Inspirational 'Jane'!

Posted by lcb14 at Oct 28, 2018 09:05 PM |
PhD Researcher Will Crabbe talks about how dinosaurs like our 'Jane' the T.rex have been an inspiration to his career.
Inspirational 'Jane'!

Will's research focuses around tiny fossils called paraconodonts

Dinosaurs, like our resident T. rex Jane, have always sparked our imagination and for me that’s no exception. I had a slight obsession with dinosaurs as a child (still do) and would pour over numerous books filled with images of prehistoric creatures, trying to learn as much as I could. This interest extended out into the natural world, getting me into zoology and the history of life on the planet.

All of this culminated in me pursuing the MGeol degree in Geology with Palaeobiology (now Geology with Palaeontology) at the University of Leicester. I was delighted that I was able to pursue a degree in my childhood obsession and was completely unaware well into my teenage years when I was taking A-levels that this was an entirely viable option to take!

After my degree I decided that I wanted to pursue palaeontological research and so applied for PhD’s. I was fortunate enough to be accepted onto a CENTA (Central England NERC Training Alliance) doctoral training partnership here at Leicester working with Dr Tom Harvey and I’m currently in the first year of my PhD. My research focuses around tiny (less than 1mm) fossils called paraconodonts that are about 500 million years old! They appear in rocks around the time that complex and large organisms were very suddenly starting to evolve and appear on our planet - an event known as the ‘Cambrian Explosion’. These microscopic fossils are widely thought to represent tooth-like structures present in primitive animals closely related to fish and potentially display the earliest evidence of skeletal mineralisation in the fossil record. This is really important information to know as we humans are part of the vertebrate lineage and this could potentially help us to understand where we came from! By studying these fossils we hope to help unravel the mysteries of this early and critical evolutionary period.

I believe Jane the T. rex is the perfect symbol of the awe and wonder that inspired me to follow my current career path in science and I hope she and her dinosaur buddies continue to inspire future generations of scientists. Happy birthday Jane!

Will Crabbe, PhD Research Student

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