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Exceptionally preserved fossils: Windows on the Evolution of Life

Our understanding of the history and evolution of life on Earth relies heavily on the fossil record and especially on rare cases of so-called ‘exceptional preservation’, where the soft parts of animals and entire soft-bodied animals are preserved. Such exceptionally preserved fossils provide unique insights of animal palaeobiology and the true nature of biodiversity.

The lecture will illustrate beautifully preserved fossils through geological time. It will focus especially on spectacular finds from two of the world’s most important fossil assemblages, from 530 million year old rocks in China and 425 million year old rocks in the Welsh Borderland. These deposits contain a wide range of marine animals that lived on the sea floor and in the water column, including sponges, worms, starfish, snails and other molluscs, arthropods of various kinds and the earliest known vertebrate. The fossils from the Welsh Borderland are being studied by tomographic techniques, resulting in the reconstruction of high fidelity three-dimensional ‘virtual fossils’ that furnish remarkable anatomical details of the animals. Such fossils are crucial in helping to fill gaps in our knowledge of the history of life and in helping resolve controversies about the relationships of animals still alive today.



David Siveter (University of Leicester)


David Siveter is Emeritus Professor of Palaeontology at his Alma mater, the University of Leicester. His main research interests are in Palaeozoic arthropods and stratigraphy and exceptionally preserved early Palaeozoic faunas. He has field-based research projects especially in China, central Asia, North America, and various parts of Europe. He is a former Chairman of The Micropalaeontological Society.





Date: 27 March 2013

Venue: The Geological Society, London

Speaker: David Siveter



Naomi Newbold
Tel: 020 7432 0981