• Professional fossil preparators at the British Museum (Natural History), 1843-1990*

      Graham, M; Reichenbach, H (Edinburgh University Press, 2019-10-01)
      Since the inception of the British Museum (Natural History) in 1881 (now the Natural History Museum, London), the collection, development and mounting of fossils for scientific study and public exhibition have been undertaken by fossil preparators. Originally known as masons, because of their rock-working skills, their roles expanded in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when, at the forefront of the developing science of palaeontology, the Museum was actively obtaining fossil material from the UK and abroad to build the collections. As greater numbers of more impressive specimens were put on public display, these preparators developed new and better methods to recover and transport fossils from the field, and technical improvements, in the form of powered tools, enabled more detailed mechanical preparation to be undertaken. A recurring theme in the history of palaeontological preparation has been that sons often followed in their fathers’ footsteps in earth sciences. William and Thomas Davies, Caleb and Frank Barlow, and Louis and Robert Parsons were all father-and-son geologists and preparators.
    • Deep-sea anthropogenic macrodebris harbours rich and diverse communities of bacteria and archaea

      Woodall, LC; Jungblut, AD; Hopkins, K; Hall, A; Robinson, LF; Gwinnett, C; Paterson, GLJ (PLOS, 2018-11-28)
      The deep sea is the largest biome on earth, and microbes dominate in biomass and abundance. Anthropogenic litter is now almost ubiquitous in this biome, and its deposition creates new habitats and environments, including for microbial assemblages. With the ever increasing accumulation of this debris, it is timely to identify and describe the bacterial and archaeal communities that are able to form biofilms on macrodebris in the deep sea. Using 16S rRNA gene high throughput sequencing, we show for the first time the composition of bacteria and archaea on macrodebris collected from the deep sea. Our data suggest differences in the microbial assemblage composition across litter of different materials including metal, rubber, glass, fabric and plastic. These results imply that anthropogenic macrodebris provide diverse habitats for bacterial and archaeal biofilms and each may harbour distinct microbial communities.
    • Alkali-rich replacement zones in evolved NYF pegmatites: metasomatic fluids or immiscible melts?

      Muller, A; Spratt, J; Thomas, R; Williamson, BJ; Seltmann, R (International Mineralogical Association, 2018-08-13)
      IMA2018 Abstract submission Pegmatite mineralogy, geochemistry, classification and origins IMA2018-1337 Alkali-rich replacement zones in evolved NYF pegmatites: metasomatic fluids or immiscible melts? Axel Muller* 1, John Spratt2, Rainer Thomas3, Ben J. Williamson4, Reimar Seltmann2 1Natural History Museum, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway, 2Department of Earth Sciences, Natural History Museum, London, United Kingdom, 3Chemistry and Physics of Earth Materials, German Research Centre for Geoscience GFZ, Potsdam, Germany, 4Camborne School of Mines, University of Exeter, Penryn, United Kingdom What is your preferred presentation method?: Oral or poster presentation : Replacement zones (RZ), which are a common feature of evolved granitic pegmatites, are irregular, commonly alkali-rich zones superimposing, cross-cutting and replacing the primary zonation in almost all consolidated pegmatite bodies. RZ are widely considered to result from late-stage metasomatism even though little is known about the melts and/or fluids involved in their formation. However, the observed textures and mineral paragenesis of RZ cannot be explained by metasomatism in a strict sense. In this study, the nature of the late stage silicate melt forming “cleavelandite” RZ is assessed from textural, mineralogical, chemical and melt inclusion studies of evolved, Proterozoic Niobium-Yttrium-Fluorine (NYF) rare metal pegmatites from Evje–Iveland, southern Norway. These were studied as they are mineralogically simple, compared with RZ in evolved Lithium-Caesium-Tantalum (LCT) pegmatites. Silicate melt inclusions in RZ-forming topaz and “cleavelandite” document high H2O contents of up to18 wt.% of the F-rich silicate melt from which the RZ crystallized. In addition, from mineral compositions (“cleavelandite”, “amazonite”, white mica, garnet, columbite group minerals, topaz, fluorite, and beryl), they must have also been strongly alkaline (Na-dominated) with enrichments in F (at least 4 wt.%), Cs, Rb, Ta, Nb, Mn, Ge, Bi, As, and in some cases also Li compared with host pegmatites. These elements are concentrated in a few RZ-forming minerals resulting in very distinctive mineral-trace element signatures. “Amazonite” is strongly enriched in Cs and Rb and often white mica and beryl in Li and Cs. To acquire these mineral compositions, the overall Li-Cs-Ta-poor Evje-Iveland original pegmatite melt must have undergone extreme internal chemical differentiation resulting in melt/melt immiscibility aiding rheology contrasts and resulting in RZ formation. The resulting RZ-forming H2O-F-rich silicate melt would have shown large differences in viscosity and density, and therefore physical flow/transport properties, to the host pegmatite melt resulting in discordant contacts. The mineralogy and melt inclusion data from the Evje-Iveland pegmatites document a gradient of crystallization temperatures within the investigated pegmatite bodies with highest temperatures at the pegmatite margin (during initial emplacement, ~680°C) and lowest temperatures within the RZ (<500°C). Considering the temperature and pressure conditions of the host rocks gneisses and amphibolites (~650°C, up to 5 kbar) at the time of pegmatite emplacement and the crystallization conditions of the RZ, the Evje- Iveland pegmatites and RZ likely formed over a period of 2.2 million years, assuming an exhumation rate of 1.5 mm per million years and a geothermal gradient of 45°C km-1. Such a long crystallization time contradicts the classical view that pegmatites represent strongly undercooled melts which crystallize relatively fast.
    • The air-abrasive technique: A re-evaluation of its use in fossil preparation

      Graham, M; Allington-Jones, L (Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, 2018-08)
      This paper outlines the history of air-abrasion (also known as airbrasion) as a paleontological preparation technique and evaluates various powders and their properties. It explores the rationale behind the selection of abrasive powders and presents, for the first time, trench-scatter experiments through Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) photography and three-dimensional (3-D) profiling. This article also offers general practical advice and details the results of an international survey of practising fossil preparators.
    • Trace-element geochemistry of molybdenite from porphyry Cu deposits of the Birgilda-Tomino ore cluster (South Urals, Russia)

      Plotinskaya, OY; Abramova, VD; Groznova, EO; Tessalina, SG; Seltmann, R; Spratt, J (Cambridge University Press, 2018-05)
      Mineralogical, electron microprobe analysis and laser ablation-inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry data from molybdenite within two porphyry copper deposits (Kalinovskoe and Birgilda) of the Birgilda-Tomino ore cluster (South Urals) are presented.† The results provide evidence that molybdenites from these two sites have similar trace-element chemistry. Most trace elements (Si, Fe, Co, Cu, Zn, Ag, Sb, Te, Pb, Bi, Au, As and Se) form mineral inclusions within molybdenite. The Re contents in molybdenite vary from 8.7 ppm to 1.13 wt.%. The Re distribution within single molybdenite flakes is always extremely heterogeneous. It is argued that a temperature decrease favours the formation of Re-rich molybdenite. The high Re content of molybdenite observed points to a mantle-derived source.
    • The remedial conservation and support jacketing of the Massospondylus carinatus neotype

      Graham, M; Choiniere, JN; Jirah, S; Barrett, PM (Palaeontologia africana, 2018-03-27)
      Massopondylus carinatus Owen, 1854 is a non-sauropodan sauropodomorph (‘prosauropod’) dinosaur whose remains are abundant in the Upper Karoo Supergroup sediments of southern Africa (e.g. Owen, 1854; Seeley, 1895; Cooper, 1981; Gow, 1990; Gow et al., 1990; Sues et al., 2004; Barrett and Yates, 2006; Reisz et al., 2005). It occurs at numerous localities in the Upper Elliot and Clarens formations of South Africa and Lesotho, as well as in the Forest Sandstone Formation of Zimbabwe (Haughton, 1924; Cooper, 1981; Kitching and Raath, 1984). Several almost complete skeletons are known, including skulls, and as a result Massospondylus has featured heavily in discussions of early dinosaur ecology, phylogeny and palaeobiology (e.g. Cooper, 1981; Barrett, 2000; Zelenitsky and Modesto, 2002; Reisz et al., 2005, 2012, Apaldetti et al., 2011, among many others). However, the original syntype series of Massospondylus carinatus was destroyed during World War II and shown to be taxonomically indeterminate, undermining the nomenclatural stability of this important taxon (Sues et al. 2004; Yates and Barrett, 2010). In order to rectify this problem, a complete skeleton representing an adult individual, BP/1/4934 (nicknamed ‘Big Momma’), was designated as the neotype (Yates and Barrett, 2010). BP/1/4934 was collected from the Upper Elliot Formation of Bormansdrift Farm, in the Clocholan District of the Free State, by Lucas Huma and James Kitching in 1980 (see Kitching and Raath, 1984, for locality details). This farm is also the type locality of the early turtle Australochelys (Gaffney and Kitching, 1994) and has yielded other Upper Elliot formation tetrapod material including the cynodont Pachygenelus and other sauropodomorph remains (Kitching and Raath, 1984). BP/1/4934 is the most complete specimen of a non-sauropodan sauropodomorph dinosaur known from the entire African continent and is therefore of major regional and international significance. In addition, since 1990 it has formed part of a permanent public exhibit showcasing African palaeontological discoveries in the J. W. Kitching Gallery of the Evolutionary Studies Institute (ESI) of the University of the Witwatersrand. During recent research work on BP/1/4934, as part of an on-going collaboration on early dinosaurs between the ESI and Natural History Museum, London (NHMUK), it was noted that its condition had deteriorated and that urgent remedial conservation work was required in order to preserve it for future generations. As a result, the specimen was temporarily removed from public display to facilitate this work, which is described in detail below (see also Graham, 2017). The primary purpose of the conservation project was to assess the condition of the specimen, undertake conservation in order to stabilise it and to manufacture ‘clam-shell’ type support mounts/jackets for each of the blocks to enable the specimen to be displayed in an articulated posture within a purpose-built display case. An important consideration was that the blocks should be readily accessible from both left and right sides to researchers whilst securing the fossil safely. Finally, this project also provided an opportunity to facilitate knowledge exchange between the conservation staff at the ESI and NHMUK, in order to share and extend technical expertise.
    • The origin of secondary heavy rare earth element enrichment in carbonatites: Constraints from the evolution of the Huanglongpu district, China

      Smith, M; Kynicky, J; Chen, X; Wenlei, S; Spratt, J; Jeffries, T; Brnicky, M; Kopriva, A; Cangeloosi, D (2018-03-04)
    • Mastodon and on and on…a moving story

      Allington-Jones, L (NatSCA, 2018-02-01)
      This is the latest chapter in the history of the mastodon (Mammut americanum (Kerr, 1792)) specimen on display at the Natural History Museum (NHM) in London (UK), and continues from the story told by Lindsay (1991). The specimen was selected to be one of the new exhibits for the Wonder Bays of the refurbished Hintze Hall, at the heart of the Waterhouse building. Residing, until recently, on open display in a different exhibition space, the mastodon required stabilisation and careful dismantling before transportation and reassembly in its new site.
    • The crystal structure of cesbronite, Cu 3 TeO 4 (OH) 4 : a novel sheet tellurate topology

      Missen, OP; Mills, SJ; Welch, MD; Spratt, J; Rumsey, MS; Birch, WD; Brugger, J (International Union of Crystallography, 2018-01-09)
      The crystal structure of cesbronite has been determined using single-crystal X-ray diffraction and supported by electron-microprobe analysis, powder diffraction and Raman spectroscopy. Cesbronite is orthorhombic, space group Cmcm, with a = 2.93172 (16), b = 11.8414 (6), c = 8.6047 (4) Å and V = 298.72 (3) Å3. The chemical formula of cesbronite has been revised to CuII3TeVIO4(OH)4 from CuII5(TeIVO3)2(OH)6·2H2O. This change has been accepted by the Commission on New Minerals, Nomenclature and Classification of the International Mineralogical Association, Proposal 17-C. The previously reported oxidation state of tellurium has been shown to be incorrect; the crystal structure, bond valence studies and charge balance clearly show tellurium to be hexavalent. The crystal structure of cesbronite is formed from corrugated sheets of edge-sharing CuO6 and (Cu0.5Te0.5)O6 octahedra. The structure determined here is an average structure that has underlying ordering of Cu and Te at one of the two metal sites, designated as M, which has an occupancy Cu0.5Te0.5. This averaging probably arises from an absence of correlation between adjacent polyhedral sheets, as there are two different hydrogen-bonding configurations linking sheets that are related by a ½a offset. Randomised stacking of these two configurations results in the superposition of Cu and Te and leads to the Cu0.5Te0.5 occupancy of the M site in the average structure. Bond-valence analysis is used to choose the most probable Cu/Te ordering scheme and also to identify protonation sites (OH). The chosen ordering scheme and its associated OH sites are shown to be consistent with the revised chemical formula.
    • Impact vaporization and Condensation: Laser Irradiation Experiments with Natural Planetary Materials

      Hamann, C; Hecht, L; Schäffer, S; Heunoske, D; Salge, T; Garbout, A; Osterholz, J; Greshake, A (The Woodlands, Texas, USA, 2018)
    • Identification of fossil worm tubes from Phanerozoic hydrothermal vents and cold seeps

      Georgieva, MN; Little, CTS; Watson, JS; Sephton, MA; Ball, AD; Glover, AG (2017-12-28)
    • Graham MR. (2017) The remedial conservation and support jacketing of the neotype specimen of the dinosaur Massospondylus carinatus

      Graham, M (PeerJ Inc., 2017-08-09)
      In March 2017 the neotype specimen of the Early Jurassic South African prosauropod dinosaur Massospondylus carinatus was appraised and condition reported at the Evolutionary Studies Institute, University of the Witwatersrand (WITS), Johannesburg, in readiness for remedial conservation and re-storage. The work was necessitated by deterioration of the specimen, which was caused by handling over a number of years and an inadequate and failing support mount. Formally numbered BP/1/4934, but more affectionately known to staff as ‘Big Momma’, the specimen was contained within several individual blocks on flimsy support bases and presented various conservation challenges.These included treatment of fractures and cracking across several surfaces of the fossil and the production of clam shell supports to allow for articulated display within the constraints of an existing display cabinet. Part of the brief was to facilitate safer handling and access for researchers. This project was led by the author who also trained the curatorial and preparation staff at WITS in the methods and techniques employed. The visit was funded by the Palaeontological Scientific Trust (PAST), the DST/NRF Centre of Excellence in Palaeosciences and The University of the Witwatersrand (WITS).
    • Curious bivalves: Systematic utility and unusual properties of anomalodesmatan mitochondrial genomes

      Williams, ST; Foster, PG; Hughes, C; Harper, EM; Taylor, JD; Littlewood, T; Dyal, P; Hopkins, KP; Briscoe, AG (2017-05)
    • Size effect on the mineralogy and chemistry of Mytilus trossulus shells from the southern Baltic Sea: implications for environmental monitoring

      Piwoni-Piórewicz, A; Kukliński, P; Strekopytov, S; Humphreys-Williams, Emma; Najorka, J; Iglikowska, A (2017-04)
    • SEM-microphotogrammetry, a new take on an old method for generating high-resolution 3D models from SEM images

      BALL, AD; JOB, PA; WALKER, AEL (Wiley, 2017-03-22)
      The method we present here uses a scanning electron microscope programmed via macros to automatically capture dozens of images at suitable angles to generate accurate, detailed three‐dimensional (3D) surface models with micron‐scale resolution. We demonstrate that it is possible to use these Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) images in conjunction with commercially available software originally developed for photogrammetry reconstructions from Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) cameras and to reconstruct 3D models of the specimen. These 3D models can then be exported as polygon meshes and eventually 3D printed. This technique offers the potential to obtain data suitable to reconstruct very tiny features (e.g. diatoms, butterfly scales and mineral fabrics) at nanometre resolution. Ultimately, we foresee this as being a useful tool for better understanding spatial relationships at very high resolution. However, our motivation is also to use it to produce 3D models to be used in public outreach events and exhibitions, especially for the blind or partially sighted.
    • Hypervelocity impact in low earth orbit: finding subtle impactor signatures on the Hubble Space Telescope

      Kearsley, AT; Colaux, JL; Ross, DK; Wozniakiewicz, PL; Gerlach, L; Anz-Meador, P; Griffin, T; Reed, B; Opiela, J; Palitsin, VV; et al. (2017)