Lecture: Prehistoric behaviour; from dinosaurs to sea scorpions

Speaker: Thomas Land, University of Southampton

Entry Fee

Members: Free

Visitors: £5.00

Date and Time

19:30 -


Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution, 16-18 Queen Square, Bath BA1 2HN

Lecture Description

Under normal circumstances (i.e. being alive), it is normally a challenge to try and figure out how an animal thinks. This can be done through careful, and silent observation and meticulous investigation of the neuroanatomy. The whole process is made significantly more difficult when the animal in question cannot be observed in the wild, has no available brain to investigate and has also been dead for 125 million years.

Through CT scanning, neurological reconstruction and detailed comparison to living organisms, it is possible to theorise and predict behaviours as well as general life history of long extinct animals. I will talk about how my research took me to rebuilding the brain of a Spinosaurid dinosaur. I will investigate how we can apply these techniques to a much larger range of animals, spanning even further back in time, to attempt to understand a little about how ancient ecosystems worked. It is so easy to look at fossils in rocks and forget there was a life behind it, rather than just inanimate rock. Here I will hopefully bring to life the fossils and reveal the secrets that they are hiding.

About Tom Land: I am a zoologist, evolutionary biologist and accidental palaeontologist. My main interest is investigating why animals do the things they do, looking across time at the behaviour of extant animals and fossils alike. Previously I have worked on rebuilding dinosaur brains, attempting to understand what the life history of a Spinosaurid specimen was like. I have additionally worked on the Galapagos Archipelago with Finches and Marine Iguanas, as well as now focussing my attention onto the investigation of brain evolution across primates (both extinct and living).

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