Talk by Dr Neil Clark who is Curator of Palaeontology at The Hunterian Museum, Glasgow. He recently discovered the “first” dinosaur footprints to be found on the Scottish mainland (near Inverness).
Dr Neil Clark was brought up in Geneva, Switzerland. He came to Scotland to study Geology at Edinburgh University where, after completing his degree, he became a part-time research assistant travelling around southern Scotland looking for rare 330-million-year-old (Carboniferous) fossil shrimps. At the same time, he began working as a part-time assistant curator at The Hunterian before starting his PhD in 1985. He completed his PhD on the world-famous Carboniferous Bearsden fauna in 1989 before working in interactive science centres in Edinburgh, Halifax and Glasgow. In 1990, he began working as part of a team of geological curators at The Hunterian as a result of the Earth Science Review process that amalgamated several university geology departmental collections in Scotland with The Hunterian.
In 1989, Neil began a public engagement exercise to promote geology in Scotland by instituting a national geology week. This soon evolved into a major undertaking with hundreds of events being organised across Scotland during the month of September until 2011.
Much of his early work at The Hunterian was dinosaur related beginning with the discovery of a four toed track from the Jurassic of northern England in 1990, and he was described by the Glasgow Herald as “worth his weight in sand”. Since then he has been working on dinosaur eggs from China as well as Scotland’s first dinosaurs. From 1996 to the present day, there have been new discoveries of Scottish dinosaurs, nearly every year from the Isle of Skye. In 2006 he appeared in the book of Guinness World Records with his discovery of the World’s smallest dinosaur footprint. He has now published several dinosaur books for Dorling Kindersely and Readers Digest, been consultant on a large number of children’s dinosaur books, as well as having worked on several encyclopedia and published books on Baltic amber and Scottish gold as well (Scottish Gold: Fruit of the Nation, 2016). He works on all aspects of Scotland’s fossil heritage and because of his work on Scottish Jurassic dinosaurs was nicknamed Jurassic Clark by the Times Educational Supplement.
He continues to publish on many aspects of palaeontology from a range of fossil groups and ages and has several species named after him. One of the species named after him is a coprolite that was recently named Helicocoprus clarki (“twisted faeces”).
The most recent engagement with the press was with the discovery of some dinosaur footprints on the coast near to Inverness and his crowd-funding page to help pay for the research. In the coming year, he hopes to be able to fully research these remains using a drone.
ABOUT THE TALK
Dinosaurs are now well established as part of the Jurassic fauna of Scotland. The dinosaurs that have been found on the Isle of Skye are amongst the rarest of all dinosaurs due to the world shortage of Middle Jurassic dinosaurs. Most of these remains are in the form of footprints, but there are a few skeletal remains as well. During the Middle Jurassic, many of the better known groups of dinosaurs were only just making an appearance for the first time and Scotland may be able to answer some of the questions regarding their early evolution. We have teeth and bones of an potential early ancestor of the tyrannosaurs as well as some of the early sauropods and stegosaurs. The footprints also provide evidence of a rich and diverse dinosaur fauna waiting to be uncovered by further discoveries and research. A recent discovery of dinosaur remains closer to Inverness helps to link together the major sedimentary basins of the Middle Jurassic in Britain. This exciting new discovery provides us with the first evidence of dinosaurs on the Scottish mainland.
£7.00 per person. Booking essential – please call Inverness Museum and Art Gallery on 01463 237114, or email [email protected].
Friday 30 November
6.30pm – 8pm
Inverness Town House