Welcome to our blog about life as a palaeontologist – or trainee palaeontologist – working on fossil colour.
This year's posts
16 May 2022
Bea recently got back from her first synchrotron trips to Soleil in Paris. She got a chance work with X-ray fluorescence at the Nanoscopium beamline and infrareds at the SMIS beamline. It was very tough work but she had fun and she learned a lot! She also got to use liquid nitrogen, which was scary but very cool.
10 May 2022
Maria awarded SFI Frontiers for the Future grant! In this project Maria plus PhD student Aaron Quigley and colleagues will investigate how, and why, melanin evolved in vertebrates, by better understanding the biology of melanin in modern-day vertebrates and how this is impacted by aspects of the fossilization process.
3 May 2022
Jess was recently on holiday along the Yorkshire coast. This coastline is famous for its geology and incredible fossils found in the Jurassic and Cretaceous rocks. Jess found some amazing fossils including belemnites, bivalves and partial ammonites!
25 Apr 2022
Daniel wants to do statistics on his data. But which is the most suitable program for his analysis? Let’s try and find out!
20 Apr 2022
Paper in Nature + front cover next week = happy PI!
11 Apr 2022
After two long years of restricted travel, it feels so nice to be back in action. Here is Valentina visiting the beamline Nanoscopium at the Soleil synchrotron near Paris.
4 Apr 2022
Valentina is teaching Dan and Bea how to extract melanin from tissue samples: here they are working on some seabass!
28 Mar 2022
Having only recently started his PhD, Aaron has been heavily involved in reading the literature, keeping himself up to date with the latest information and techniques. He'll be getting started on some lab work soon!
21 Mar 2022
Maria is busy preparing samples for an upcoming visit to the synchrotron facility at Soleil in France!
14 Mar 2022
Zixiao was at the Lough lake testing the presence of sulfate-reducing bacteria, a key agent in the formation of phosphatized fossils. The result was positive, so he will go back and collect water and sediments from the lake for coming fossilization experiments!
7 Mar 2022
Mental health is incredibly important! And minding your mental health while doing a PhD is even more important - so Hannah is sharing two things that are making all the difference: her cat Smudge and some little seedlings growing into homegrown food in the window (which is definitely related to her research on soils!).
28 Feb 2022
This week Jess and Maria visited Ballyvongane National School in County Cork to deliver an interactive workshop. The students learned all about trace fossils, mass extinctions and environmental change.
21 Feb 2022
Bea is finally ready to get started in the lab! She is very excited to learn new techniques from her amazing lab mates!
14 Feb 2022
Jess has been busy preparing the materials for Ireland's Fossil Heritage school workshops starting very soon. The workshops will involve lots of fun fossil activities, including experimenting with various sediment to see what preserves the best dinosaur footprint! For more information on the school workshops check out the Ireland's Fossil Heritage website: https://www.ucc.ie/en/fossil-heritage/workshops/
7 Feb 2022
Daniel prepares samples for his upcoming analysis. He embedded a tiny piece of a fossil frog in liquid resin. To solidify the viscous resin, he “baked” it at 60 degrees for 24 hours in a special oven. Once that’s done, Maria will put the sample under a microscope, slice it into very thin and flat sections and transfer them to a glass slide. Only then can Daniel analyse his samples with different techniques.
31 Jan 2022
Aude has been working in the lab recently, using the scanning electron microscope to image decayed and matured skin and feathers.
24 Jan 2022
How lovely is this little Irish dragon? Keraterpeton galvani is an amphibian from Jarrow, Co Kilkenny, and lived around 310 million years ago!
17 Jan 2022
Getting under a dinosaur’s skin - Zixiao has been examining skin samples from a Psittacosaurus, a weird-looking dinosaur that had both scales and feathers.
10 Jan 2022
Done and dusted! Just before the break over the holidays, Hannah finished all 20 sites of her fieldwork. One of the last few sites proved quite a challenge once the days were starting to get shorter and it was sampled by the light of a flashlight - but all is well that ends well! The very last site was even sampled in some glorious sunshine.