Saturday, 28 March 2015

Newfoundland to Alaska....and back again!

The past few weeks have been a little hectic....this is possibly the biggest understatement of my career. I started a few weeks ago by flying from Manchester to Newark and then headed straight-up to Newfoundland. This was my first stop on my Distinguished Lecturer tour for the American Museum of Natural History (AAPG) who kindly asked that I spread the work on our work at the University of Manchester. Since that first stop I have worked my way across North America giving a series of lectures in St. Johns, Idaho, Anchorage, Calgary, Billings, Kansas City, Casper, and New York. The last stop at the Wyoming Geological Society in Casper (Wyoming) also allowed me time to visit the splendid Tate Museum. An amazing place, with an inspirational team of staff and volunteers who are geographically located in an epicentre of paleontological wealth. As the staff and volunteers gave me the tour of their labs and exhibitions, my jaw continuously dropped in amazement...from one stunning fossil to another, from an articulated T. rex to a 50 million year old turtle that looked like it was only just buried yesterday.

Jean-Pierre (JP) Cavigelli gently sheds light on the dorsal series of their most lickable T. its plaster sarcophagus!
I also had the pleasure of meeting with a fellow rock-hound, Dr. Kent Sundell...a most splendid chap who has an encyclopaedic knowledge of the beasties that once lived in what is now the White River Badlands (some 30-40 million years old). Seeing some of the most amazing fossils of the gorgeous artiodactyl oreodonts and not to mention their art nemesis Dinictis, a splendid day was had ogling at their delicate fossil remains.  I have to admit, that talking to folks like Kent, remind me of why I became a palaeontologist....the fossils are simply beautiful and tell us amazing stories of lost worlds and forgotten lives.

In a few days I have to hop back on a plane that will whisk me back to Blighty. After lecturing over the Easter weekend at the Edinburgh Science Festival, I will then be helping my Manchester colleagues take 70 undergraduates to sample the delights of South Devon (UK) on our one week-long field-camp.  Sadly, no Dinictis or T. rex in South Devon, but there will be the delights of the Torquey Limestone!

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