The Attic (a name which commemorates our first physical location) is, first and foremost, a site for the research students of the School of Museum Studies at the University of Leicester: a virtual community which aims to include all students, be they campus-based and full-time, or distance-learning and overseas. But we welcome contributions from students of museum studies - and allied subject areas - from outside the School and from around the world. Here you will find a lot of serious stuff, like exhibition and research seminar reviews, conference alerts and calls for papers, but there's also some 'fluff'; the things that inspire, distract and keep us going. After all, while we may be dead serious academic types, we're human too.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Go Dino!

We are very proud to announce that our very own Dave Unwin has made the news today, with the announcement of his find, in collaboration with colleagues in China, of a new pterosaur (a flying dinosaur, for any non-paleontologists out there). And they didn't just dig up one of the fellas, but 20!

What's really exciting, is that this little chap, about the size of a crow, provides evidence of an aspect of evolution called modular evolution. *Warning... Science bit* In this case, we had fossils of earlier pterosaurs, with long tails, and later ones with short tails. You might expect that the intermediate pterosaur would have a medium tail, but in actual fact it still has the tail of its ancestors, while the body and head have evolved into the form we see in the later pterosaurs. So, basically, different bits of the pterosaurs are evolving at different rates. For anyone with a mad image of weirdly morphing flying dinos, don't forget that this takes a very, very, very long time!

Anyway, in celebration of the evidence provided for yet another aspect of the much maligned theory of evolution, the pterosaur has been given the name Darwinopterus. In Darwin year, this is only right and proper. Go Charles! and Go Dave!

You can read more about the story in the BBC here and the Leicester Mercury here


Jenny said...

Very cool! Good for Dave! :) I always liked pterosaurs. When I read Dinotopia I wanted to be a Skybax Rider...*geek*

Amy said...

I was quite surprised when, some time past midnight, Dave appeared on my television screen being interviewed in front of New Walk Museum's articulated dinosaur.

I confess I cheered, quite loudly.

I suspect my slumbering flatmate was less than enamoured with me. :S