Fossil Hunter Lottie has made it as far as Bristol! As well as having fantastic fun with our own Tori Herridge at the annual Natural Sciences Collections Association (aka NatSCA) annual conference down by the docks, Fossil Hunter Lottie also made it up the steep hill to the University of Bristol to spend a day with Professor Emily Rayfield.
Talk about #trowelblazing on an epic scale: Fossil Hunter Lottie got to cover everything from dinosaurs to fish, and some kind of robotic teeth death machine (we exaggerate…) to 3D printing!
Over to Emily…
I am a Professor of Palaeobiology at the University of Bristol. I’m interested in the function and evolution of animal skeletons. I run a lab with a team of PhD and MSc students, postdocs and undergraduate project students who study the evolution of the skull and feeding behaviour in living and extinct animals such as dinosaurs, birds, crocodiles, early tetrapods and mammals. We use a variety of different methods and tools to investigate how living and extinct animal skeletons function and why skeletons are shaped in a particular way. We use computed tomography (CT) scanning that employs X-rays to image the internal structure of a fossil, then create 3D digital models of anatomy for computational functional analysis. This may involve biomechanical analysis or borrowing techniques from engineering analysis to test the structural performance of the fossil. We test the accuracy of our computational analysis by studying living animal function using some neat testing rigs that our wonderful workshop construct for us. We also use methods to quantify variation in size, shape and function in groups of fossils through time and explore how the changing climate, interaction with other groups and global mass extinction events influence the diversity of animal form and function through time.
Next, Fossil Hunter Lottie travels to Wales on the sixth and final stop on her #realfossilhuntertour!
Written by Emily Rayfield (@jemilyr). All photos (c) Emily Rayfield.