Scotland’s Favourite Fossils
Scotland has amazing fossils, with a huge variety of different animals and plants stretching back more than a billion years. From giant sea scorpions and dinosaurs to delicate graptolites, Scotland has gathered a fantastic diversity of fossil types as it has travelled across the globe over hundreds of millions of years. Many of these species are unique to Scotland, and new finds are still being made that close important gaps in the fossil record.
To celebrate this rich fossil heritage, the Scottish Geodiversity Forum organised a public poll to choose Scotland’s favourite fossils. Several hundred people have taken part, and the nation’s five favourite fossils were celebrated in the Fossil Five Awards at the Hunterian Museum on Tuesday 24 March. City of Glasgow Bailie Phil Greene presented the Awards to champions of the top five fossil groups.
Scotland’s five favourite fossil groups represent the diversity of fossils found across Scotland, including many of historical and scientific importance. You can read more about all these groups, and other important fossils in the Scotland’s Fossils section of this website. The Fossil Five Awards go to:
1. Devonian Fish: Fossils from the Devonian ‘Age of Fishes’ are found across Scotland, recording a time when life flourished in rivers and lakes. Find out more about the fish in this blog article about the Pavement Fish project, and more about Hugh Miller (geologist, folklorist, national newspaper editor, church reformer and best-selling author on geology) from The Friends of Hugh Miller.
2. Jurassic dinosaurs of the Isle of Skye: Fossilised footprints and bone remains found on the Isle of Skye show that rarely-preserved Middle Jurassic dinosaurs once roamed there. Find out more about these reptiles from the PalAlba research group.
3. Early tetrapods: The search for the missing link between amphibians and land-dwelling reptiles has been greatly enhanced by fossil discoveries in Scotland. The TW:eed Project is currently looking for fossils in the Scottish Borders – find out more at the Tetrapod World Blog.
4. Trilobites: Perhaps one of the most recognisable fossils, slater-like trilobites of all different shapes and sizes can be found across Lowland Scotland.
5. Fossil trees: During the late Carboniferous period around 310 million years ago, the Scottish Lowlands were covered in dense tropical rainforest. One of the best places to see these trees is at Fossil Grove in Glasgow.
Neil Clark, Curator of Palaeontology at the Hunterian Museum, Glasgow, says “It is most appropriate that Scotland should be voting for its most popular fossil. Scotland has one of the most important fossil heritages in the world, bridging what were wide chasms in our knowledge of the evolutionary history of life on Earth, and providing us with some of the most significant and aesthetic discoveries ever found. It is also a celebration of those collectors who have provided us with these fascinating fossils, and without whom the science of palaeontology would barely exist.”
Martin Gostwick, Secretary of the Friends of Hugh Miller, says “Hugh Miller, one of the great pioneers and popularisers of geology as a science, would be surprised, and doubtless very pleased, to see his Devonian fossil fish selected as Scotland’s favourite fossils. We will be celebrating this honour on his behalf at his Museum in the little Black Isle town of Cromarty, where some of his most striking finds are displayed.”