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There are millions of different animal species on Earth: some majestic, some beautiful, and some just a bit...weird. Join our speakers on a roadtrip through time to view some of the weirdest and wackiest creatures on the planet: from dinosaurs to bizarre birds to insects that we can eat!
A 'weird' dinosaur from the Dorset coast
Dr David Norman (Reader, Department of Earth Sciences)
The Dorset coast is famous in fossil mythology because of Mary Anning, a fossil collector of the early 19th century who explored the crumbling cliffs. Yet dinosaur remains should not be found in marine rocks, as dinosaurs lived on land rather than cavorting in the sea. However, not long after Mary Anning died, the fossils of a new dinosaur were discovered in the cliffs at Charmouth. This dinosaur was first described by the man who invented the name Dinosaur (Richard Owen). Despite this, very little is known of this dinosaur, and, as I'll show you in this talk, most of what is known is wrong!
Weirdness and wackiness on the way to modern birds: New Cretaceous fossils reveal a Velociraptor-like skull atop a modern bird body
Fossils from the Mesozoic Era (the 'Age of Dinosaurs') reveal the origins of birds' feathers, flying ability, and even warm-bloodedness. However, very few fossils of Mesozoic relatives of birds exhibit complete, three-dimensionally preserved kulls, making it difficult to understand how, when, and why the toothless skulls of modern birds arose. In this talk, we will examine newly discovered 85-million-year-old fossils revealing the evolutionary origin of the modern bird beak, and examine the surprising combination of dinosaur-like features exhibited by this weird and wacky fossil animal.
Edible insects - a rich and diverse tradition, and trend!
Insects have been positioned as a new, sustainable protein source, but what is the science behind the headlines? Insects, which use far less land and water than traditional lifestock like meat and poultry, offer a promising alternative to our current globalised food system. Unfortunately, some methods of insect farming and harvesting are not sustainable. This is particularly important to consider in light of recent evidence of severe declines in insect populations worldwide. Come learn about the stories behind our food, and taste a few insects yourself after the talk!
As part of the Creative Reactions project, these artists will be presenting their artwork inspired by the research of speakers in this talk series. The artwork will also be on display at our Creative Reactions Exhibition at St Barnabas Church, 24 - 25 May.