Pathways into Britain Project, this date has been pushed back to over 800,000 years ago with new evidence from the Cromer Forest-bed Formation on the Norfolk coast.


This talk will discuss the new evidence in particular focussing on the fieldwork at Happisburgh and the recently discovered footprints from this site. This evidence will be discussed within a European context and how humans survived for the first time in cooler northern latitudes.


Flett Lecture Theatre, NHM


Thursday 8 May 14.30–16.00 (with training sessions in the morning and after the seminar)


As part of the annual Natural History Museum Pest Management Day, Robert Child  will give a talk about the new European Biocides Directive.


Robert Child has extensive experience as a professional research chemist and was the Head of conservation at the National Museum of Wales, Amguedddfa Cymru. He combines those with an expertise on the practical applications of  Integrated Pest Management (IPM) programmes in cultural institutions. His talk will give an overview of current IPM practices and the impact that the new biocides directive might have on this essential tool for collections preservation.



  • Robert Child (former Head of Conservation at the National Museum of Wales)


Training sessions by NHM IPM Co-ordinators (0900, 1100, 1730)

  • Armando Mendez, Special Collections Information Assistant
  • Suzanne Ryder, Collections Manager


Who should attend?

The seminar is open to all museum professionals. We also welcome colleagues from other institutions who would find the seminar of interest. There is no booking fee and only large parties need to notify the organiser for catering purposes. Tea and coffee will be available in the lobby area after the talk


What will I hear?

Update on new European Biocide Directive. If you are interested in attending the seminar or one of the hour long NHM internal training sessions (9.00, 11.00, and 17.30) where you will learn about Natural History Museum IPM please book a place by emailing:


Collections seminar flyer 08 May image.jpg

A woolly bear you wouldn’t want to find! Woolly bear is the common name of the larvae of the Varied Carpet Beetle – Anthrenus verbasci They eat dried insect specimens, bird and mammal skins, textiles (especially woollen ones) and the animal glue used in old book binding.

© The Trustees of The Natural History Museum




Suzanne Williams

Department of Life Sciences, NHM

Wednesday 30 April 11:00


Sir Neil Chalmers seminar room, Darwin Centre LG16 (below Attenborough studio)

The deep-sea accounts for approximately 60% of the Earth's surface, and yet little is known about its rich diversity. This fragile ecosystem is under threat from habitat destruction and over-exploitation from fishing and mining ventures. It is vital we learn more about the diversity of the deep-sea biota and their evolution before these habitats suffer further destruction.


Understanding their evolution involves answering significant questions such as how have deep sea organisms adapted to cope with the demanding nature of this extreme environment, where problems include high pressure, limited food resources, low light and the difficulty of producing and maintaining a protective shell.

A new species of deep-sea trochid


I investigate the effects of three separate factors and their effects on diversification in two families of deep-sea gastropods: 1) global climate change, 2) tectonic events and 3) key innovations including the loss of eye function and changes in trophic level.


For more information on Suzanne's research, see her project pages.


The Palaeontographical Society – 8th Annual Address


Dr Richard Edmonds (Jurassic Coast Heritage Centre) - "The Jurassic Coast: fossils, history, value, and management".


Wednesday 16th April – 4 pm (following immediately from the AGM).


Flett Lecture Theatre, The Natural History Museum, London


Tea and coffee from 3:30 pm.


Free to attend – all welcome.


The Dorset and East Devon coast was designated as a World Heritage Site in 2001 on the grounds that it contains the most complete and continuous exposure of sedimentary rocks through the Mesozoic anywhere in the world. Those rocks record virtually one third of the evolution of life including the age of the reptiles. These interests are maintained by erosion which itself forms the third element of the Outstanding Universal Value of the Site, being superlative examples of coastal processes from spectacular landslides to a barrier beach and erosion along a concordant and discordant coast. The principle threat to the site is the construction of coastal defences and we support Natural England and work closely with coastal engineers to try to find pragmatic solutions where potential conflicts do arise.


The second area of work is the management of the fossil collecting interest along the coast. There is a long history of collecting and collectors have and continue to demonstrate their invaluable role in the recovery of fossils from the very process that exposes them, erosion. The fossils, particularly in West Dorset, are also a fabulous and sustainable resource to engage and excite the public in the Earth sciences and places such as the Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre and Lyme Regis Museum run regular and extremely popular guided walks which are enthusing younger generations.


Our approach to collecting is based on the national guidance provided by Natural England, one of responsible collecting. We have developed that approach through the West Dorset fossil collecting code of conduct and also benefited from Heritage Lottery funded projects such as Collecting Cultures, which has helped enhance museum collections and secure specimens of great scientific importance. Our approach is not perfect and we do not claim that it is. The main issues is the acquisition of specimens of key scientific importance and this relates to funding, capacity within museums and differing ambitions between those parties involved and this will form the major part of the presentation.


EARTH SCIENCES SEMINAR ROOM Tuesday 8th April - 4.00 pm

Javier Cuadros, Department of Earth Sciences, Natural History Museum, London


Confinement appears to be essential at the mineral-microbial interface and has an effect on both, microbial development and mineral formation. The role of confinement starts before life itself. Prebiotic molecules had to be concentrated from water or gas and "confined", possibly within clay interlayers, where they could react, be protected from adverse physical and chemical conditions, and perhaps also where specific reactions were catalysed.


Microorganisms frequently confine themselves within organic or inorganic walls for a number of reasons such as protection and feeding. They build exopolysaccharide capsules, burrow into mineral grains, etc. Close contact or confinement within mineral grains is arguably the habitat of the largest portion of existing microorganisms.


Microbial confinement has a feed-back effect on minerals. Microbes burrowing into mineral grains contribute to mineral weathering. Confined spaces inhabited by microorganisms, such as burrows, biofilms, exoskeletons of dead microbial algae, have chemical conditions different from the surrounding environment and impact mineral crystallization. For example, glauconite originates largely in connection to biological decay within marine shells.  Microbial activity can thus control to some extent the chemistry, mineralogy and formation rate of the neoformed phases. Clay minerals are obviously affected by microbially-mediated confinement of mineral-solution systems, as they are typically formed in the range of conditions in which these processes take place.


For additional details on attending this or other seminars see