Fossils in the Sun

As part of my role as newsletter reporter for the Palaeontological Association, I like to keep tabs on fossil coverage in The Sun, so here are three recent entries:

Oct 6th 2010 - Oldest dinosaur relative revealed

Other than inevitably referring to the scientists as 'boffins', there's not much wrong with this article. The interpretation of the footprints is somewhat dubious - they could quite easily have been produced by a four-legged reptile that wasn't a dinosaur - but that's for palaeontologists and ichnologists (trace fossil experts) to figure out.


Sept 24th 2010 - Dino skull is 190 million years old

This is a cool story about a chap in Dorset who did some amazing work collecting and rebuilding an early Jurassic ichthyosaur ("fish lizard") skull.  The only problem with the article is that it calls ichthyosaurs dinosaurs.  Ichthyosaurs weren't dinosaurs, they were... ichthyosaurs, a separate reptile group.  The clue is in the fact they have a different name.

From the comments on this and the previous article, it seems that Sun reader 'Samboi' is not impressed by fossils.


Sept 16th 2010 -  Fossil of biggest bird to fly found

Not much to question on this piece either, about a 2 million year old fossil bird found in Chile.  Indeed, I rather like the line stating that the bird lived 'only two million years ago', suggesting that the Sun is getting to grips with the vastness of geological time.  Sadly its readers may not be: the comments of Matt-za are particularly enlightening, as he denounces the geological column as 'the figment of a vivid imagination, even hardened evolutionists don't believe in it anymore.'

Our scientific expert then tells us that "a fossil found in granite could either be paleozoid or cambrian".  Ignoring the fact that paleozoid isn't even a word, a fossil found in granite would be very interesting, as granite is the slowly crystallized product of molten continental crust, formed many kilometres below the Earth's surface, at temperatures of around 800 degrees Celsius.  He must have read my undergraduate thesis (unpublished*) on titanium trilobites that lived in magma chambers.

Thankfully, bigjim79 counteracts Mr -za's nonsense, noting that 'all sane and reasonable people believe in evolution', which I find rather reassuring, given the newspaper.

Now, I wonder how metamorphic petrology is covered in the Daily Star...


*sorry, I meant to say unpublishable.