Thursday, 7 July 2011

Fieldwork update

After a month, fieldwork is nearly over. After the two weeks in Hell's Mouth, we went fossilologising near Bala for another week. This trip has definitely been a success, although of course we have to keep quiet about our finds until they're published, so we can't tell you about the preserved intestine of a hyolith, or the nicely segmented worms, or the beautifully preserved sponges.
I can tell you that I injured my thumb on a sharp rock while hammering (nothing bad, but it did bleed alarmingly). Everyone else, while being sympathetic, then kept referring to fossils sticking out like a sore thumb, asking about rules of thumb for distinguishing sponges from random blobs, and whistling the Thumbelina song.

Tomorrow is for sorting the rocks out, putting some of them in the post to China, and sending the rest to various collaborators. After that one more day of fieldwork, and then a short holiday. We're going to Cornwall, which is mostly granite, so we won't get distracted by finding more fossils. After that, we're visiting the NHM to look at various fossils, and possibly visit some other museums/libraries as well if time allows.

In case anyone has been trying to email me: I haven't been able to access my email for a month, and I'm hoping it's just a peculiarity of the internet in this hotel, and my account isn't permanently broken. Anyway, if you've been trying to contact me, I'm not ignoring you.


Sunday, 3 July 2011

The gap in posts is because we've been in a remote part of North Wales, and haven't had internet access. This is where we were: Hell's Mouth Bay on the Llyn Peninsula. You can see that the exposure is quite good. The rock are the sandstones and mudstones of the Hell's Mouth Bay Formation, with the sandstones tending to stand out. The formation is of Early Cambrian age, so a bit older than the rocks that we normally look at. We went here because of a report from the 1950s of abundant sponge spicules throughout the beds. Our thinking was that abundant sponge spicules = complete sponges somewhere in the sequence, and this did prove to be the case, although it took a lot of work to find them.

We stayed in  a nice little holiday cottage a few hundred metres from the rocks. Thoroughly enjoyed eating British food again - the refrain of the two weeks was "I haven't eaten X in six months!" where X could be, for example, proper chips, hummous, oat cakes, vegetarian sausages...