Sunday, 23 October 2011

Geofest 2011 - Lectures

At the Geofest 2011 hosted by the National Museum of Wales and the South Wales Geologists Association we were treated to a pair of excellent speakers.

First up was Dr John Nudds from Manchester University who took us through the history and biology of the famous fossil Archaeopteryx lithographica from the discovery of the first specimen that is now housed in the Natural History Museum in London to the very latest specimen which has only just been announced

[Click any picture for slideshow format]

In taking us through the history John explained how each specimen found has added to our knowledge of this important evolutionary "link" between dinosaurs and birds with features of both present

With the annopuncement of some brand new science that is about to be published and some interesting qurestions John brought the first session to a close

In the later afternoon we were entertained by Dr Dave Martill of Portsmouth University who explained to us the biology and history of discovery of Pterosaurs and how by looking at the features of the bones and using comparative anatomy we can come to learn how they lived.

Despite this being an excellent presentation in its intended content, probably the highlight of the talk for many came when Dave decided to demonstrate how they could work as quadrupedal land animals and not bipedal as suggested by some authors

This started with a demonstration of how amphibians and early reptiles have a very sprawling gate, but this is very energy inefficient

[Click any picture for slideshow format]

As things developed the legs were brought under the body which is more effective, but still requires a lot of energy to support the body

Until with Dinosaurs the legs are brought under the body which allows for long periods of standing with virtually no energy expended. He described them as coffee table animals

And finally how some of them achieved a bipedal gate

Pterosaurs on the other hand have a bent leg gate for their rear legs

Which works well as you lean forwards into a quadrupedal stance

But not so well if you try and stand upright 

He told us how the animals developed a fantastic structure in their bones such that when they were wanting to take off they could crouch with all four limbs

And then quite literally throw themselves into the air. As you can see from this picture Dave is quite an inexperienced Pterosaur as he's only managed to get his rear end into flight

[Click any picture for slideshow format]

No comments:

Post a Comment