Palaeontologists invite members of the public to see the riddle of our earliest ancestors solved

Posted by ap507 at Jun 12, 2014 04:55 PM |
Public engagement event at Highcross Shopping Centre to take place on Saturday 14 June
Palaeontologists invite members of the public  to see the riddle of our earliest ancestors solved

Images shows progressive stages of decay of a close relative of vertebrates, the lancelet (AKA amphioxus). As they rot, specimens look more and more like fossils from the earliest parts of the vertebrate evolutionary tree.

The University is inviting members of the public to get involved and discover the vital research conducted at universities throughout the UK at the Highcross Shopping Centre in Leicester City Centre on Saturday 14 June – by experiencing it first-hand.

An exhibition stand will be set up within the centre to explore mankind’s deepest evolutionary origins, as told through research into rotting fish and the fossil record of early vertebrates.

The University team led by Dr Sarah Gabbott and Professor Mark Purnell from the Department of Geology is rotting a variety of primitive fishes to discover how their characteristic anatomical features are transformed and lost during decay. The results allow us to correctly recognise and interpret the ancient fossils.

There will be plenty of staff on hand to answer questions on palaeontology and two small sand-pits will enable children to try their hand at finding their own fossils. 54 million years old shark and ray teeth teeth, fish bones and even snake vertebrae, are all waiting to be discovered. For the brave a selection of smells from the rotting fish lab will be available to sniff!

The event is part of Universities Week 2014, during which universities hold a week-long series of public activities and events on campuses, museums and galleries throughout the country to celebrate the importance of academic research to a wide audience.

The event also promotes Adult Learners’ Week, which is running from 14 - 20 June 2014 and celebrates lifelong learning.

Universities Week 2014 is being run by Universities UK with Research Councils UK, the Higher Education Funding Council for England and the National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement.

The University of Leicester display takes place at the Highcross shopping centre in Leicester city on Saturday 14 June.

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