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West Midlands Regional Group: February meeting

11 February 2020
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Event type:
Evening meeting, Lecture, Regional Group
Organised by:
West Midlands Regional Group
St Martin in the Bull Ring, Birmingham
Event status:

Provenance, the Search for a Source - Using Microfossils to Track the Origins of Various Items, from Paintings to Murderers

Once a fossil has been recovered, the first question we, as palaeontologists, get asked is “What is it?” This is followed shortly afterwards by the second question – “Where did it come from?” 

It’s this second question which frequently provides the more significant answers. No matter what the fossil material is, it will have a story or possible several different potential stories. It is our role as bostratigraphers to look at all those possibilities and to arrive at what we consider to be the most likely explanation for why that particular fossil or assemblage of fossils was found where it was.

Such palaeontological investigations have a whole range of different applications and the current presentation will explore just a few of these, including East Anglian Mosasaurs and possible stone theft in Norman times, through to tracking down the Soham murderer, Ian Huntley.

Alternatively, microfossils were used to help define the foundations of the Thames Barrier, to steer the tunnelling machines which cut the Channel Tunnel and more recently, they helped us understand subsurface structures along the Thames Tideway route.

There are bound to be other uses for microfossils which haven’t occurred to us yet, some probably too ridiculous to have been considered as viable. Then again some of the examples I’ll give you seemed pretty fanciful when they were first suggested.



Haydon Bailey (University of Birmingham)


The Deritend Room
St Martin in the Bull Ring
Edgbaston Street
B5 5BB

Venue details


6.00pm for a 6.30pm start


Please contact the West Midlands Regional Group via with any enquiries.