Scotland’s Jurassic Park

Publication Date

The first fossil dinosaur reported from Scotland was a single footprint found on the Isle of Skye in the 1980s. Join Professor Brusatte to explore dinosaurs, pterodactyls, and other fossils from the Hebrides.

Around 170 million years ago, during the Jurassic Period, Scotland was part of a small island with a subtropical climate, teeming with dinosaurs and other now-extinct species. The first fossil dinosaur reported from Scotland was a single footprint found on the Isle of Skye in the 1980s.

Since then, collaborative teams of scientists from Scottish universities and museums have worked together with locals and the Staffin Museum on the Isle of Skye to discover and describe a wealth of new fossils that reveal the ancient menagerie that once called Scotland home.

At this family-friendly event, learn all about these new discoveries from Professor Steve Brusatte of the University of Edinburgh, who has conducted much of this research and written about it in his bestselling books The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs and The Rise and Reign of the Mammals.


Please note transcripts are automatically generated, so may feature errors.

Professor Martin Hendry FRSE  06:24

Okay, good evening, everyone. Fàilte and a very warm welcome to our public lecture on Scotland’s Jurassic Park. So welcome to everyone online as well. Hopefully our it will serve as well throughout the evening. My name is Martin Hendry, and I’m professor of astrophysics at the University of Glasgow, and the Vice President of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, or the RSE as you can see emblazoned on the the pop up banners here. The RSE, if you’ve not heard of it before, is Scotland’s national academy. It was founded 240 years ago for the advancement of learning and useful knowledge. And our modern mission really remains the same, it remains exactly that to provide independent expert advice to policymakers, and to inspire the next generation of innovative thinkers. And it’s very much the latter that we’re going to be doing this evening. Tonight’s lecture is part of a weekend of workshops, discussions and outreach events that’s been organised in partnership with the UHI and with Highlands and Islands enterprise, and it’s part of our ‘Islands – past, present and future’ series. And if you’re able, you’re most welcome to join us in person tomorrow. At Sabhal Mòr Ostaig at 930 to about five o’clock, for a full day of exploring and discussing and reflecting on this theme of islands past, present and future. But for tonight’s event, well, what better way to inspire the next generation of innovative thinkers than through the study of dinosaurs, and we’re really honoured and so pleased to welcome as our speaker for this evening, a true world leader in that field. So Professor Steve Brussatte, he’s an American palaeontologist. In fact, Professor of palaeontology and evolution at the University of Edinburgh. He’s a specialist on the anatomy, genealogy and evolution of dinosaurs, and for a decade has led fieldwork expeditions to Skye and other Hebridean islands to search for Jurassic aged fossils. He’s the author of the international bestseller, The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs and the Rise and Reign of the Mammals. And he was the palaeontology consultant for Jurassic World Dominion. He’s named more than 20 new species, including the Tyrannosaurus Pinocchio Rex, that up Tor and gen one long and the sky pterosaur and jet ski Ohana and apologies for my mispronunciation. So without further ado, let’s welcome Steve to give tonight’s lecture at Scotland’s Jurassic Park, the Isle of Skye and new fossil discoveries.

Professor Steve Brusatte  09:13

All right, well, thank you very much for that kind introduction. Thank all of you for being here on a Friday, early evening, especially all the young ones and everybody who’s joining us online welcome as well. I certainly have no advice to policymakers through studying dinosaurs, but I do hope to inspire a little bit. Those of you in the audience and to tell you about some of our work our work digging up dinosaurs and studying Jurassic age fossils, things that are 170 million years old that come from right here on the Isle of Skye. So we’re here, we’re all here. For me the Isle of Skye has always had this really mythical name to it. When I started studying palaeontology in America back 20 years ago or so when I was in university, I heard of the Isle of Skye, I heard that there were these fossils that were starting to be found here of dinosaurs. I didn’t know the whole story. But I glean that it was only in the 1980s, actually, that the very first dinosaur fossil was found on this magical sounding place the Isle of Skye, the very first one in Scotland as a matter of fact. And that would have been around the time I was born, which shocked me, I remember when hearing about it. And it’s an amazing thing when you think of I mean, there were people digging up dinosaur bones and giving them names and putting them on displays in museums across Europe and in England, in America, in the 1800s. It took Scotland a little bit of time to catch up, but we are catching up. We are we’re finding a lot of new fossils here. And when it comes down to it, there’s just not a whole lot of places in Scotland, where there’s rocks of the right age and the right type that might have dinosaur bones. But the Isle of Skye is the sweet spot because on this beautiful island, these enchanted landscapes here, especially along the east coast north of Portree those rocks, many of them are Jurassic age rocks, and they have fossils in them. So Little did I ever know when I was growing up in America and starting to study palaeontology in America that one day, I would make my way to this place of magic, the Isle of Skye. And for 10 years we have, ever since I started my job in Edinburgh, we’ve been coming here coming up here, and finding new fossils. To me, Skye is one of the most beautiful places in the world. And I it never gets old coming up here, whether it’s to do field work and look for fossils, whether it’s to come up here for lectures like this, because the landscape is unbelievably stunning. There’s a reason why all these Hollywood films are filmed here. And for me, I grew up in the middle part of America, and it is literally flat for like 1000 miles in each direction and where I’m from covered cornfields and bean fields, that’s about it, Chicago, somewhere in the distance. And to be able to live in a country like Scotland, and to be able to do work here in this sort of landscape is thrilling, and it does never get old. And I should say we’ve completely really, we’ve we’ve we love our new home in Scotland, not really a new home anymore. We felt very welcome here. I’m a dual citizen. Now. As you’ll see later, I have a little toddler very much a Scottish boy. So it’s been a great privilege for me to be welcomed here to this country, and to have the opportunity to dig up some dinosaurs. Okay. Right. So let’s talk about those dinosaurs. So dinosaurs lived during three intervals of Earth history, the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous period. So this was a span from about 250 Until about 66 million years ago was 66 million years ago, when that asteroid came down and made a sudden, brutal end to the age of dinosaurs. But if you want to find dinosaurs, you have to go to places in the world where there’s rocks that were formed during those periods of time, and rocks that were formed in the kind of places where dinosaurs lived. So dinosaurs lived near rivers and lakes, and they lived in forests and on mudflats, and they lived along the beaches and in lagoons. So you need to find rocks, usually rocks that have hardened out of the sand and mud in those areas that might have dinosaur bones or footprints in them. And it turns out that we know quite a lot about the earliest dinosaurs. There’s a lot of fossils from all over the world of Triassic dinosaurs and dinosaurs from the early Jurassic. And these tell us that dinosaurs actually started very small and very humble. The first ones didn’t look anything like a T Rex or a Brontosaurus. They were not at the top of the food chain. They didn’t shake the earth as they walked. They were basically small reptiles that range from the size of a cat to the size of a horse with maybe a few kind of getting up to giraffe size. That was it for the first like 50 million years of dinosaur evolution of dinosaurs in their close relatives. So we have a lot of fossils of those dinosaurs. We also have a lot of fossils of dinosaurs from the late Jurassic into the Cretaceous. And these are the famous dinosaurs the Brontosaurus is and Stegosaurus is from the late Jurassic, the T rexes and Triceratops from the Cretaceous. These are the dinosaurs that are big, and dominant and awe inspiring, maybe a little bit scary. But these are the ones we all think of when we think of dinosaurs. What we don’t have a lot of fossils of from anywhere in the world are dinosaurs from the middle part of the Jurassic, the ones that really tell us how these small early humble dinosaurs became the awesome dinosaurs that we all know and love. And why is that? It’s just bad luck. It’s the bad luck of geology. There’s not many rocks of that age, that have fossils in them from anywhere around the world, only a handful of places. But one of those places is right here on Skye. And that as a scientist is what makes me really excited. It’s not just that there’s dinosaurs here in Scotland. That’s cool, of course, on its own. But it’s that these dinosaurs have a really important story to tell palaeontologists around the world are interested in these dinosaurs, because they help us understand how dinosaurs rose up to become the dominant animals that we all know. So there’s a lot of different dinosaurs that we have on Sky. These are some of them, and I’ll tell you a little bit more about them. But basically, all of the famous types of dinosaurs that you’ve heard of the ones the big ones with the big bellies and the long necks, what we call the sauropod dinosaurs, the Brontosaurus Diplodocus dinosaurs, we have their fossils here on Skye, the Stegosaurs the ones with the plates on their backs, we have their fossils on Skye, and the theropods, the meat eating dinosaurs, that’s the group T Rex and Velociraptor the group actually, that gave rise to birds, the ancestors of birds are theropods. We have their fossils here, too. So as I’m doing this talk, I want you to just imagine this lost world 170 million years ago, in the Jurassic period when these types of animals would have lived right here. And it was a time when Skye was very different from today, incredibly different. It was still an island at that time, it was shaped a bit differently. But the supercontinent Pangea, which existed in the Triassic period had only just begun to break apart, it started to break apart, and the Atlantic Ocean came to fill that gap and the oceans gotten wider over time. But at the time, these dinosaurs were living on Skye, that Atlantic Ocean was very narrow. And there was an island in the middle of it. That was ancient Scotland. And believe it or not, but I swear to you, it’s true, that back then Scotland was a little bit closer to the equator. But the temperature around the world as a whole was so much greater that this Scottish Island was subtropical. I know that’s impossible to believe, looking here today. But imagine Spain, you know, Canary Island parts of California, something like that. That’s the world that these dinosaurs were living in. And we find their fossils. Again, this isn’t just a story, this is something we know. And it’s something we’ve learned since those first discoveries in the 1980s. The first discovery, by the way, a single footprint that fell off of a block of rocket brothers point north, the Portree from that moment until today, less than 40 years really, we’ve learned a whole lot. That’s because these rocks really are bursting with fossils, if you have the patience to look for them, and you know what to look for. So every year, one of the great joys of my job is that I bring my team up to Skye, of course we were sidetracked a bit by the pandemic like everybody, but we’ve become here so many times, and I bring my students here, these are trips where we go out to look for new fossils, but we also use these trips to train our students and how to find fossils. And how to excavate those fossils, how to conserve those fossils. And so these are just some photos here of some of the work that we’ve done. And you can see that a lot of the work that we do is along the coast, the best rocks with these dinosaur bones and other fossils are along the east coast north of Portree. So we’re always battling the tides, we can only work at low tide or low ish tide. Of course, you all know the elements here, the wind and the rain, and the cold even for me coming from the Chicago area, I still find it cold when we come out and do fieldwork this time of year. You can see here we’re using some tools to get the fossils out. And that’s because the rocks are very, very hard. Some of you may know that there’s all these ancient volcanoes on Sky. These volcanoes came much after the dinosaurs, but those volcanoes essentially acted like an oven that baked the rocks that have the dinosaur bones in them. So we can’t just use hammers and chisels to get the bones out like maybe you see on television, if you’ve seen a show on NatGeo or discovery. We have to cut the bones out of the rock either with small cutting tools, if they’re small bones. That’s Mogi. They’re one of our students, by the way, who came from Nigeria to study with us and Edinburgh because the fossils here are so famous, she studied the fossil fish, she’s cutting some bones out, we have to use bigger tools to get the dinosaur bones out. And that’s Dugie Ross, who I mentioned in a moment, who runs the Staffin Museum cutting a bone out with his diamond tip saw and we use drones there in the upper right to fly over these fossils sites and map them so that we have a good record of the rocks and of the fossils and what they look like out in the field. So we do all of this work all the time. And again, my students do a lot of this work. My students always find the best fossils. Some of my students, in fact, have just been out over the last 10 days or so. Finding and mapping new files sights. None of this work that we do wouldn’t be possible without Dugie Ross. Now, some of you must know. Do you know Dugie here? Right when I come to Skye no matter who I meet they say Do you know Dugie? Yeah Dugie, the guy who runs the museum? So Dugie grew up up near Staffin and grew up in a Gaelic speaking household and he went into a career in building and in crofting, really following the family trades there. But when he was a teenager, he became really interested, I would say obsessed with the history of Skye of his of his home island. And he started to collect artefacts across the island, and then that transitioned into an interest in the pre history of the island. So not just the archaeological artefacts, not just the, you know, old crofting implements and the Highland Clearances, artefacts and the old Roman coins and those kinds of things. But fossils stuff from the Jurassic, and Dewey started to accumulate so many things that he put his own museum together. And he built the staff and museum up on the main a road north a Portree. And when I say he built it, I mean, he literally built it. He took the ruins of a 19th century one room schoolhouse and put them back together into a museum. He is the only person I know, that has literally built his own museum. And he continues of course to run that museum. And a lot of the fossils that we find go to that museum, Dougie is always out looking for fossils, and he’s a great liaison with tourists that may find fossils or locals that may see something interesting. So none of this work that we do is possible without Dugie. He’s a dear friend of ours. And for me, as you know, an outsider coming in from America, just some random young ish guy looking to start my career here. It was really kind of up to Dugie. You know, Dugie could have said, No, I don’t have time for you. But he welcomed me and my students and we’ve been dear friends ever since. So please do visit the Staffin Museum say hi to Dugie. Alright, so there’s a lot to I could say about the dinosaurs here, I’m gonna give you some some little snippets, I’m going to tell you a few stories of a few of our discoveries that will together paint the picture of what these dinosaurs were like, what their world was like, why they’re important. And the first place I want to take you to is up to Duntulum. So way at the northeastern tip of the island, way north of Portree and Staffin and if you continue up, and this is where the ruins of the castle are that some of you may know. And I’m not I’m not too far from the castle when I was taking this photo. And one of the trips we did a few years back. It’s a beautiful day. I mean, you look at the blue sky there and it just looks like a absolutely gorgeous day. And you’re probably wondering, like, why am I up on the hill? You know, taking a photo of the coast. Why am I not looking for fossils taking advantage of the good weather? Well, the problem is that that’s high tide. And we have to wait for the tide to go down when the tide goes down. That coastline turns into this rock platform that juts out about 100 metres or so into those very cold waters. And we went to done to them because a geologist friend of ours found a tiny little jawbone just about an inch long. And he showed it to me and I said, that’s a jawbone there’s teeth in there. Oh my goodness. So that told us there were fossils there. So of course we went there. Maybe we’ll find another job. Maybe we’ll find a skull maybe we’ll find a skeleton for maybe we’ll find a new species of dinosaur we were very excited. But I kid you not. I mean, we were there all day on our hands and knees scrutinising that rock platform for as long as we could with the tides. And we were finding nothing just some little fish teeth and fish bones. So it was a very frustrating day. I must say and honestly a lot of days like are like that when you’re looking for dinosaur fossils not easy to find dinosaurs you know, you don’t just go out and find a new species of dinosaur every time you go looking. I mean it takes time it takes patience, you have to be persistent. And this was shaping up just to be one of those days one of those bad days. It is and we so we decided to call it quits about six o’clock or so you know the tide was starting to come in it was we’re getting hungry. So we decided to just go back to our to our hostel and and as we were doing so we started to look at these tide pools on that platform. You can see some of them here. They’re these big circles. Each one’s about the size of a car tire. And at first we didn’t think much of them. You know, they were tide pools. It had seaweed and algae and hermit crabs and barnacles and all the normal stuff of the Scottish seaside. But the more we looked at them, the more we thought, well this is kind of strange, like there were actually over 100 of these on the rock platform. They were all kind of the same size and shape, which was odd to us. And then we started to see there was a pattern to some of them like a left right zigzagging pattern. Then we saw that some of those holes were actually filled with a different rock that was harder it was more resistant so it stood out Like a cast or like a model, and that showed that those holes actually had shaped to them, you might see the top there, there’s these little bumps, you know, 1234, which is kind of puzzling. And then we saw, some of them were actually really well preserved in sequence. So there was indeed a left right sequence of them. And they were paired together, there was a bigger horseshoe shaped one with a smaller crescent moon shaped one in front. So this was peculiar. These weren’t just any old normal tide pools. And so we started to think we’ve seen things like this before. Well, these things as it turned out, were fossils. This was a good day, this was a great day. In the field, we wanted to find a dinosaur skeleton, we didn’t find a dinosaur skeleton. But we did find dinosaur fossils, fossils made by these types of dinosaurs, but not the bones, not the teeth. These were the footprints in the handprints that these dinosaurs left behind 170 million years ago, when they were just going about their everyday life just walking around, and actually splashing around in the shallow water of a lagoon, as it turns out. And so these things are big. Remember, these each each footprint is the size of a car tyre. And it’s really, these are the only animals that have ever lived in the history of the Earth that, you know, every time their hand or foot touched the ground, they left a hole the size of a car tire. These dinosaurs were the size of about three elephants put together. And they were some of the first truly giant dinosaurs that ever lived anywhere on the earth. Remember, the dinosaurs from the Triassic early Jurassic that we know from other places in the world are mostly small. The dinosaurs that came later in the Jurassic in the Cretaceous get huge. Some of these long neck ones in the Cretaceous. They got heavier than Boeing 737 aeroplanes, we’re talking 50 60 70 tonnes and actual animal, but these ones that left their tracks on Skye, there’s some of the first records of these dinosaurs becoming true giants. Now we keep finding new fossil footprints and handprints as we look around Skye. And we’re using drones. This is really why we use the drones to map those track sites because it’s not like we’re going to dig up the like huge kind of 100 metres Quino metre area or something like that, that’s not going to happen. So. So we want to take really good photos really good measurements make a really good record. And so my student Paige who came here to study a master’s degree with us we have a one year master’s programme in in Edinburgh that I started along with Professor Rachel Wood, who’s a very eminent palaeontologist, one of the world’s experts on the origin of animals long before there were even dinosaurs. But Rachel and I started this programme. We’ve been doing it for almost a decade now. And Paige was one of the first students that came, she came over from America to study with us, and she has a geology background, but also an engineering background. So she really likes flying the drones, tweaking with the drones, even building some of our own contraptions to really map these track sights. And by mapping them in that detail, we can learn a lot more. It’s not just that we have some dinosaur footprints, but we can measure them precisely to get an estimate of the size of the dinosaur, we can see the spacing between the tracks, that tells us how fast the dinosaurs were moving. So if you think about it, if you’re making footprints on a beach, let’s say if you’re walking very slow, the footprints will be close together, if you’re running, there’ll be far apart. So we can actually make those measurements of the tracks to gauge how fast the dinosaurs were moving. And we can also tell the environments they were living in from the rocks. And so we do this type of work as much as we can, it can be very challenging to fly those drones on a windy day, which is most of the days here. But even just last week, some of our students were out flying drones. What we know from the Duntulum site is that it was these dinosaurs, these giant long neck dinosaurs that were making those footprints, and they were making them as they were walking in very shallow water, we can tell that because the rocks they are in our rocks that were formed in a lagoon. So if you imagine Jurassic Skye, subtropical, with these crystal blue lagoons, and these giant dinosaurs, wading through very shallow water, we’re probably talking about maybe a foot or two or two feet of water. They’re very close to the shore. But that’s the picture to conjure up. And we imagine those lagoons look something like this. This is a scene that was painted by a great artist named John Holt, he’s another dear friend of ours. He’s from Perth, and he’s one of the world’s best artists at really bringing these ancient environments to life through art. And what John has envisioned here is a story that we can actually glean from the rocks that these dinosaurs lived in lagoons. There were frequent storms that hit these lagoons. And John has imagined this world where a storm has just hit, the storm is broken, the grey clouds are starting to recede. And these big dinosaurs are waiting out into the water, to get food to eat seaweed, basically, to fuel their massive bulk. These things were so big, they probably had to eat about 400 pounds of plants every single day. So here they are going out into lagoon. And then there’s other dinosaurs lurking. And there’s one in the foreground, a menacing one, just about the size of a human, but one with sharp teeth and sharp claws. And that’s another type of dinosaur that we know from here on the island Skye, which I’ll talk about in a minute. It was fun when we, when we found this site, we wrote up a scientific paper and described it. And you know, the press caught wind. It was in the newspapers, there’s all kinds of tabloid hyperbole, which was a whole lot of fun. And we were a bit cheeky with it. And we call that the dinosaur disco, you know, felt like it had a good ring to it. What we wanted to convey was this footprints, it was kind of like a dance floor. It was a record of these dinosaurs just moving around milling about interacting with each other that was captured in stone for 170 million years. And it still is the largest dinosaur fossils site in Scotland, just in terms of the area that it covers. There’s over 150 tracks, handprints and footprints of this site, which is really cool. But there’s others, there’s other footprints sites too. And we keep finding new ones, especially around brothers point, which is farther south from dawn till them along the east coast. And this is a great place to work. There’s a whole lot of Jurassic rocks there. And here’s Paige actually making some notes on a track site that another of our students Davide, who actually came from Italy to study with us. So you can see there’s all kinds of great young international students that are coming to Scotland to study palaeontology, which I think is awesome. But Davide found the site when he was out with us and pages is making some some notes there. And the types of tracks that we have at brothers point, we actually have a few different track sites that one of them, we have these tracks, and I know that just looks like a photo of, you know, a rock platform, those outlines can give you a sense of how we see pattern, kind of in the chaos there. And the important thing is these things, there’s handprints and footprints, but they’re quite small, you know, dinner plate size are smaller. And from the shape of those we can tell, they match the feet of stegosaur. Dinosaurs, the ones with the plates on their backs. And that’s how we do it, by the way, whether it’s with the big sauropods, or the stegosaurs. You might say, Okay, who made this hole in the ground? What do we do? We do the Cinderella thing, and we look for which dinosaurs feet match those tracks. And so here, it’s Stegosaurus. So this tells us there were stegosaurs on the island scanner, we have a few bones of stegosaurs, too, but many more footprints. We have another side on the island Skye where there’s more tracks of those giant, long neck dinosaurs, including some that are really good toe impressions, that really helped tell us how big these animals were, and help us better match the feet of certain dinosaurs to to these tracks. And then we have another place that brother’s point where we have this weird type of track where there’s three toes. Now there’s a few ways you can get tracks with only three toes. The meat eating dinosaurs left those kinds of footprints. So the Raptor dinosaurs, the Tyrannosaurus dinosaurs, but those ones they have pretty narrow toes, and they’re pointed at the end because they had claws. And we do find those kinds of tracks too. But this one, these are big blunt toes, like ones that have hooves at the end. And so this track was made by an early duck billed dinosaur. One of those dinosaurs, like his name says it had a big old kind of bill like a duck. And they were expert plant eaters, they just chopped through plants, and some of them got to be quite big as well. So really, what we’re seeing from these footprint sites is that there’s all these different kinds of dinosaurs that were once living here, the big long neck ones, the meat eating ones, the stegosaurs, with the plates on their backs, the duck billed dinosaurs, and they were all living on the beaches in the lagoons on the mudflats of this ancient subtropical island. So here’s another John Hode piece of art here showing that menagerie of dinosaurs that once lived in Scotland. And again, we know all of this from actual fossils that we find right here. Largely the footprints and handprints but we also do have bones of a lot of these animals too. And you can see some of those into his museum. That was not only the dinosaurs though, there were other things that lives here in the Jurassic the dinosaurs, no doubt at that point were dominating the land. There were big ones like those long neck dinosaurs. There were mean ones at the top of the food chain, like some of those with sharp teeth and claws. But other stuff was happening off shore of that island in the water. And other stuff was happening up in the air above the heads of these dinosaurs. And we have other fossil clues that tell us what was happening in the air and in the sea. And some of these come from berry bay from right near the power station. And there were some fossils that were found actually in the late 50s. Long before a few decades before the first dinosaur is found here. And they were found by Brian Shaw cross. That’s Brian. Now that’s what Brian looks like, more recently, but he was a student when he found them. And he brought him home. He kept him safe. And he did a great thing. He donated them to the Hunterian Museum in Glasgow. Nowadays, there’s laws that protect the fossils here on Skye, you need a permit if you’re going to collect dinosaur bones. And that helps that really helps prevent damage and vandalism and so on. But back then those laws didn’t exist. So Brian could have done anything you wanted with those fossils. He could have kept them at home. He could have sold them to somebody, there’s no eBay back then. But you could have just sold them to anybody. You could own anything, but he donated them to a museum. The Hunterian in Glasgow, and nobody really in Scotland at that time was a specialist and academic specialists on these Jurassic animals. But nowadays, because we have this expertise with me and my students, we were able to take a look at these bones and say, well, these things come from a reptile, but not a dinosaur, a different type of reptile one that lived in the water when dinosaurs lived on land, this type of reptile and what we call an Ichthyosaur. And I know this thing looks kind of like a dolphin or a big fish, but it’s actually a reptile and it looks like a fish because it lived a similar lifestyle as a fish. It was a really good swimmer, so it had flippers and had a long snout for grabbing its prey, which were fish and squid. And so these types of animals lived here in Scotland, they were the ones that ruled the waves when dinosaurs dominated the land. And, of course, when we studied Ryan’s fossils and published a paper on these things, we gave them a name, we decided to give them a name because they’re unique. There’s nothing else in the world that has the detailed features of those bones. And we decided to give it a Gaelic name. And nobody had really done that before. A full on Galelic name. So Dugie Ross, who again is a native Gaelic speech so so he’s fluent in the language. So he had some ideas, but he actually came down here to the Gaelic college to talk to some of the lectures just to make sure that he got the perfect combination of words. So we decided to name this thing Yark vara Dearc sgiathanach. Which, of course, I don’t know how many of you are Gaelic speakers. I am not I learned the pronunciation as best I can. So my apologies if I’m butchering that, but it’s it basically means marine reptile. And the press got you know, wind of it and of course, played the Loch Ness monster cards. So that was a fun thing to see in the tabloids Nestle’s cousin, palaeontologist finds a real Nessie and all that. So it was fun, you know, maybe a little bit, you know, kitschy here, but I think actually a good opportunity to reach people to communicate through the press this way to let people know that yeah, whatever is living in Loch Ness today, whatever’s going on there, the reality is there were definitely sea monsters here in the Jurassic period. And we find their actual fossils. Now, when we announced the discovery of Brian’s new species of Yark vara. A few days later, I got an email from somebody who saw a news article in one of the local newspapers up in the highlands about it. And his name was Alan Gillis, and he sent me as an attachment to this email this letter and this photo. His father ran the Barrick Bay power station in the 60s. And one day when he was out walking along the coast, he noticed these bones sticking out of the rock, they looked like a stack of coins, but big coins, maybe think of them like a stack of dinner plates. And he recognised them as the backbone of some kind of reptile. He wrote a letter to what was then the Royal Scottish museum now the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh. And some people from the museum came out here to collect it and they did collect it. They brought it back to Edinburgh, but they put it away in the collections. And it was kind of forgotten about and that’s not a bad thing, by the way. This isn’t you know, dusty old museum ignores fossil. No, no. The whole point of museums is to keep secure and save important cultural, historical, natural heritage. Because back then there was nobody in Scotland that could really study this. But when he tipped us off, we went through the collections. We found it in the storehouse, and we set to work on it. And a little bit later, we got it all cleaned up, and we unveiled it at the National Museum. And we could see this was another Ichthyosaur another one of those reptiles that looked like a fish. And this one was pretty big. The whole skeleton is about the size of a speedboat. So it was imagine you know, a boat size of small boat size reptile with big sharp teeth, just swimming around lurking in the waters offshore. There’s other things that lived closer to the shore. And we found some of their bones very tantalising little ones very close to Dugie’s museum very close to Kilt rock you can actually see the waterfall off in the distance there. There’s Dugie on a very misty day out with us, looking for fossils in the boulders that have fallen off the cliff. And somehow, some way, my colleague Tom challans, who was with me, when we found the Don Tolan footprints really we notice them together and recognise them together. This one was all time on his own. I don’t know how we saw this little bone is only a couple of centimetres long. He saw it in a big block of alto sandstone, it turns out to be a jawbone. You can see the little holes for teeth in the middle set of images there. And we can tell us a jawbone of a little crocodile, just about the size of like a miniature poodle. And it was those pesky little crocs that lived near shore, in the shallow waters of the lagoon. So you’re starting to see I think this whole ecosystem emerged all these dinosaurs on the land, these big scary reptiles off shore, these pesky little crocs near shore. But what about the sky? What was happening in the sky on Skye in the Jurassic period? Well, as far as we know, there were no birds yet. Birds evolved from dinosaurs from mediating theropod dinosaurs a little bit later in the Jurassic. And there were no bats yet bats are of course, mammals. And they evolved much more recently after the dinosaurs died. But there were things that were flying around in the air. And we knew very little about what those animals were until one of our students Amelia Penny here made what I think is by far, the most amazing fossil discovery ever on the Isle of Skye, and one of the most important in the history of Scotland. 2017 We were out as a team. And Amelia was one of the students on the crew. This is a prime example. And I say that students always find the best fossils. So Amelia was walking along the coast at low tide, she saw something unusual in the rock. And that’s what she’s down there scrutinising right next to that white strip that’s actually a ruler that we put in there to take photographs. So we could you know, see how big it was. But she noticed this peculiar thing. And that’s what she saw. And it’s the skull of a pterodactyl of pterodactyls, or pterosaurs is the the formal name, these were the things that flew around over the heads of dinosaurs. And how do we know it was a pterodactyl? Well, what you’re seeing there is the skull kind of preserved from the bottom, it’s been sheared a bit by the waves and the tide. But what you’re seeing to the far right there, it ends in this sharp point that’s a beak. What you’re seeing near the beat, there’s a bunch of little circles or ovals, those are teeth that are just cut. So you’re seeing them just cut. And then we can actually follow the whole skull back it’s hard to see but we can see the eye socket towards the back we can even see the area where the brain wants to see the complete skull of a pterodactyl and that’s when the fun start. That’s when the fun started. So we call up Dugie he came down with one of his rock saws. And we started to remove the rock around to try to cut this skull out. And as we did so, the rock started to split just naturally as rock does. And it split along a plane of weakness in the rock, a plane of weakness that was defined that was caused by a bunch of bones. So there were more bones and we could see and this was actually the moment the moment captured just serendipitously by one of the crew were Dugie pulled this block up showed it to me and we realised what we had. This is genuine. This is imposed and we are like overjoyed because we see now the part of the body of this pterodactyl so now we have a skull. We are part of a body. We probably have a skeleton. Oh my goodness. So now okay, we got to change our strategy. What are we going to do? We got to get the skeleton out. So, Dougie starts cutting around the perimeter. Now it’s a pretty big perimeter with his rock solid. And as he’s doing so that we know the tide is starting to come in. But it’s still off far enough we can, we can get the fossil out. But as Dugie’s, cutting the fossil, we hear the shouts in the distance, stop, stop, stop. We have no idea who’s calling us and we see these two figures approaching. And it’s an older couple. And I kid you not they yell out to us stop. Show us your papers. Which as an immigrant to this country that kind of made me think, oh, what? So Dugie put down his saw. And we call them over. And they said, Do you have a permit? To do this? We said, Of course we have a permit to do this. You know, we always get permits, we need to get permits, we get them through what’s now NatureScot, the the government agency, and they said, Can we see a copy of your permit? And we said, well, I don’t think we have in any of the bags here. It’s up in the car, it’s on our computer. And they said, Well, we’re gonna have to stop you. And we said, Wait a minute, who are you? They didn’t show a badge or anything they were they looked like they were in their 70s this couple. And they were and they said they started to give us a lecture. Do you know there’s a lot of illegal collecting in this area. And these fossils are priceless natural heritage of Scotland. And we said yeah, we know, you know, we’re at the University and the museum. And so, and then, a couple minutes into the spiel, Dugie looks at him and says, I recognise you guys, you guys came by the museum the other day, didn’t you? And I was talking to you about the fossils. And I was telling you that there is some illegal collecting and so on. And that’s what it was. But they took it to heart. They literally tried to like make us citizens arrest of us. They were like the keystone cops. They were retired couple from England. And they thought they were saving the world. It was kind of funny in hindsight, and it is kind of funny, you know, this, this couple went on. We had a you know, was walking with a cane, it was actually quite farcical. But the problem was this took about 15 minutes to sort out. And meanwhile, what’s happening is the tide is rising, the tide is rising, as they are talking and talking and we can’t get rid of them. Well, by the time Dugie can start cutting again, the water is really encroaching now it’s getting very, very close. And he’s working as hard as he can. But we know we have something that’s never been found in Scotland before. We have to cut this out properly. No shortcuts. But we also are terrified. What happens if the tide comes up and covers it. So Dugie was working as fast as he could. He was getting close to getting it out. But the water came up. And it was heartbreaking. Absolutely heartbreaking. As that water came up to our feet to our ankles and lapped over the fossil. And we couldn’t get it out in time, all we were able to do was take all the glue that we had with us and just dump it all over. Which is not what you ever want to do when you’re collecting a fossil. But we thought this is the only way we can try to even keep these bones intact from the tide. And so what could we do? I mean, we were almost in tears. What we decided to do was to come back at the next low tide, which happened to be midnight. But we thought maybe the tide would be low enough by about 1030 or 11 if we were able to get there Now luckily, this was early June. So there was quite a lot of daylight. And so we did, we came back. And this is actually a photo taken you can see that one of our guys there as his headlamp on so he’s kind of been flashed out of it, but it’s getting a bit dark, but there’s still enough light. And we we stood there and we watched the water recede off of that fossil. And as that water just inched back out to the sea, we could see these blobs of glue emerge. And we could see that that glue had held and the bones were still there and so are despair. And like the six hours we had to wait in between which was just absolutely brutal. Suddenly just turned the giddiness we had this fossil. It was there and it only took Dougie about 10 minutes to finish the job to get it out. And here he is. We’ve just lifted the slab now. Then our happiness once again turn to not despair but some frost stration because this thing is really heavy. This thing probably weighed about two or 300 kilos. So what could we do with it? Well, we had to wait until the next morning when there was proper light. And then a bunch of us took turns lifting it up off of the beach. And you can see there’s Dugie. And there’s some of the others, we got the biggest, biggest people in the crew there. And there I am, you know, in the back kind of supervising. Now I’m carrying my part of the load. And so we bring it up to the beach. And this thing is so heavy. I mean, it is we’re terrified of dropping it now. And we load it up on a wheelbarrow, a petrol powered wheelbarrow from Dugie’s neighbour, Steve, another Steve. There, which is good, because we’re down at this is that brothers point, I should say. And we’re down at the coast. And if those of you that know, brothers point, you know, there’s a long steep walk back up hill takes about 20 minutes, and you basically have to go to the top of the cliffs, you know, and there is a path, but carrying this thing up would have been almost impossible. So the wheelbarrow was great. And we very slowly brought this thing up the hill very slowly. And we brought it back to Edinburgh, and we cleaned it up and we put it all together. And that’s what it looks like and all of its glory. Not all of the bones are there because some of the bones are in that other piece that split. And then the tips of the wings are missing. But what you have here is the skeleton. It’s about 70% Complete, remarkable completeness and preservation of a pterodactyl, the first one from Scotland. And as a matter of fact, the first good skeleton of a pterodactyl from anywhere in Britain since the days of Mary Anning, and some of you may know Mary Anning probably the greatest fossil collector ever, who lived down in Lyme Regis, she found some of the very first pterosaurs ever, she had a just an unnatural eye for fossils. And then she died tragically very young of cancer. And when she died, basically, the discoveries dried up until Amelia found this. And it’s an incredible fossil. It’s an amazing fossil. We named it as a new species just a little over a year ago. And once again, Dugie came here to the Gaelic college to talk to the lecturers to come up with a good name. And we gave it a Gaelic name Dearc sgiathanach. And again, apologies for butchering that for you Gaelic speakers out there, but it basically means winged reptile from Skye. And because the Gaelic name of sky is you know, the wind dial, it fits you know, it’s got this double meaning which we thought was really cool. This was an incredible animal. Not only is it a new species, it’s only known from Scotland. It is one of the only good pterodactyl fossils from the middle part of the Jurassic from anywhere in the world. And this big, its head is bigger than like the head of a seagull much bigger. And its wings when they were stretched out would have been about eight feet wide, so that’s wider than a king size bed. Until Amelia found this fossil, nobody thought that any pterodactyl, in any part of the Jurassic period, got to have a wingspan of more than about five feet or so. So this is the biggest one from the Jurassic that’s known. At the time this animal was flying over the heads of the dinosaurs here in ancient Scotland. It was the biggest thing that had ever flown in the whole history of the Earth as far as we know. And another my students Natalia has done her PhD on the fossil, Amelia was finishing her degree and She studies the origin of animals with Rachel Wood. So we basically handed the fossil over to a really good new PhD student Natalia she had come from Poland when she was about nine or 10 years old. And she is not only a great scientist, but a fantastic artists. This is her own artwork showing how we envision these pterodactyl to have looked. And it was again about a year ago, we unveiled it at the National Museum of Scotland. Coincidentally, on the day Russia invaded Ukraine, which was, you know, a tragic day for so many people. But one of the weird things that happened that day is it kind of became the good news story and like the British news and actually internationally, too, and at the end of the broadcasts about the war, and it was it was covered by journalists around the world. And my parents called me up living in central Illinois, many 1000s of miles away and they said there’s a picture of your student in our newspaper. She was holding the skull of Yark from the unveiling at the museum. And so there I am, and that’s Amelia there who of course, found the fossil. And then we have Nick Fraser there in the mass pointing out Nick is a fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh very eminent palaeontologists, the dear part of our team, he’s the keeper of the one of the head guys at the National Museum in Edinburgh. And they’re in the back back turn, that’s Natalia, who led the study doing your PhD on it, she’s giving an interview to some journalists. So this is a whole lot of fun to unveil it. And of course, the press picked up on it again, you know, and it wasn’t just the good news item at the end of the bulletins, but also the tabloids picked up on it. And this was just really cool. And especially neat, you know, it’s always neat when our fossils hit the newspaper or something. And you can see, you know, some pictures of Natalia there, there’s  me in the corner, not for us. And we’ll Nicola above that. And there’s, you know, another Natalia there, you know, for a student who’s just kind of getting started amazing thing, you know, to have your research make this kind of impact. And that’s really the latest, that’s really the latest new discovery. But we have, as you’re seeing, we have the dinosaurs from the land, the repped of the crocs, and the igneous or reptiles from the sea. The pterodactyl is in the air living on the Island, and we keep learning more. And we really do keep learning new things when we go out. And the thing that’s just really touching for me is that, you know, I’m leading these teams and making these discoveries working with my students, as I’m making my life here in Scotland. As I mentioned, you know, we have a young son, and this is our little boy, Anthony. And this is Anthony, at one of the dinosaur track sites, basically playing around in the footprints of one of these duck billed dinosaurs. This was in August of 2020. He was born just a little bit before COVID started, of course, just a horrendous time for everybody. We were cooped up, you know, for months of lockdown with a tiny newborn baby. Some of you were too I think it was not fun for anybody. But as soon as the lockdown is lifted, and we could get out of Edinburgh, we came to Skye, we made a little family holiday took Anthony out to see some of the track sites. And we keep coming back Anthony’s here right now he’s a little bit late for his bedtime. Now I think he’s watching Winnie the Pooh now and just getting ready to go to bed. But we brought them out a few other times we came out last summer with my parents they visited from America. And we showed them the footprint sites and we brought Anthony out as well. And there’s Anthony bigger, much bigger pointing to a footprint of one of those big long neck dinosaurs at done told them. And that gives you a sense of scale of standing next to it. Going out looking at these footprints, showing them to our little boy, it inspired my wife and I were really my wife to do something about it. And there we are at the track site now and was a schoolteacher in Edinburgh for a very long time. And, you know, after having Anthony and after going through, you know, hybrid teaching and everything during COVID decided to do some new things afterwards. And so she’s doing a lot of writing these days and for for a decade, and would read her primary school students dinosaur books, and just being married to me, she knew how inaccurate a lot of those books were. And so that inspired her to write her own book. And so we published this last year and wrote the book. And I basically did the fact checking to make sure that the story was solid, that it was based on the real fossils that we have. And it’s a story. It’s a picture book for kids about the dinosaurs that lived here. All of the characters, real ones that we know, from real fossils. And of course, we’ve dedicated it to Anthony. And if you’re interested in the book, we can’t sell them here, you know, technically is we’re still a charity. But if you would like a copy, just let me know there’s ways I can tell you how to get one of course you can find it on Amazon and through the publisher. But we’re very proud because it’s a Scottish publisher we work with Shala Grey is the is the publisher. And she’s also the artist who did the really cool paintings for the book. And it’s the first book on, you know, Scottish Dinosaurs For Kids. So really, you know, having a son inspired us to do this. And we hope to of course, continue to keep finding more dinosaurs and more fossils to help flesh out the story of what our new home our son’s home was, like 170 million years ago. And just to say, I talk a lot about Skye in the books I write for adults, too. So I’ve written one on Dinosaurs Dugie Ross is a big character in that book, I talk a lot about Dugie and about Tom challans, who I found the footprint site with. There’s also fossils of mammals from sky, early mammals, which I haven’t talked about, but I talk about them. In my follow up book on mammals. I’m always trying to spread the gospel of Skye dinosaurs. And whatever I do, whether it’s writing books for kids or adults, whether it’s being here with all of you tonight, and all of you online, so I will end there. I’ll thank you all again for your attention. I really appreciate you coming out. We’re going to do some q&a now. So anything any of you guys want to know about any of these dinosaurs or really any dinosaurs or Jurassic world if you want to know about what is like working on a movie, whatever it is, I’m here to answer your dinosaur question. So thank you all very much


roving microphones in the room, I guess, from Genesis questions. Anyone in the room?


Got a question. So, thank you, first of all, thank you. Brilliant. Are there any fossils lurking in unpublished PhD projects at the moment as their stuff about to come out?

Professor Steve Brusatte  1:00:49

Oh, oh, well, yeah, there yet. So Natalia is still working on her PhD, we actually just published a short paper in the Scottish Journal of geology, which I’m sure you all subscribe to. Last week, I’m a second pterodactyl that Tom challans found now it’s not as complete as part of a lake and part of a tail. And it’s also from brothers point. But what’s cool about that is that it’s even bigger than the fossil Amelia found of Yark. So that thing had like an eight foot wingspan. This one is the corresponding bones are even bigger. We can’t tell quite how big it was. Because we don’t have a lot of bones. We can’t tell if it’s a different species. We don’t have enough bones. But it’s tantalising it tells us there were other big pterodactyls out there. And we have other discoveries. From Skye other footprint sites, I have students that have found their own footprint sites. I have a master’s student now, who has actually been collecting fossils on Skye since he was a teenager, him and his parents have come up there from England, they got to know Dugie really well. And he’s found his own new track sites he’s doing a Masters on and we have some other fossils. We’ve also looked for fossils on Eigg and on Muck, and we found a dinosaur bone on a Eigg. And some tourists have actually found dinosaur footprints on Eigg we looked and look for dinosaur footprints. But we didn’t find any but tourists did find one. So there are dinosaurs on Eigg. And there’s some cool stuff on Muck. I won’t say too much to say there are dinosaurs on Muck, and Paige, who I mentioned earlier, is leading that study. So hopefully, that will come out fairly soon. So yes, there’s more. But for the little ones in the audience, there’s much more to be found, we’re only scratching the surface, I promise you.


So given the the footprints that you saw, and you were able to map them out in terms of the way they were walking and pressing. And when you took that aerial photograph that you showed, you could see them, there’s lots of places that are not accessible for you to just walk onto that sort of beach and area to see, are you using the drone to be able to kind of get see these images and get an idea of where to go to next,

Professor Steve Brusatte  1:03:01

we’re not doing so much of that we might in the future. We want to be a bit, you know, kind of careful and respectful and not just willy nilly fly drones everywhere, and, you know, see what we can see. It would be hard, I think, to get like live views from drones, we probably have to collect a lot of images, and then, you know, sort through them later, it would surely reveal some new track sites. But you know, there are rules about how you can fly drones here and the permits you need and stuff and we don’t want to really abuse that and just fly a lot of drones. The other thing I’d say is it might be hard for a drone to spot a footprint. At least right now maybe as the cameras get better. And as AI and machine learning and everything get better. But most of these things are are in the title area, you’re only accessible at low tide, you can’t see them otherwise, a lot of times they’re full of water or they’re covered in seaweed or their sand. So unless you’re there walking and looking at them, scrutinising them, you might mistake random holes, you know, for a footprint if you’re just have an aerial view. But I do think though that down the line, that will be the next step. So I’m sure we will get around to it in a respectful way.


Do you Do you know anything more about the new stegosaur?

Professor Steve Brusatte  1:04:33

Oh, yeah. So the one that we found? Yeah. Yeah, good question. So do you like Stegosaurus? They’re so cool, aren’t they with those big plates on their backs, like, for a long time and palaeontologist didn’t really know why they have these big plates on their backs. And we think they probably were used for like display, you know, to like, attract mates and scare off rivals. You know, like a lot of animals like peacocks have their big feathers to do that. But maybe the plates also were like solar panels that helped heat up their bodies. So we’re learning more about the stegosaurs. We describe that footprint site page, lead that that description, which came out in March of 2020, the day before the first lockdown was announced, so it was too bad for page. And actually a story some of you might appreciate or laugh at or whatever is that, you know, pate, Paige and I are both from America. And we published this paper, the University of Edinburgh put out a press release. So journalists started to ask questions. And then a lot of those journalists start stopped asking questions because this lockdown was impending. But we were asked in America to do an interview together on a radio show called Science Fridays on National Public Radio, that’s a radio that goes out across all of America. And we were both very excited. It was very touching, like, you know, I’m the professor and pages, my students, and we’re both Americans were going to do this live interview together. Like, how cool is that? For her. And for me, like, my parents were listening. Her parents were listening, you know, listening to us live from Scotland. And so we do the interview, actually, we do the whole interview. And then after it’s done, you know, I hang up, and I call my parents. And I said, How was it? And they said, You’re gonna hate this. But it wasn’t on, because Donald Trump made an emergency speech about COVID. So we were preempted, not only for Trump, but for some of his nonsense about whatever drinking bleach or whatever it was that day. So anyway, so maybe if you haven’t heard of that discovery, it’s because it just didn’t get a lot of fanfare because of the lockdown. But we know that there are more stegosaurs out there and this bone that we found on the aisle of a Eigg we identified as probably being a leg bone of a stegosaur. So I think the more people look on Sky and a Eigg, if you find bones, there’s a good chance they might be stegosaur bone. So remember that if you’re out walking the coast looking for fossils.

Professor Martin Hendry FRSE  1:07:20

We read that out, then the folks on label here


There was one submitted in advance from Rachel Lee them and she wants to know, are there any sites in Scotland, particularly that you would recommend for intrepid young amateur fossil hunters to visit? Yes, that’s

Professor Steve Brusatte  1:07:37

a great question. Scotland, at least coming from America, okay. Scotland, to me is it’s kind of a small country. But it’s a small country with that just really punches above its weight when it comes to fossils. And there are incredible fossils from across Scotland. I’m really just talking to you about the Jurassic age fossils. But there are fossils of some of the very first animals the burrows that they made some of the first animals that ever lived. There are fossils found in Scotland, a place called Riney up and up near Aberdeen, that are the oldest plants in the fossil record. The first ecosystem on land is plants, there’s insects over 400 million years old. Some of the oldest fossils of what we call tetrapods are found in Scotland tetrapods are any animals with arms and legs and fingers and toes. So we’re a tetrapod and frogs and dinosaurs and birds and so on. tetrapods evolved from fish that basically crawl out of the water and turn their flippers and arms and legs. And some of the very oldest of those fossils are found in Edinburgh, around Edinburgh in the borders around the river Tweed. Then there’s all kinds of of invertebrate fossils, Ammonites and scallops and all kinds of corals and all kinds of things. So it really depends on where you live in Scotland. If you live here on Skye. Look for dinosaurs go up along the coast, north, the Portree, there’s a lot to be found. And really, a lot of the best discoveries, as you saw with our team are made by students. But around the world. It’s usually not palaeontologists that are finding the best dinosaurs. It’s not the professor going out or the people with PhDs, we do find stuff. But a lot of the best finds are made by farmers by construction workers, by hikers, even by kids. There was a Pterodactyl a few years ago found on the Isle of Wight and England by like a five year old girl just out walking with their parents. And she noticed something in the rock and said that looks interesting. That’s different. That’s weird. What is it mommy and daddy and it turned out to be a Pterodactyl or so I kid you not. I’m not just saying oh, the little ones, you know, be on the lookout. No, really, like Be on the lookout like you might find something. And if you find something you think might be a dinosaur, whether it’s a bone or a footprint. Get in touch. Please get in touch. I’m easy to find my email. But there’s other places on Skyw around Broadford and so on, where there’s Ammonites, where there’s fossils, seashells also from the Jurassic period. So lots of places to go here. If you’re around Edinburgh and Glasgow, there’s a lot of local places. There’s geological societies in both cities, which are basically groups of interested professionals and amateurs that get together and they meet, and they have lectures, and they do field trips. And they have field guides that are online. And I’ll just say because I could talk forever about Scottish fossils, but I take my students are undergrads, we take them out during class time to look for fossils. That’s one of the great things about being in Edinburgh. We’re surrounded by fossils. So we do a bunch of field trips. In class time we go down to the borders, a place called Dobbs Lynn, where there’s great fossils, we go into the Pentland Hills right south of Edinburgh, where there’s amazing fossils of trilobites and other animals. We go along the coast and east lovi. And there’s a place called Barnes Nasus out by the lighthouse. And by the cement works amazing fossils. There’s a field guide online that tells you exactly where to go. And we go across the bridge into Fife. And we find fossils around King horn, which is really just over the bridge from Edinburgh. There’s fossil plants there too, from the trees that lived long before the dinosaurs that died and were buried and turned into the coal that was mined in Scotland for so long. I will stop there because I can keep going but that’s just to say there is a lot out there.




this is familiar. It’s familiar.

Professor Steve Brusatte  1:12:05

Yeah, what what’s what’s your name?


This is this is Oren.


Oren. It’s nice to meet you. How old are you? Five. All right. Yeah. So our little boy, he just turned three and a half. So you remind me of him.


He’s he’s asking about the fossils at Broadford at Waterloo. Yes. And I think what you want to know is, is the more than the Ammonites and Bellamites. Are there any other fossils there any, any dinosaurs? Question?


Oh, you’re so young to know about these fossils? I’ll tell you that. When I became interested in fossils, I was like 14 or 15 years old, I was in high school. So you’re like 10 years advanced beyond me knowing about fossils and asking questions like that. Yes, there’s more down there there are you can find some bones of things like the Ichthyosaurs. And we have found a few Tom challans found a nice tooth when we were kind of out in that area before. Some others have found vertebrae, the vertebrae the backbones of these Ichthyosaurs. They do look like you know coins or mints, or ashtrays or dinner plate, however you want to do it like the one from near Beric Bay. So look out for those a lot of times those bones are going to be darker in colour, they’re going to be brown or black, they’re going to be a bit shiny. And maybe if you see them, if they’re broken a little bit, they might have a honeycomb texture. And that tells you that’s not just random rock that is bone. So when you find an Ichthyosaur are out there, please call me up. And you can either do your PhD on it if you want to do one, or if you don’t want to wait that long. We’ll name it after you a Gaelic name and then you

Professor Martin Hendry FRSE  1:13:50

I think that’s a great question for us to end on. So can we just really end on giving Steve a huge thank you.