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Fossilised Eyes and Brains

18 January 2024
Biology, Catastrophism, Geology

This one will surprise a few. At https://www.livescience.com/planet-earth/fossils/462-million-year-old-fossilized-eyes-and-brains-uncovered-in-secret-welsh-fossil-site … in what must have been instantaneous burial and preservation we have a fossil deposit at a secret Welsh location known as Castle Bank. However, they nearly give the game away as they say it is near Llandrindod Wells. The beauty of it was that it was discovered during the Covid lockdown. People went out walking, and on this occasion, scratching around for something to while away the hours. Especially as the weather was hot and dry during the first lengthy lockdown. I spent most of my time working an allotment or going for walks – some of which lasted for hours. Lots of vitamin D. It seems Joe Botting and Lucy Muir are both independent researchers rather than academics. After their discovery they crowdfunded the money to purchase a decent microscope to look closely at the fossils, and in detail. Some were so small they were no more than 3 mm in length, a fraction of an inch. Their research is published in the journal Nature Ecological Evolution [May, 2023].

The idea of secrecy is to avoid night hawks and clandestine fossil hunting. The deposit contains the preserved eyes and brains of creatures that died 462 million years ago – as well as numerous otherwise unknown species that lived and became extinct. In fact, the deposit consists almost wholly of soft bodied marine creatures and their organs. Some 170 different species have so far been uncovered of creatures that appear to have lived during the Cambrian period. One fascinating group are the fossilised digestive systems of trilobites.

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