A Cat’s Eye View Of The Past

Guest Author – Arthur Owens
Current Palaeobiology MSc Student

When thinking about ancient cats the first animals that jump to mind are often large and impressive species like the fierce Saber-tooths, Jaguars, and other big felids. Sadly, this is a view that is also mirrored in our research of historic cats, and a bias seen across all of science research. This article however is not about scientific bias but the third largest cat of south America, the Ocelot Leopardus pardalis, a species actually found alive today, brought forth by the recent discovery of a skull and part of a jawbone in Uruguay.


A Natural History Of Turkey Dinosaurs

This week, in America, they celebrated the annual holiday of Thanksgiving. It’s a day when millions of humans come together to celebrate the defeat of their ancient enemies in the famous battle ‘Dinosaurs vs Space’ (won by space in a TKO). They do this by sacrificing and eating the highly-derived remnants of their former foes (Turkeys).

Here in the UK, we have our own long standing tradition mixing palaeontology and this particular Galliforme. I am of course referring to Turkey Dinosaurs.


Down Under Came A Spider

Guest Author – Dr Rachel Kruft Welton
Palaeobiology MSc Graduate

It is possible, if you have never lived in Australia, that you have never come across a brush-footed trapdoor spider. These beauties are abundant in Australia and can be found from the tropical rainforests to intertidal coastal regions to the dry interior. They live in shallow burrows, often with a double front door, and some are known to climb trees where they make burrows in suitable cracks and cervices.


The BDP Monster Mash

Halloween Special 2023

The Zombie Apocalypse is a common Halloween trope. It’s a time when the idea of the dead rising from the grave is not only accepted, but actively celebrated. And to the surprise of none, amongst the rotten hoard this year is a familiar face; the BDP Blog.

We’ve done Halloween special posts before, like when we explored the spookiest thing about bats. This year though we’ll be matching icons of horror media with their prehistoric equivalents in a listicle. That’s right, the true horror here is that we’re going full Buzzfeed.


It’s A Long Story

When doing school sessions with the BDP, we always give an opportunity for the kids to ask us any of the burning questions they have about dinosaurs. In a recent session, in this moment, a keen child raised their hand and asked, “What is the longest ever insect?”

This is, of course, a demonstration of a child thoroughly misunderstanding the assignment, but that doesn’t stop it from being a legitimately intriguing question. What is the longest ever insect?


Too Late For A Dive: A Perspective Of Sea Spiders Past Diversity

Guest Author: Dr Romain Sabroux
Marie Curie Fellow in Earth Sciences, University of Bristol

I have to make a confession. I am not much of a diver.

As a marine biologist, this probably sounds odd. But if you make something as demanding as SCUBA diving, especially when you are on an actual scientific expedition and that you need to sample several times per day for a whole month, you need a good reason. My reason would be the animals I have been studying for eight years now: the pycnogonids, also known as sea spiders.


The Headless Herpetón of Aust

Guest Author: James Ormiston
Palaeontology MSci Graduate / Palaeoartist

Herpetón‘ – Noun, from the Ancient Greek ἑρπετόν meaning:
A four-legged animal, or an animal that creeps, e.g. a lizard or snake

Gather ‘round ye rock hounds and I shall tell ye the tale of the slippery serpent of the Severn. ‘tis a tale of obscure mystery, war, obsessive Victorian collectors and a headless reptile over 200 million years old. That reptile is Pachystropheus.


Darwinism & Dragons

Guest Author – Sophie Pollard
Current Palaeobiology MSc Student

No matter how much or how little you know about mythology, you know about dragons. They’re pretty much everywhere. From the feathered Quetzalcoatl of Aztec culture to the many-headed Mesopotamian deity Tiamat, supernatural serpents have been causing floods, kidnapping women, and making a general nuisance of themselves to the heroes of our favourite stories for as long as anyone can remember.


The Why Of Sauron

Allow me a short digression into something nerdy. It’s niche and weird but I slipped in some science along the way. Whilst doing a bit of reading for another project the other day I stumbled across a curious link between two very different worlds; the science of Palaeontology, and the fictional antagonist of Middle-Earth. I subsequently went on to discover that link again, and then again. All of which led me to ask; why does Sauron keep popping up in palaeo?