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  • Underwhelming Fossil Fish of the Month: January 2016

    By Mark Carnall, on 29 January 2016

    January 2016 was a big month for palaeontology in the media. This month you may have caught a programme on fossil Mesozoic vertebrate finds featuring one of the most beloved natural historians, some might go as far to say, ‘National Treasure’. No, I’m not talking about David Attenborough and some big dinosaur, that’s the easy route to media coverage. I’m talking about our very own underwhelming fossil fish on Radio 4’s Inside Science programme. If you’re new to this blog series, the humble goal is to increase global fossil fishteracy one underwhelming fossil fish from the Grant Museum collections at a time.

    You might expect that with the boost in coverage, we’d have some timely underwhelming fossil fish merchandise to shill, a calendar perhaps or a pack of underwhelming fossil fish Top Trumps cards. However, as I’ve told numerous producers this week who tried to secure the underwhelming fossil fish of the month film rights, this is not the UFFotM way. We’re going to be ploughing on ahead with yet another uninteresting fossil fish, not one that’s any more or less underwhelming, just another un-noteworthy, comme ci, comme ça fossil. No fuss and especially no muss. (more…)

    Animals and their super senses

    By Dean W Veall, on 26 August 2014

    Guest blogger Dr. Helen Czerski

    Spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta) LDUCZ-Z2589

    Spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta) LDUCZ-Z2589

    Peering up the nose of a hyena is not generally on the “to do” list of most people.  As a physicist  it’s also not the sort of thing you are trained to do, either.   Fortunately for me, this hyena was long-dead – I was only faced with a skull that had just been borrowed from its display case in the Grant Museum of Zoology.   And its nose was well-worth ogling.

    (more…)

    Springwatch in review

    By Dean W Veall, on 21 June 2013

    European goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis) European goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis) Image taken by Andreas Trepte. Image obtained from commons.wikimedia.org

    European goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis)

    I, like many a young, curly-haired Welsh zoologist was raised on the staple of Attenborough documentaries, (I became especially obsessed with the beautiful scene off the coast of Patagonia with the orca hunting the seals). Springwatch, which recently ended it’s three week run, couldn’t be further from the sandy beaches of Patagonia. It’s been described as many things, Big Brother for animals, the original constructed reality programme, The Really Wild Show for grown-ups, but I think Springwatch is the most important natural history programme on British television.

    Bill Oddie and Kate Humble launched the series from the Fishleigh Estate in Devon in 2005 but Springwatch over it’s nine outings has grown into an vital part of the BBC’s output in natural history broadcasting. I recently highlighted what I thought were the strengths of some of the best science/natural history programming, a combination of real science and scientists, authoritative presenter and beautiful images to illustrate points. Springwatch has all these elements and so much more.

    (more…)

    Mammalian megafauna

    By Dean W Veall, on 31 May 2013

    Mammoth hair

    Mammoth hair

    Megafauna, what a great word, it will feature prominently throughout this blog. By far the most popular extinct megafauna with the public are the megafauna of the reptilian variety, dinosaurs, pterosaurs and marine reptiles like icthyosaurs. But coming a close second in the megafauna popularity stakes are the mammalian megafauna in fact I would go as far as to say they are even the second most popular extinct fauna (sorry all those lovers of underwhelming fossil fish).  The mammalian megafauna are the stars of a new BBC2 natural history documentary Ice Age Giants fronted by Dr. Alice Roberts. (more…)