News

Monday, 4 May 2015

Our next talk and summer party on May 14th, "Dinosaurs and Bird Evolution" by Dr Darren Naish

Our next talk and summer party on May 14th, "Dinosaurs and Bird Evolution" by Dr Darren Naish

There is no longer any serious doubt among scientists that birds descend from small predatory dinosaurs that lived about 160 million years ago, during the Jurassic. Recent discoveries have revealed a wealth of fossil feathered dinosaurs and early birds that completely blur any supposed distinction between birds and other kinds of dinosaurs. The take-home message from this is that birds really are just one lineage among the dinosaurs, albeit the only lineage that survived the mass extinction event 66 million years ago.

The fossil record shows how filamentous structure covering the body evolved in theropods as predecessors to true, complex feathers and that theropods of many sorts were more bird-like in appearance than conventionally thought.

In this talk, we will also look at the diversity, anatomy and biology of animals only distantly related to birds, including spinosaurs, allosaurs and tyrannosaurs, as well as the behaviour of the remarkable scythe-clawed therizinosaurs and sickle-clawed dromaeosaurs.

Finally, recent work has shown how birds emerged as the end-products of a sustained phase of miniaturisation within theropods. It is this miniaturisation that enabled this dinosaur group to survive and thrive beyond the end of the Cretaceous.

Dr Darren Naish is a palaeontologist and science writer associated with (but not employed by!) the University of Southampton. His published work has mostly been on theropod dinosaurs and birds, pterosaurs, and the sea-going ichthyosaurs. He blogs at Tetrapod Zoology, currently hosted at Scientific American http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/tetrapod-zoology/
and tweets as @TetZoo

Doors open 6.15 pm Tea, coffee & biscuits available on arrival

Our AGM will take place between 6.45-7.15 pm: The talk will take place between 7.15-8.45 pm and will be followed by our summer party with drinks & finger food.

RSPB members £4, non-members £5, under 16s free. + £1 extra to cover refreshments

St Columba's Church Hall is the big, white stone Scottish church on the corner of Pont St and Lennox Gardens SW1, 3-4 minutes' walk from the back of Harrods.

Tube: Knightsbridge (Piccadilly Line) 5-8 mins' walk; Sloane Square (District & Circle Lines) 15 mins.

Bus: 9, 10, 52 (Knightsbridge); 14, 74, 414, C1 (Brompton Rd, passing western end of Pont St); 19, 22, 137, 452, C1 (Sloane St, passing eastern end of Pont St).