Saturday 25 November 2017

Friday 24 November 2017

PrehiScotInktoberfest Day 24: Westlothiana lizziae

PrehiScotInktoberfest 24 is a very special one for me. Not long ago, my grandfather celebrated his 84th birthday. One of my favourite memories, of which there are many, of him was when he took me & the rest of the family to see the Dinosaurs From China exhibition. While there were plenty of dinosaurs present - Mamenchisaurus, Yangchuanosaurus, Tsintaosaurus (they were nothing if not proudly local of their dinosaurs in China) - there was one fossil that I'll never forget.

Thursday 23 November 2017

Wednesday 22 November 2017

PrehiScotInktoberfest Day 22: Cowiedesmus eroticopodus

PrehiScotInktoberfest 22 takes us to Silurian Stonehaven, some 423 million years ago, to the beginning of life on land.

Tuesday 21 November 2017

PrehiScotInktoberfest Day 21: Cephalaspis

PrehiScotInktoberfest 21 returns to the sea (again, this happens a lot when most of your country's fossils are marine lifeforms).

Monday 20 November 2017

PrehiScotInktoberfest Day 20: Ribbo

Today's beastie is as-yet officially unnamed, but affectionately known as "Ribbo." Ribbo is another tetrapod from the fabled Romer's Gap, that mysterious epoch of prehistory that has an anomalous dearth of tetrapod fossils. 

It's difficult to convey how weird that is. 

Sunday 19 November 2017

PrehiScotInktoberfest Day 19: Ainiktozoon loganens

PrehiScotInktoberfest hops back to Silurian Scotland, where unspeakable, indescribable THINGS once dwelt in the ancient waters of what is now Lesmagahow...

Saturday 18 November 2017

The Lord of the Rings Series: Wild Extrapolations

Three Rings for the Elfin-kings unner the sky,
Seiven for the Droich-lairds in thair haws of stane,
Nine for Mortal Men duimit tae dee,
Ane for the Daurk Laird oan his daurk throne
In the Laund of Mordor whaur the Shadaes lig.
Ane Ring tae rowl thaim aw, Ane Ring tae find thaim,
Ane Ring tae bring thaim aw an' in the mirkness bind thaim
In the Laund of Mordor whaur the Shadaes lie. 
 - The Laird of the Rings (in Scots) - I can dream, eh?

I think I got most of my emotional reaction to any new Tolkien adaptation news out of my system a while ago, especially given how franchises operate nowadays. Rather than being excited or dismayed, I feel a strange sense of confidence - that "ah, I've been here before" sensation. It could be good. Or, it might not. We will see.

What do we know about the series? We know next to nothing.

PrehiScotInktoberfest Day 18: Arthropleura


We've all heard of Nessie; and the weird creatures of Scots folklore - Kelpies, Selkies, Bashees, Bogles, Redcaps, the Blue Men of the Minch. Scotland has long played host to monsters - and great long trackways in the stone shores from Crail in Fife to the Isle of Arran are all that remains of one of Scotland's first giants.

Friday 17 November 2017

PrehiScotInktoberfest Day 17: Eileanchelys waldmani & Friends

Time for PrehiScotInktoberfest 17! Still in the sea, but now on to the familiar Triassic period. While much of the fossilised marine life on Skye is coastal, there is evidence of freshwater-dwellers too: this suggests Scotland, like much of Europe, was archepelagic, thousands of islands and lagoons bordering the ancient Tethys Ocean.

Thursday 16 November 2017

PrehiScotInktoberfest Day 16: Akmonistion zangerli

PrehiScotInktoberfest 16 stays in the sea, but jumps forward a bit in time to the early Carboniferous period, 360 - 298 million years ago. We are in what is now Bearsden - which, like much of Scotland in that period, was underwater. Thus far, only one creature has been discovered from Bearsden, and what a beastie it is!

Wednesday 15 November 2017

PrehiScotInktoberfest Day 15: Jawless Wonders of the Silurian

PrehiScotInktoberfest 15 returns to the sea, back to the late Silurian period, in what is now Lesmahagow. Back then, North Lanarkshire was submerged under the waves, where beasties dreadful & weird darted through the mirk. Our underwater trio are small jawless fish from that period..

Tuesday 14 November 2017

PrehiScotInktoberfest Day 14: Silvanerpeton miripedes & Pulmonoscorpius kirktonensis

PrehiScotInktoberfest 14 returns to the undergrowth, but this time back to the primeval Devonian, and the beasties are quite a bit nastier than the furry critters of the Jurassic!

Monday 13 November 2017

PrehiScotInktoberfest Day 13: Hoots Mon Erra Moose Loose Aboot This Hoose

PrehiScotInktoberfest 13 returns to the Jurassic, but rather than feature immense dinosaurs or grand sea creatures, we delve into the undergrowth - in this case, the forests of what is now the Isle of Skye.

Sunday 12 November 2017

PrehiScotInktoberfest Day 12: Pterichthyodes milleri

The next three days may see a dearth of PrehiScotInktoberfest, for I'll be away deep in the Mountains of Argyll on a quest of self-discovery. (Yes, really. That's what I'm doing this weekend. Every Scottish person does it.)

But before I embark on this journey, here's PrehiScotInktoberfest 12!

Saturday 11 November 2017

PrehiScotInktoberfest Day 11: The Marvelous Creatures of the Rhynie Chert


Beware, there's a beastie in PrehiScotInktoberfest 11! Well, technically not a spider... Let me explain.

Back at the turn of the 20th Century, while mapping near the wee village of Rhynie, incredibly rich and detailed fossil remains from the Devonian period were uncovered: such finds are called Lagerstätte. This Lagerstätte was called the Rhynie Chert for the village, and it's an extraordinary chunk of rock.

Normally, small animals are rarely fossilised on account of their size: microscopic fossils even more so. Yet the Rhynie Chert ensconced a plethora of absolutely tiny creatures, and for decades, was the only such example of such a find in the world.

So what were these beasties?

The Ballad of Asgrimm Thunderbeard

You had me at "rules for dinosaur racing."
I had my first experience of 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons on Thursday whilst visiting my wee cousin in Dundee. A bit anxious since I hadn't played a game since 3rd edition, but I figured it couldn't be that different, and since it utilised the new stuff from Tomb of Annihilation, how could I not?

Friday 10 November 2017

PrehiScotInktoberfest Day 10: Eucritta melanolimnetes

Scotland is one of the most important palaeontological sites in the world for a particular group of animals - the Stem Tetrapods. Just about every land animal with four limbs, from amphibians to reptiles to birds to mammals, derives from this ancient order of beasties, and Scotland is one of the best places to find them in the world.

Thursday 9 November 2017

PrehiScotInktoberfest Day 9: The Dinosaurs of Skye

Jurassic Skye catalogues a rather mysterious period of earth's history - the Middle Jurassic. While the Early & Late Jurassic are well-represented in the fossil records in Britain, Germany, and the Americas, the Middle Jurassic is a bit more mysterious. Even though it isn't the most prolific of dinosaur-bearing stratographic areas, Skye is nonetheless one of the most important for this little-understood period of our world.

Tuesday 7 November 2017

PrehiScotInktoberfest Day 7: Paraproetus girvanensis & Threavia gulosa

When I first started out, I was worried I wouldn't find enough Scottish prehistoric creatures to fill out 31 days: now, I'm finding the opposite, where I'm having to pick and choose which beastie gets a picture! 

Monday 6 November 2017

PrehiScotInktoberfest Day 6: Dearcmhara shawcrossi

A few years ago, you probably came across one of *those* headlines. You know the ones: palaeontology news reported by someone who doesn't know the first thing about palaeontology, & thinks people are too thick to understand more than the absolute basics of prehistoric beasts. Thus, today's beastie was announced to the world as "NESSIE'S SCARIER/CUTER/COOLER RELATIVE/ANCESTOR/PREDATOR/." Which, given how distantly related Ichthyosaurs are to Plesiosaurs, is a bit like calling a snake a relative of a pigeon. 

But I digress.

Saturday 4 November 2017

Thursday 2 November 2017

PrehiscotInktoberfest Day 2: Leptopleuron lacertinum

PrehiscotInktoberfest continues with another cool wee beastie from Elgin's fossil beds - and one with an interesting history of discovery.

Wednesday 1 November 2017

PrehiScotInktoberfest Day 1: Saltopus elginensis

Our first Prehiscotinktobersketch is Saltopus elginensis, a wee beastie once thought to be a dinosaur, but currently considered a "dinosauriform" (i.e. give it a few million years).
You might have heard of Saltopus if you’re my age or older: for the longest time, it was famous as the first dinosaur to be discovered in Scotland. In 1910, William Taylor found a tiny piece of jaw in the Lossiemouth West & East Quarry: the Württembergian palaeontologist Friedrich von Huene named it Saltopus elginensis (“Elgin’s jumping foot”).

Finally, we Scots had a dinosaur to call our own, to stand beside the many dinosaurs discovered, described and adopted by England! Scotland’s previous claim to fame beforehand was ammonites, trilobites, graptolites, stromatolites, fish, shrimps, sharks, sea scorpions, dicynodonts, “Devil’s toenails,”  missing links, googly-eyed eels, elks, and trees – but no dinosaurs to call their own. Every country should have at least one dinosaur. Even the Cetiosaurus bones found on Skye are just a northern branch of a species discovered in England. Alas, it was not to be: Saltopus was demoted to dinosauriform – a very dinosaur-like dinosauriform, but not a dinosaur itself.

Isn’t that just bloody typical? Scotland finds a dinosaur, and it gets reclassified. Still, there’s something poetic in Scotland’s “dinosaur” being a creature that’s nearly there, but not yet.