Jan 2021 Talk: New Ordovician fossil discovery in Wales

Event Details

(Registration closed!) Castle Bank: A new Ordovician Burgess Shale-type fauna in Wales, by Dr Joe Botting

” … most important fossil discovery since Fezouata Biota [1990s] … potential to revolutionise our view of Ordovician evolution & ecosystems,” Dr Joe Botting.


The Burgess Shale-type faunas of the Cambrian provide one of the best windows into ancient ecosystems, preserving a remarkable range of soft-bodied organisms in extraordinary detail. Most remarkably, they represent the extremely diverse, normal marine assemblages of the open shelf sea floor, and have therefore revealed the Cambrian Explosion (arguably the most important interval in animal evolution) in previously unimaginable detail. There are two known Early Ordovician faunas of this type (in Wales and Morocco), but after that the window seems to have closed. Later Ordovician exceptionally preserved fossil assemblages are more constrained and limited in scope often representing odd environments or specialist ecosystems.

During the lockdown of 2020, a new Burgess Shale-type fauna was discovered in Middle Ordovician rocks of the Builth Inlier, central Wales. The fauna is in the preliminary stages of excavation and interpretation, but has already yielded a remarkable range of lightly mineralised and soft-bodied taxa, including sponges, arthropods, several phyla of worms, molluscs and many other groups. The fauna is the most important Ordovician fossil discovery since the Fezouata Biota, and has the potential to revolutionise our view of Ordovician evolution and ecosystems.

Joe & Lucy with S8 APO microscope & camera

WGCG contributed to an appeal to crowdfund a high-quality Leica S8 APO photomicroscope to aid study of these fauna. See: WGCG 2020 Autumn Newsletter – Pages 29 & 30 – Click image to enlarge.

Dr Joe Botting

Dr Joe Botting




Fitting camera to microscope

Fitting camera to microscope

Dr. Joseph P. Botting
is a palaeontologist specialising in the evolution of sponges, echinoderms, and Ordovician ecosystems. He is currently a Guest Scientist at the Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology, and an Honorary Research Fellow at the National Museum Wales, but lives primarily in central Wales. Brought up in Hereford, he holds degrees from the University of Cambridge (MA in Natural Sciences) and the University of Birmingham (PhD), and has worked at the University of Cambridge, the Natural History Museum (London), Leeds Museum, and the Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology. He has around 75 published papers (including in major journals such as Nature, Current Biology, Science Advances and Geology) and book chapters, has given multiple keynote lectures at international conferences, and is at least partly responsible for the discovery of several of the known Ordovician Konservat-Lagerstätten.

More about WGCG
WGCG programmes include talks, currently virtual, field walks and residential field visits. WGCG creates and publishes trail guides and interpretation panels. We survey Local Geological Sites (LGS) formerly RiGS and do works to conserve some of them. We can provide bursaries via the Holloway Award. We invite you to take a look at the geology, geodiversity, iceage history revealed in the Brandon Wall. We hope you will find great interest in The Geology of Warwickshire provided by the Warwickshire Geological Conservation Group (WGCG) including Meriden Shafts, Stratford Trail Guide, Solihull, Rugby, Guides to Building Stones in many towns, Corley Rocks and Burton Dassett Hills. Come and see the Warwickshire’s Jurassic rocks and fossils including ammonites and belemnites.

Zoom Talk

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