Monday, 11 April 2011

Spongy paradise!

Spongy paradise! by joe with a camera
Spongy paradise!, a photo by joe with a camera on Flickr.

This is just a quick post to let you know we're off to collect more sponges. Rather than a flying visit, this will be four full days of spongiferousness, including the ecology, and collecting as much as we can of what is starting to look like the most diverse fossil sponge fauna on the planet.

You'll notice there's quite a lot of rock exposed. This is a Good Thing, and it's what we're almost invariably lacking in Wales. Beyond the annoyance factor of having to hack through brambles to find a bit of rock, it's got to severely bias the appearance of the fossil record as well. If we had the same rocks in Wales, how many species would we see? If we got a tenth of them, I'd be surprised.

Of course, that works the other way as well. One of the things we're finding in Wales is that a vast amount of really interesting stuff has just been overlooked. Sites with soft tissue preservation, or complete starfish, are not all that rare... you just have to be persistent. We're wondering how many of the sites of exceptional preservation in the world are only known due to being quarried for whatever reason. How many more are there out there? Would exceptional preservation really be all that exceptional if we had more sites like this?

For now, though, who cares? We've got sponges. For four days. That's quite a lot of them, with any luck...

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