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17 Dec 2018

Valentina and Thomas were both Highly Commended for their talks at the 62nd Annual Meeting of the Palaeontological Association in Bristol over the weekend, receiving two runners-up places for the President’s Prize!

10 Dec 2018

The research team was in Stanford this week, at the SSRL facility.

3 Dec 2018

Valentina was working with the welder last week, preparing tiny gold capsules for maturation experiments!

26 Nov 2018

Thomas is compiling his notes and photos from the research group’s recent expedition to China – see Maria, Valentina and Chris below!

19 Nov 2018

Maria, Thomas, Tiffany, Valentina, Daniel and Paulina from the research group travelled to Lough Hyne in West Cork last week to shoot a promotional outreach geovideo. Paulina took this photo of the sea-water lake!

12 Nov 2018

Colour patterns in various fossil true bugs (Hemiptera) from the Eocene of Messel pit, Germany – photos from James!

5 Nov 2018

Valentina and Tiffany delivered an interactive workshop on palaeontology to teenagers at Dublin Zoo last week!

29 Oct 2018

The atmospheric (but chilly) setting enjoyed by Maria, Valentina, Chris and Thomas from above our field site at ca. 1400 m in Hebei for the last few weeks!

22 Oct 2018

Reading, reading, reading… All good science starts with extensive reading! We recently welcomed Daniel to the research group – he will be working on a new PhD project about preservation processes at the German Geiseltal Fossil Konservat Lagerstätte.

15 Oct 2018

Happy International Fossil Day! Look at this cute Dapalis macrurus specimen from the Oligocene Alpes de Haute-Provence locality, France!

8 Oct 2018

Valentina was awarded the Outstanding Poster Award by Prof. Joe Wong at the SSRL User’s Conference in Stanford, California.

1 Oct 2018

Thomas recently returned from the SVPCA2018 conference in Manchester, where he won the Best Talk Prize for his presentation of using taphonomic models to understanding the influence of palaeogeography in Lagerstätten.

24 Sep 2018

Luke discussed some of his research with visitors to this year’s BEES Culture Night event. Members of the public were able to use microscopes to reveal the surface structures of different insects, for example, the brilliant white scales of the Cyphochilus sp. beetle. In addition, the use of circularly polarised light by certain beetles such as the green-coloured Chalcothea smaragdina was shown using 3D glasses, whilst ‘sellotape mosaics’ where used to illustrate both polarisation and interference colours.

Chris helping out UCC’s Geological Society at an event last week for this year’s new undergraduate intake where he talked about dinosaur footprints and fossil colour!

Maria also came across an interesting article on gender bias in the geosciences!

17 Sep 2018

Maria and the PalAss crew speaking to the public about fossils at the Yorkshire Fossil Festival 2018 (and meeting the moon!)

A video of the festival can be accessed here:

10 Sep 2018

The Annual Dinner, held in the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, at the Annual Meeting of the EMAS – European Microbeam Analysis Society. Maria attended this meeting last week!

See also attended GeoBonn 2018 in Germany last week, during which she managed to give an interview to Deutschlandfunk Radio about her work! The report (in German!) is available here:

3 Sep 2018

Maria’s work on dino feather colour was mentioned during the visit of Minister John Halligan (Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research & Development – with responsibility for the SFI) to the School of BEES today!

Maria, meanwhile, was actually delivering a plenary lecture at the GeoBonn 2018 meeting in Germany! (photo credit: Gregor Oleschinski)

27 Aug 2018

This week, Tiffany is analysing data gathered at the particle accelerator in San Francisco to understand the chemistry of fossil feathers.

20 Aug 2018

James and fellow neuropterologists looking for extant lacewings during a light-trapping session at the International Symposium of Neuropterology (Germany) earlier this summer. Photo credit: J. Jones.

13 Aug 2018

“From Sketch to Reality”: Valentina is working on her next paper on the use of melanin to interpret fossil vertebrate soft tissue. She is using chemical mapping to reconstruct the anatomy of diverse fossil vertebrates (the top fossil is an early amphibian of 290 Ma and the bottom is a lizard of 180 Ma).

7 Aug 2018

Luke has been preparing scale-bearing insect cuticle for cutting ultra-thin section ahead of TEM imaging.

30 Jul 2018

Here are some of Chaofan’s specimens from her maturation experiments during her time here with us at UCC! Clockwise from top to bottom: Chrysochroa corbettiColotis vesta, some of her maturation samples and Hypolimnas monteironis.

23 Jul 2018

Geo-film in progress! Thanks ValeMedia!

16 Jul 2018

Chris and James getting into the swing of their talks in the first Konservat-Lagerstätten session in the Grand Amphitheatre du Museum at the IPC5 meeting.

9 Jul 2018

Valentina, Tiffany and Giliane at the start of 5th International Palaeontological Congress in Paris!


2 Jul 2018

Tiffany is using our custom-made maturation rig to simulate the high heat and pressure that fossil feathers experience while buried under sediment.

25 Jun 2018

James and Chaofan with the other fossil Neuropterida researchers at the symposium last week.

18 Jun 2018

James presenting his work on colour patterns in fossil Neuroptera at the 13th International Symposium of Neuropterology in Laufen, Germany.

11 Jun 2018

Looking into the eyes of 65 million years-old insects preserved in amber!


5 Jun 2018

Here is Valentina preparing samples (from the Triassic marine reptile Neusticosaurus peyeri) to bring to SSRL next week and performing a preliminary analysis of a Permian amphibian (from the Saar-Nahe deposit in Germany).

28 May 2018

Thomas’ army of ladybirds have arrived! The wing cases (elytra) will be used in a temperature/pressure experiment to replicate the fossilisation process.

21 May 2018

Luke and Maria painstakingly transferred fossil insect scales from cuticle onto special tape. The scales are now being analysed with X-rays using the synchrotron at the Argonne National Laboratory near Chicago in order to characterise their internal structure.

14 May 2018

Here is Chris after setting up the lab last week for a visit from a group of transition year students!

8 May 2018

Maria helping to man the PalAss stand at the Lyme Regis Fossil Festival in the UK. Lots of exciting activities relating to fossil preservation and fossils of the Jurassic!

30 Apr 2018

Last week, Tiffany presented a poster at London’s County Hall on her undergraduate research project titled ‘Intra-relationships of bullhead sharks: implications for the extinction of Paracestracion‘. She then received her Top Project Award at the House of Commons from the Royal Society of Biology.

23 Apr 2018

Our new postdoc Thomas is starting his project investigating how being buried and fossilised effects the pigments of beetles.

16 Apr 2018

Maria, Giliane and Luke attended the Living Light 2018 conference in Cambridge last week!

9 Apr 2018

A selection of fossil lacewings (Neuroptera) from the Jurassic of Daohugou, China, showing some of the diversity of wing patterns that James is analyzing as part of his project.

3 Apr 2018

Maria and Valentina are busy in Dingle, County Kerry at the moment, as they are providing the Easter field course to third year geology students. As part of the work, they were looking at the Devonian conglomerates, measuring clasts and analysing features to investigate different potential clastic spire regions.

People investigating fossils on the dingle shore

26 Mar 2018

Luke is at the Messel Research Station in Germany to hunt for scale-bearing specimens among the insect collection which comprises over 17,000 insects.

20 Mar 2018

Giliane is starting a new project on insect eyes. She is currently looking at scarab beetle eyes (below), specifically for physiological systems dedicated to the detection of polarized light.

12 Mar 2018

The “Girls into Geoscience – Ireland” event took place over the weekend. Maria co-hosted the day, with over 20 attendees, 5 volunteers from iCRAG and 4 invited speakers. For more information, please click here!

5 Mar 2018

Maria recently presented at the IGRM 2018 conference! Photo credit: Luke O’Reilly, School of BEES, University College Cork.

26 Feb 2018

After analysing the fossils at SSRL, Tiffany returned some specimens to China!

19 Feb 2018

Here are some of the samples (left to right: a wing, an amphibian and a fish) that Maria, Chris and Tiffany scanned at their recent trip to SSRL (also pictured!). Maria snapped a night-time photo of Chris and Tiffany at the facility too!

12 Feb 2018

James is marking his new biscuit-based 3rd year phylogeny practical!

6 Feb 2018

We had lots of help sorting our sizeable fossil collection from Nomah Sullivan last week – a Transition Year student who is interested in palaeobiology! Here is Naomi helping him out with the identification of some of the specimens.

29 Jan 2018

Our research group represented UCC again at the iWish Conference in Cork City Hall last week, with our Walk Like A Dinosaur exhibit and a variety of fossils!

22 Jan 2018

Valentina, Tiffany (half-hidden!) and Maria loading up a feathered dinosaur for analysis at the new low-Z beamline at SSRL last week. Very exciting!

15 Jan 2018

Chris and Luke represented UCC at the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition, by hosting our Walk Like A Dinosaur stall. Sensors were used to estimate visitors’ speed whilst walking / running, and we calculated an equivalent species of dinosaur on an individual basis. The team gave people an opportunity to see how different substrates affect the fidelity of dinosaur footprints. There were also theropod and amphibian footprints, a Microraptor cast, trilobite and fish fossils, and a huge bone from a mammoth!

8 Jan 2018

An impressive Grallator footprint from the early Jurassic of Massachusetts!

Maria McNamara Research Group

Experimental and analytical taphonomy

School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences (BEES), University College Cork (UCC), Butler Building, Distillery Fields, North Mall, Cork, T23 TK30, Ireland