Specialist one-day classes

Specialist one-day classes

These are designed to be the at a very high level, including the most authoritative classes available anywhere, in the tutor's specialist subjects. Classes involve presentations, specimens and microscope work.

At this level, requests for additional specialised classes should be discussed well in advance.

£50 per person (2-6 people); £80 for one-on-one tuition.


The evolution of sponges

Sponges are a diverse group of animals with a complex history. Some groups have built reefs, and others have almost entirely escaped being fossilised at all. In addition, our understanding of the early evolution of sponges is in a state of flux due to unexpected recent discoveries, and the origins of modern groups can only be seen by careful studies of the fossil record.

This course will introduce sponge skeletons, and their fossil record. We will look at the key features that can be used to describe and interpret them, and anomalous recent discoveries that are changing our understanding of how sponges evolved.

Visitors are encouraged to bring their own fossil sponges to add to the discussion!


Ordovician exceptionally-preserved faunas

Unlike the Cambrian period, with its numerous exceptionally preserved biotas such as the Burgess Shale and Chengjiang deposits, the Ordovician is relatively poor in these palaeontological holy grails. A number of new faunas are now being discovered around the world, including several in Wales.

Uniquely, the tutor has worked on many of the newly-discovered faunas, from Wales, Morocco and China (discovering several of them!), and has collections that allow a thorough investigation of the sediments, fossil preservation, and faunas. The main purpose will be to interpret the faunas, their taphonomy, and what they tell us about the development of Ordovician ecosystems.


Identification of Hemiptera (bugs)

Bugs are a major order of insects including shieldbugs, leafhoppers and aphids, in total comprising some 1800 species in the UK. Some groups (well, the shielbugs) are extremely popular with amateur naturalists, but others are harder to get to grips with. They are, nonetheless, a fascinating and largely overlooked group that are often approachable from macrophotography alone, with dissection kept to a minimum.

The tutor is one of the authors of britishbugs.org.uk, specialising particularly on the leafhoppers, planthoppers and psyllids, and less well-known groups of heteropterans. The day will provide an introduction to the group as a whole, and to the subgroups within them. We will examine their morphology, ecology, and identification difficulties, including tips on photography and (where all else fails) dissection. Visitors are encouraged to bring photographs of problem bugs for identification and discussion, and to bring a camera in case of an opportunity to find bugs outdoors on the day.

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