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Aspiration Friday: Fossils

Pupils with Nicola SkipperPupils with Nicola Skipper

20th March 2019

Last Friday, Nicola Skipper from the Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences, Cambridge, came into CamVC to talk to us about fossils.

Students from years 7-10 learnt about the difference between archaeology and geology, as Nicola explained to us the concept of ‘deep time’.  We all tried to get our heads around exactly how far away was 1,000,000 years ago!  Nicola explained that understanding this is crucial to grasping what a fossil is – without this, it’s impossible to comprehend how the creatures that fossils record can have existed and evolved into the animals we see around us today.

Nicola then showed us some real fossils, including the tooth of a iguanodon.  We were shocked to discover that the serrated edge is still sharp!  She then showed us the cast of the brain of a tyrannosaurus rex – which was smaller than its tooth!  Whilst we struggled to believe that such a fearsome creature had such a tiny brain, Nicola explained how knowledge of anatomy allowed palaeontologists to work out that since a T-Rex’s brain is similar in shape to that of a crocodile, it must have had an exceptionally good sense of smell and co-ordination, just like the modern reptile.

We ended the talk by learning about other fantastic opportunities to look at fossils in greater detail during the Cambridge Science Festival – more information here (  I’m sure I won’t be the only person heading down to the Sedgwick Museum to explore the collection myself!

Miss L Clash

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