Palaeontology in the Contemporary World

Tue 13th

15:00 - 15:20

My research project further examined an association of fossil shelled animals (brachiopods) from Oriel Brook in eastern Ireland, known as ‘The Foliomena fauna’. They lived ~446 million years ago [Late Katian stage of the Upper Ordovician Period]. I identified several brachiopods and for the first time, discovered four genera previously undocumented from Oriel Brook. A faunal list was compiled and statistically compared to other Foliomena faunas found globally using PAST [PAlaeontological Statistics]. From this analysis, the fauna was placed on a relative water depth spectrum. This along with their palaeogeographic significance, allowed me to determine where on the globe this fauna inhabited. Here, I hope to demonstrate that there’s more to Palaeontology than just digging up dinosaurs. That invertebrate fossils are vitally important ‘tools’, allowing us to open a window into the deep past and correlate a global story. That Palaeontology possesses various, applicable uses in an ever-changing contemporary world.

Matthew Staitis

Earth Science

College of Science and Engineering

I am a very passionate extrovert when it comes to my favourite topic of Palaeontology and Earth Science in general. This is one subject I just can’t shut up about. I like making the connections that link us and the natural world together. The fact that when you look at some rocks in detail and find fossils within the rock, a lot of the time you will be first human ever to lay eyes on them. That through freeing the fossil from an otherwise rocky prison and examining it, you are now enabling its greater story to be told. This will always be a special experience. Therefore, I hope to champion the vital role Palaeontology plays in better understanding our deep past and how from this we can better envisage our future. While, to many, a fossil might just be an unusual impression in the rock, I hope to convey to the audience that it is in fact so much more. To me, what is a fossil but a time capsule? A window to a lost world and a vanished life. Fossils can serve us as tools, helping us piece together of a geological jigsaw puzzle and correlate a global story that spans over hundreds of millions of years of Earth’s history.