Date and Time
Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution, 16-18 Queen Square, Bath BA1 2HN
The rocks around Bath and the Cotswolds are among the oldest scientifically studied deposits in the world. The amazingly preserved fossils were noted by William Smith near Bradford-on-Avon in 1816; however these are rare and the true community structure is still unknown. Thus fragmentary remains must also be considered when reconstructing ancient ecosystems. Past works have found fragments problematic; similar to a jigsaw puzzle with most of the pieces missing and no idea what the animal looked like! Some palaeontologists even resorted to gluing organisms back together. Despite such difficulties these creatures can and have been identified. Early indications show that echinoderms, especially crinoids live in distinct ecosystems characterised by only two or three genera. Thus, by studying echinoderms such as echinoids, crinoids and ophiuroids (brittle stars), it has been possible to interpret what the Jurassic sea bed actually looked like. The data found will ultimately allow environments as diverse as the Maastrichtian of the Netherlands and Jurassic of the Western United States to be reconstructed.
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