Steve Koppes (USA) Although he is an experimental physicist who discovered new elementary particles in the early 1950s and invented the high-resolution scanning ion microprobe, Riccardo Levi-Setti also is known in paleontological circles for co-discovering a giant trilobite subspecies and for his book, Trilobites. Decades ago, as a diversion, Levi-Setti … Read More
Flavia Faedo (UK) The Thiepval Memorial is situated four miles (almost 6.5km) north of the town of Albert, in northern France, and was built to commemorate British soldiers who have no known grave, yet died here during the Great War of 1914-1918. This memorial rises majestically from the woods and, … Read More
Megan Jacobs (UK) The history of geosciencein the UK is heavily dominated by men, with eminent figures such as Sir Richard Owen, Charles Lyell, William Buckland and Gideon Mantell famed for making many big advances in the early days of the science. However, in the background were powerful and intelligent women, leading, directing, guiding, even pushing their husbands with hard work. Tenacity and dedication to the subject and, presumably devotion and loyalty to their respective spouses. Ultimately, a small army of behind-the-scenes women advanced the science by leaps and bounds, such that, by the end of the nineteenth century, they had laid the foundations for women to move from the peripheries of academe to its heart. During the 1800s and early 1900s, male scientists often had female assistants, whose research and findings were included in the lead scientists’ work. However, as the women themselves were not labelled as scientists, they did not receive the acknowledgement or credit they rightly deserved. It has been said that some women published scientific papers using a male pseudonym, allowing for their research to be revealed to the scientific community, without suffering the repercussions of an elitist and blatantly sexist society. In recent years, we have become increasingly more aware of women’s contributions to science and the often-unfair treatment they received from the 1600s, until the last couple of decades. Certainly, the most famous woman in the earth sciencesof the nineteenth century must be Mary Anning. At the time, she went mostly uncredited and faced … Read More
Peter J Perkins (UK) This article is for those who like a geological excuse for visiting places. There may well be quaint villages, wonderful scenery and unusual wildlife but, if there is some special geology, so much the better. La Rioja is one of the small regions of northern Spain. … Read More
This book has something of an aspirational, rather than practical, feel to it. However, there is no doubt – in my mind anyway – that it is the best book on the geology of the Himalaya I have read. It is written with a nice light touch, with some humour. And it covers far more than just geology – where appropriate, it includes history, especially about the exploration of the subcontinent, and Asian culture.
Khursheed Dinshaw (India) Gobustan in Azerbaijan is an interesting site depicting prehistoric rock art. The petroglyphs here vary in age from the Upper Palaeolithic Era to the Middle Ages (Fig. 1). A UNESCO World Heritage Site, more than 6,000 images can be seen here (Figs. 2 to 9). The petroglyphs … Read More
Recently, I have finished the Great Silurian Controversy, a magnificent book about the nineteenth century arguments over the age of the lower Palaeozoic greywackes/sediments of Devon, and the creation of the concept of the Devonian. And reading The Lewisian: Britain’s oldest rocks by Graham Park, perhaps it occurs to me that this should perhaps be called, The Great Lewisian Controversy. It shares the same historical and scientific intentions, and the same grand sweep of scientific history from the early twentieth century, namely, the exploration over decades of the geology of the Lewisian of northwest Scotland.
Jon Trevelyan (UK) One rainy afternoon in March, rather than getting wet collecting fossils near Radstock, I abandoned my plans and paid a brief visit to the Wells & Mendip Museum in Somerset. It is not a geology museum, but it does have some great geological exhibitions. The museum (Fig. … Read More
The Cro-Magnons were a population of early modern humans (that is, they were physically indistinguishable from us, today), who lived in Europe between about 40,000 and 10,000 years ago, during the Upper Palaeolithic period. This information comes from Trenton Holliday’s excellent book, which tells the story of these people in the context of recent scientific advances. However, while it does not shy away from complex scientific issues, the book is written with a light, understandable touch.
Allen Fraser (UK) Shetland is a spectacular group of islands with a varied geology, a wonderful landscape and a special flora and fauna, peopled by a culture distinct within the British Isles. Shetland remains one of Britain’s natural treasures.” (J. Laughton Johnston) The islands Shetland sits on the edge of … Read More
Khursheed Dinshaw (India) Mohansinh Sodha (Fig. 1) is the founder of the Kutch Fossil Park located in Kutch, in the state of Gujarat in India. The park exhibits invertebrates, including ammonites, belemnites, nautilus (Fig. 2), brachiopods, gastropods (Fig. 3), corals (Fig. 4) and echinoderms. Marine fossils, including brachiopods and echinoderms, … Read More
Jon Trevelyan(UK) Contained in what was once the Radstock Market Hall (Fig. 1), this is perhaps one of my favourite local museums. Maybe it is because the museum is close to wonderful relics of the Somerset coal industry and to the Upper Carboniferous plant fossils that were a waste product. … Read More
Khursheed Dinshaw (India) The Salkhan Fossil Park is located in the state of Uttar Pradesh in India. Spread over 25 hectares, it is an important geoheritage site for stromatolites. These stromatolites were identified by Professor RC Misra and Professor S Kumar of the University of Lucknow. Stromatolites are layered sedimentary … Read More
Ken Brooks (UK) Pierre Teilhard de Chardin was born in the Auvergne region of France on 1 May 1881. His enthusiasm for science developed in his childhood, partly through the influence and encouragement of his father, who was a keen naturalist. In 1899, at the age of 18 and having … Read More
Khursheed Dinshaw (India) The Geology Museum of Ipoh in Malaysia is located inside the premises of the Department of Minerals and Geoscience Malaysia (Fig. 1). The museum is an interesting venue where you canlearn about both the geology and the geosciences of the country. The easy to navigate museum was … Read More
Dr Steven C Sweetman (UK) Ask any palaeontologist, professional or otherwise, to name the first fossil vertebrate or vertebrate group that comes to mind and the chances are that the majority will come up with something like the charismatic dinosaurs, Dimetrodon (Fig. 1), the saber-toothed ‘tiger’ or some other large … Read More
Michael E Howgate One hundred years ago, a grapefruit-sized lump of rock ended its four and a half billion year long journey through space by crashing into a field in northwest Essex. To be more precise, at 1pm on Friday, 9 March 1923, Frederick Pratt, a thatcher and farm labourer, … Read More
Deborah Painter (USA) Tiger’s eye is definitely an unusual semiprecious gem because of a phenomenon called “chatoyancy” seen in only a few minerals and stones. “Chat” is of course the French word for “cat”. The golden bands of polished specimens remind one of a cat’s eye. Chatoyancy refers to the … Read More
This is a charming little book, which describes itself as an “admittedly idiosyncratic compendium of [geological] words and phrases chosen because they are portals into larger stories”. It succeeds brilliantly at its professed goal, combining a great deal of information, education, and a gentle sense of fun, brought out very nicely by some attractive and humorous illustrations.
Rob Hope (France) For many years, a great number of Permian fossil footprints have been found in the red mudstone horizons of France’s Lodéve basin (Fig. 1). I have spent some time researching the fossils of this barren region, including learning from papers written by an array of specialists, as … Read More
I know this looks first and foremost like a coffee table book, but what a picture and coffee table book! And, unlike such books, the undoubtedly chatty text is well worth reading. This is a great book for those who love palaeontology.
Jon Trevelyan (UK) Kendal Museum is one of those charming, cluttered museums I feared were dying out (Fig. 1), but still seem to defy the odds and continuing surprising visitors. Like the museum in Whitby (see Geology museums of Britain: Whitby Museum, Yorkshire), at Kendal, there seems to be exhibits … Read More
Dr Caroline Buttler (UK) Oxygen is responsible for the majority of chemical reactions that lead to the decay and degradation of museum specimens; the corrosion of iron and the fading of many pigments when exposed to ultraviolet light could not occur without the presence of oxygen. It is also essential … Read More
George Burden (Canada) The Wasson’s Bluff fossil site, near Parrsboro, is the most geologically recent, yet perhaps the most fascinating of the locations of interest to palaeontologists in Nova Scotia. Located on the Bay of Fundy’s Minas Basin, fossil buffs can view what are perhaps the smallest dinosaur footprints ever … Read More
George Burden (Canada) In this second article on fossil locations in Nova Scotia in Canada, I will discuss the fascinating site of Blue Beach. This is perhaps the least known and most under-appreciated of the three major fossil cliffs in Nova Scotia. Most residents of the province (including me, until … Read More
Khursheed Dinshaw (India) “Let’s organize a hike to Yana to see its impressive rock formations,” suggested Ramesh V, the wellness consultant at Gamyam Retreat, which is a luxury wellness resort located an hour’s drive from Yana. My interest piqued. The next day, I headed to Yana located in Uttara Kannada … Read More
Deborah Painter (USA) As our small passenger jet began its descent into the Plattsburgh, New York International Airport on a cool November day, I admired Lake Champlain to the east from my window and noticed that the small aircraft, once it touched the very long runway, continued rolling down it … Read More
Jon Trevelyan (UK) This is the second of my articles on the geology museums of Glasgow (see also Geology museums of Britain: Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow). The Hunterian contains for some Scotland’s finest collections, covering subjects such as Roman artefacts from the Antonine Wall (fascinating, given that its … Read More
Jon Trevelyan (UK) When I went up to Glasgow to attend my son’s graduation, I deliberately made some time to visit Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum to explore its 22 galleries. These cover everything from art to animals, Ancient Egypt to Charles Rennie Mackintosh and much, much more besides. However, … Read More
Dr Charlie Underwood (UK) Shark teeth are amongst the most iconic and sought after of fossils. However, for most of us, collecting them can be a difficult or even unpleasant task. I am sure that most collectors in northern Europe are familiar with picking their way over slipped cliffs of … Read More