Walking with Dinosaurs!

Last week was the Birmingham premiere of the best show currently touring the UK right now – Walking With Dinosaurs!

In a word, it was AWESOME!

The T-rex below, for example, actually had me a bit scared! The sound, man… Way more intense than watching Jurassic Park in 3D.


Not only were the dinosaurs incredibly textured and well-done that they really did look alive, but they were huge, and it was only at points where I noticed the paleontologist running around beneath them ‘for scale’ that I really became aware of the size of them. The brachiosaur was astonishing.


First off all they brought out a ‘baby’ brachiosaur, and I thought initially that this was their way of managing to avoid making a huge adult-size brachiosaur puppet, but only five minutes later, after the allosaur had given the baby a bit of grief, the paleontologist turned around to a loud booming behind the curtain.

‘What could that be? Looks like the baby’s mother is coming out to defend it…’

And a head emerged from behind the curtain. The brachiosaur had to bend to get out, and when it extended its neck fully it near reached the highest lights in the stadium.


The rocks on the stage moved around and became smoking volcanoes to symbolise the Deccan Traps as the paleontologist explained the role of flood basalts in the extinction of the dinosaurs.


Flowers popped up from the ground as the paleontologist explained that flowering plants developed much later than dinosaurs evolved.


There was a lot of meaty info, which was great for the kids in the audience, and makes me one very happy geologist. So seriously, if you have kids, or if you’re just overly enthusiastic about dinosaurs this is well worth a watch, and a great way to spend the evening!

(In fact, @thegeologyshop and I were so thrilled we got dino balloons afterwards… as you do…)


Volcanism, Impacts and Mass Extinctions Conference: the livetweets!

Last week was the Volcanism, Impacts and Mass Extinctions conference at the Natural History Museum, London. The first event under this name, it lasted three days, each packed with dozens of lectures and plenty of discussion, and brought together nearly all the main players in the field of mass extinction research. It was exciting as this field of research is often fraught with disagreements over boundary distinctions and predominant causes of extinction – you just have to go back to the whole Alvarez thing to see how difficult it first was to acknowledge that impacts could even cause an extinction, and more recently to Courtillot to see how difficult it has been to accept the role of flood basalts. Discussions are bound to get exciting, and in this aspect the conference really didn’t let me down. I am hoping to see this conference return in two years’ time.


Before I lay out what the haps were (because that section is long and requires much scrolling) I will briefly announce that I met many of my geo-heroes at this conference.

I met Gerta Keller (the event organiser) and Tony Hallam, saw Mike Benton but sadly didn’t have the chance to chat, and ran into Paul Wignall again. I also met so many cool people who answered loads of questions I had about my final year dissertation. Ace!


@DaisysGeology and I were there (along with a few other tweeps) and we livetweeted the entire event. Below follows the Storify of our report, which should provide some interesting insight into the field of mass extinction research. (NOTE: if you don’t want to scroll endlessly like it’s a tumblr blog, click on the Storify icon. Otherwise, proceed.)

[View the story “VIME13 Livetweets” on Storify]

volcano speaks

I made a hasty attempt at this wee Friday writing challence – of course with the theme being volcanoes I have added a tiny geological twist. It is heavily influenced by my first memories of being in a volcanic landscape (Vulcano, Sicily).

Here’s the original article:  http://my.telegraph.co.uk/theshortstoryclub/louiseatmyt/645/friday-challenge-the-volcano/

volcano speaks.

There’s a stratocone up ahead, swaddled in ash. There’s streets of puffed cumulus above. It’s hot but that’s offset by the fierce sporadic wind. You would imagine you’d be thinking ‘Isn’t my life strange?’ or ‘How amazing is it that I’m here?’ – but you’re not.

Emptiness of this kind doesn’t bring self-reflection, and you know this all too late, because it’s pulsing with another energy, an energy that at first seems alien but after a while its vivid colours start to seep into your own and you realise it is in fact a very, very ancient part of yourself.

A lava bomb riddled with holes – there’s a scientific word for that. The red, soft, rusted earth – there’s a scientific word for that, too. But at that moment the specifics fail you and you do nothing but sink into the picture. You’re not really aware of it and you won’t even realise it afterwards, forever describing it to people as an experience of otherness. What really happens is you become a part of it, and at the precise moment the earth opens out to you what you are really thinking is ‘How can there be so much to all this?’

The photo comes out bland; you wonder how you will convince people how alive this emptiness is.