The auditorium at the Royal Tyrrell Museum should be busy this Thursday, February 9 as Dr. Jon Noad tells people how to decipher animal behaviour from so-called 'trace fossils.' Dr. John NoadDr. Jon Noad. Photo submitted.
"If you have a trace of an animal, then that's something it was actually doing: it could have been feeding, it could have been walking, it could have been fighting; and you can start piecing together the evidence from the trace fossils to work out what that animal was actually doing," he explained.
"Footprints is the one that most people think about (but) there are also lots of animal burrows, particularly from invertebrate animals like worms," Noad continued. "Some of the more unusual trace fossils are things like nests and feeding traces, so you might have scratches on the bone that you could tie back to something like a T-rex."
The actual science is called ichnology and Noad uses what he calls neo-ichnology to link the behaviour of animals today with their ancestors from the past.
"There's certain types of unusual trace activity like bird feeding traces, where  birds are probing their beaks into the sediment or waggling their beaks around to try and look for food," he pointed out. "We see that in the recent, but that hasn't been identified yet in the fossil record."
Noad says Thursday's talk will start in the deep past and work its way to traces left behind by ancient people.
It gets underway in the museum auditorium at 11:00 a.m. Admission to the Speaker Series is free.
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