Ghosts in the Machine: The Mysterious World of Palaeovirology

Guest Author – James Ormiston
Palaeontology MSci Graduate

How do you do study an aspect of ancient life that doesn’t leave behind fossils? Is it even palaeontology if the thing you’re studying wasn’t technically alive in the first place? After all, that’s what the “onto” part means! These are the problems tackled by the strange sub-field of palaeovirology.

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The Cambrian is the Coolest of all Geological Periods – CHANGE MY MIND

Guest Author – Elvira Piqueras Ricote
Current Palaeobiology MSc Student, University of Bristol

Whenever someone asks what I am studying at university and I reply with “Palaeobiology”, I get one of two possible responses: the first one is a very confused face through which I can see the person’s brain hard at work trying to figure out what that means, it has the word biology in it…but what on earth is Palaeo? The second one is “OH! DINOSAURS!”. Well, let me tell you a secret, I never actually liked dinosaurs. Don’t get me wrong, they are pretty impressive creatures, quite cool to look at, but that’s where my enthusiasm and interest begins and ends.

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In Defence Of Early Mammals – Part Two

Guest Author – Kim Chandler, MSc
2020 Palaeobiology Graduate

In the first part of this blog post, I discussed three early mammals that I found interesting and felt needed a bigger audience of admirers. Below is a continuation of these with four more mammals to persuade you to join team mammal.

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In Defence Of Early Mammals – Part One

Guest Author – Kim Chandler, MSc
2020 Palaeobiology Graduate

When discussing Palaeontology the topics of most interest rarely include mammals earlier than the charismatic megafauna like the woolly mammoth and the saber-tooths. Mammals first appeared in the Late Triassic, evolving from a group of animals called synapsids (such as Dimetrodon). The mammals that were first on the scene in the Mesozoic, are usually dismissed as tiny rodent-like things of little interest, especially when compared to the enigmatic dinosaurs they shared their habitat with. However, these guys are interesting in their own way, either due to the transitionary period of evolution at which they sat, or their ecology. (more…)

Palaeo Pop-Culture: The Inspiring (and Tragic) Story of the Pterosaur Ornithopter

Guest Author – James Ormiston
Bristol Palaeontology MSci Graduate / PalaeoArtist

The road to flight is littered with the snapped airframes, tangled control lines, burnt out engines, and the torn wing fabric of countless victims to gravity’s crushing hand. For every successful attempt by humanity to get a face-full of cloud, there are scores of attempts met with a face-full of mud, grass, tarmac, water, the list goes on.

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BDP Christmas Special 2019

One of the finest traditions of all media at Christmas is to shamelessly rip off a classic bit of literature now in the public domain. A palaeontologist studying this phenomenon over time may well describe it as a long-fuse adaptive radiation; diversity and disparity of the text exploding after copyright expiration. Seeing as it is the holiday season, I thought we’d have a bit of fun with this ourselves whilst still learning about palaeontology. And so, without further ado, I present to you, the BDP Christmas Carol… And no, I can’t believe we’re doing this either.

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In The Field – Polish-Mongolia Expeditions 1963 – 1971 (Part 2)

This is Part Two of a blog about these expeditions – For Part One, follow this link!

Guest Author – James Ormiston
Bristol Palaeontology MSci Graduate / Palaeo Artist

Mongolia’s ancient underbelly had proved so productive that after suspending fieldwork for one year, the Polish returned in 1967 for another three year stint. This was a smaller scale operation, like in 1963, aimed not at excavating but prospecting. They were accompanied this time by only one member of the Mongolian team for each year, joined also by a car and driver. Returning to the Flaming Cliffs in search of Cretaceous mammals, this cluster of mini-expeditions turned out 20 mammal specimens, as many lizards and a crocodilian.

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In The Field – Polish-Mongolia Expeditions 1963 – 1971 (Part 1)

Guest Author – James Ormiston
Bristol Palaeontology MSci Graduate / Palaeo Artist

Of the many countries around the world that have seen palaeontologists scouring their strata for fossils, Mongolia is one of the most intriguing and inspiring. Landlocked and sandwiched between its neighbouring geographical behemoths, Russia and China, Mongolia is itself a very large country. Across 1.5 million square kilometres The Country of Blue Sky’s expanse covers parts of the Altai Mountains in the north, the Gobi Desert in the south, and vast grassland steppes in between. Such a landscape, along with its sparse human population, certainly calls to mind the kind of place where you’d expect to see a small gaggle of sunburnt scientists under their wide-brimmed hats chipping away at nature’s time capsules. And since the early 20th Century that’s exactly what has happened.

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Palaeo Pop-Culture – SUE the T. rex

Guest Author – Han Kemp
2nd Year Undergraduate Student in Palaeontology, University of Bristol

Twitter is a great social media platform that’s allowed me to follow along with all kinds of palaeontologists and fossil aficionados. One such account is SUE (@SUEtheTrex), representing one of the largest and most extensive Tyrannosaurus rex specimens ever found. The 67-million-year-old enthuses over Jeff Goldblum, plays Dungeons and Dragons with their followers, and gets angry at people who mention meteors. This might sound a little confusing, so let me add some context.

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Misconceptions – Dilophosaurus Duality

Today is the 5th November, the annual British holiday of blowing things up to celebrate things not being blown up. Seeing as it is such a flashy vibrant event, I’m turning my attention to what is perceived as one of the flashiest and showiest of the dinosaurs; a star of Jurassic Park, Dilophosaurus.

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