Scottish palaeontology in the 21st century
Tom Challands, University of Edinburgh
In 1985 Euan Clarkson from the University of Edinburgh published A brief history of Scottish palaeontology 1834—1984. Nearly 40 years on and Scotland still produces some of the most important fossil finds from anywhere in the world largely due to its richness and diversity of fossil-bearing rocks that attract workers from all over the world. Here I present some of the key palaeontological discoveries from Scotland since 1984 ranging from 1 billion year old cells to the first evidence of penetrative sex in the animal kingdom. Techniques used in palaeontological research have also developed dramatically in the last 40 years and these techniques have shed new light on many old fossils that have been worked on since the 19th century. Behind all this hard work have been various teams of international amateurs and researchers that continue to make new discoveries at home and abroad such that the palaeontological output from Scotland cannot be considered only in terms of fossils from Scotland but also as the palaeontologists working in Scotland. In the global picture, Scotland pulls far above its weight in terms of productivity and research and despite more than 200 years of active palaeontological research the number of new Scottish sites that are still being discovered, coupled with new technologies, ensures that research on fossils from Scotland will not go extinct any time soon.
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