Skip to content
About the Royal Society

Royal Society and the Russian Academy of Sciences Moscow Palaeontology workshop

07 October 2016

On 10-11 October 2016, leading scientists from the Royal Society (UK) and the Russian Academy of Sciences will hold a bilateral UK-Russia Palaeontology workshop in Moscow at the RAS Borissiak Palaeontological Institute. Co-chaired by Professor Michael Benton FRS, Professor of Vertebrate Palaeontology, University of Bristol, and Professor Sergei Rozhnov, Director of the Borissiak Palaeontological Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences (Moscow).

The workshop, titled “The Main biotic events in the Phanerozoic history of the Earth”, will discuss the short, but exciting, Phanerozoic Eon, roughly 542 mln years ago (mya) to the present day.  The name means “visible life” and identifies when complex life forms evolved and took their first breath of oxygen on dry land. The UK delegation consists of:

Professor Sir Martyn Poliakoff FRS, Foreign Secretary, (Royal Society)

Professor Michael Benton FRS, Professor of Vertebrate Palaeontology (University of Bristol)

Professor Derek Briggs FRS, G. Evelyn Hutchinson Professor of Geology and Geophysics (Yale University)

Professor Jennifer Clack FRS, Professor and Curator of Vertebrate Palaeontology, Department of Zoology (University of Cambridge)

Professor Dianne Edwards CBE FRS, Distinguished Research Professor in Palaeobotany, (Cardiff University)

Professor Christopher Stringer FRS, Individual Merit Researcher in Palaeontology, Department of Earth Sciences (Natural History Museum)

Dr Samuel Turvey, Royal Society University Research Fellow (Institute of Zoology)

Luke Clarke, Senior Policy Adviser (Royal Society)

Palaeontologists were “indirect” witnesses of the explosion of life forms in the Cambrian period (542-488 mya) when most modern animal groups appeared, Ordovician period (488-443 mya), when animals disseminated across the planet, then a dramatic ecological crisis that led to the extinction of about 90-95% of species at the boundary of the Permian-Triassic periods (252 mya), and the subsequent recovery that resulted in emerging marine animals followed by land dinosaurs and mammals.

What’s new? The cutting edge recent findings, some based on computational methods, will be discussed, including:

  • How flora and fauna changed during global ecological crises that happened time to time on the Earth, and if there are lessons for us;
  • How the first plants invaded land and made the first green revolution, and what fantastic opportunity for collaboration to study Russian Lower Devonian plants that were not available for the world community; 
  • How early humans occupied Britain about 900 thousand years ago;
  • And what were migration routes of ancient people, including from Denisova Cave in the Altai Mountains, coincided with migrating mammals.