Live from the Lyme Regis Fossil Festival

I am in Lyme Regis, where mobile phone coverage is patchy, but fossils are everywhere.  This weekend is the 8th annual Fossil Festival, and I'm part of the Palaeontological Association team asking 'What's In a Name?'

Deltoideum delta (Smith, 1817)

In the case of the late Jurassic Dorset bivalve above, it's a story of geological fathers and Greek letters.  In 1817, pioneering stratigrapher William Smith named the fossil Ostrea delta, as an extinct oyster with the shape of the Greek letter Δ.

Many years later, however, palaeontologists realised that this was not a true species of Ostrea, or edible oyster, but a Mesozoic cousin, belonging to a different genus.  This was named Deltoideum - of a delta-shape - and suddenly the fossil changed from being the delta-shaped oyster to the delta-shaped delta.

Confused?  I imagine so, but such is the arcane nature of taxonomy.  It is important, however, and if you want to find out a bit more about it (along with seeing Hilda's horn, the fish lizard, and a heart star) then come along to our stall in the big white marquee.  You might even win some fossiliferous prizes!