Palaeodiets "under the microscope" at Yorkshire Fossil Festival 2017

Posted by lcb14 at Oct 16, 2017 11:05 AM |
Over the weekend of the 22-24th of September geology and palaeontology enthusiasts descended on the seaside town of Scarborough for the annual Yorkshire Fossil Festival.
Palaeodiets "under the microscope" at Yorkshire Fossil Festival 2017

The Leicester team at their stand at the Yorkshire Fossil Festival

This free family event is held at the Rotunda museum on the sea front and is host to a variety of exhibitors from museums and academic institutions to artists and local trusts. For the second consecutive year the University of Leicester palaeobiology research group showcased one area of their palaeontological research into the diets of extinct animals using microscopic textures on tooth surfaces. The Leicester stand was championed by a team of postgraduate researchers and undergraduate volunteers. With over 5000 visitors over the three day event, this year was the biggest festival yet!

Our activity stand showcased a tactile approach to explaining how diets of extinct animals can be inferred from their microscopic tooth surface textures. We used 3D printed examples of tooth textures from animals studied at Leicester, where visitors could, quite literally, feel the difference between textures caused by different diets: ‘crunchy’ foods causing rough textures and ‘soft’ foods causing smoother surfaces. These were augmented by a collection of fossil and modern tooth examples where visitors had to work out what animal they were from. Examples included a dolphin skull (which fascinated a lot of people), a tooth battery of the duck-billed dinosaur, Edmontosaurus and a molar from a woolly mammoth! To top it all off visitors could hunt for their own fossil teeth to take home from our sandpit containing fossils from the 54 Ma Oued Zem deposit in Morocco.

Hunting for fossil shark teeth!
Hunting for fossil shark teeth!

Overall the festival was a huge success, with visitors from all walks of life enjoying the variety of palaeontological paraphernalia on show. The legacy of our stand will continue as it will be used for open days within the new School, helping to further represent the cutting-edge palaeontological research undertaken at the university. We hope to see you all again at the festival next year!

On behalf of the team at Leicester we would like to thank the Scarborough Museums trust and festival organisers  for allowing us to participate, the Paleontological Society for sponsoring our stand, Lisa Barber for her invaluable help in preparing the promotional material, Vicky Ward for arranging specimens to be used, Sarah Davies, Tom Harvey and our supervisors for their support and encouragement, Simon Harris at the British Geological Survey for printing the 3D tooth surfaces and all of the visitors to the festival who made it such an enjoyable and rewarding experience.

Examples of our 3D printed tooth surfaces alongside fossil and modern tooth and jaws!
Examples of our 3D printed tooth surfaces alongside fossil and modern tooth and jaws!
Lucy and Jonathan showing enthusiastic visitors a Giganotosaurus tooth
Lucy and Jonathan showing enthusiastic visitors a Giganotosaurus tooth

Filed under:

Share this page:

Contact Details

School of Geography, Geology and the Environment
University of Leicester
University Road
Leicester
LE1 7RH, UK

T: +44 (0)116 252 3933
E: geology@le.ac.uk

Student complaints procedure

Accessibility

DisabledGo logo

The University of Leicester is committed to equal access to our facilities. DisabledGo has a detailed accessibility guide for the Bennett Building.