What is Ireland’s Fossil Heritage?
Ireland’s Fossil Heritage is a science engagement project funded by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI). We are based at the School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences at University College Cork (UCC). The project aims to increase awareness of, and interest in, Irish fossils by offering a diverse range of free resources to the public, including school workshops, a travelling exhibit, science and art collaborations and lots of interactive web content for all ages and backgrounds.
Why should we care about Irish fossils?
Ireland’s natural landscape is made up of diverse and unique rocks which contain clues about the ancient Earth. We can connect to this mysterious past by discovering and exploring the rocks beneath our feet. Hidden within some of these rocks are the remains of plants and animals that lived in Ireland millions of years ago. These fossils can teach us about exciting prehistoric worlds.
Maria is Professor of Palaeontology at the School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences at UCC. She studies fossils with powerful X-rays and lasers to understand how animals evolved colours, and how dinosaurs and birds evolved feathers. She works on many different types of fossil animals, including dinosaurs and other reptiles, birds, mammals, amphibians, fish, squids, jellyfish and even sea squirts. Her research brings her all over the world on fieldwork, studying fossil specimens in the collections of natural history museums, and doing analyses at large international science labs.
“Fossils are such rare and wonderful things that instinctively raise questions and wonder and curiosity. They inspire us to become detectives, to look for the clues that tell us about where and how these ancient animals lived and moved and breathed, what they ate and even how they died. They embody the very best of science”
UCC Palaeogroup website
Jess is the science engagement officer for Ireland’s Fossil Heritage. She completed her PhD in geology at the National University of Ireland, Galway with a specific focus on the origins of sedimentary rocks in the ancient past. She is fascinated with the natural world and wants to know more about how it formed and how it changes through time. As a science engagement officer, Jess hopes to inspire others to become curious about the ground beneath their feet.
"Rocks tell the story of our planet, I love that no matter where you go in the world you can read the landscape and understand a part of its epic tale."
Will is a Research Assistant for Ireland's Fossil Heritage at UCC.
I've always wanted to learn about natural science, my favourite subjects being Palaeontology, Biology and Geology. My work and research topics reflect my wide interests; Investigating depositional environments, bone preservation potential and mammalian biomechanics have all been fascinating paths of research. A big motivation of mine is to share my knowledge and experience with others, I was a geological tour guide in Iceland for one year and I now help in delivering workshops about Irish fossils. I plan to partake in PhD research in the near future. My passion has brought me a long way and I am always looking to learn more!