Former MSc student wins Curry Prize

Thomas Farrell who completed the Palaeobiology MSc last year has been awarded the Geologists’ Association Curry Prize for his thesis: “New ecdysozoan worms from the Sirius Passet Lagerstätte and their implications for the evolutionary history of Ecdysozoa.” The project was supervised by Jakob Vinther.

The Geologists’ Association Curry Prize is awarded each year for the best Masters’ thesis on any earth sciences topic, from geophysics to environmental geochemistry, palaeobiology to planetary geology. The lucky recipient is given a certificate and a cheque for £1000.

Further details of the Award are here, and previous winners here.

It’s an interesting point that Students from the Bristol MSc in Palaeobiology have won the award now six times since 2009, when the award started.

Grace Kinney-Broderick publishes paper on tuatara-like sphenodontian from the Early Jurassic

The tuatara, Sphenodon punctatus, has often been called a ‘living fossil’ because it is the sole species of its lineage, having been separate from the squamates (lizards and snakes) since the Triassic. Indeed, diverse Mesozoic sphenodontians show the group was once much more diverse and successful than it now is.

Now, MSc student Grace Kinney-Broderick is a co-author on a paper in Scientific Reports about about a new sphenodontian from the Early Jurassic of Arizona, USA, called Navajosphenodon sani. The new fossil is represented by a nearly complete articulated skeleton and dozens of upper and lower jaws, spanning a range of developmental stages. Phylogenetically it sits right beside the modern Sphenodon, close to the Early Jurassic Cynosphenodon from Mexico, indicating a lineage that has remained anatomically almost unchanged for nearly 200 million years.

The work was conducted at Harvard University with Dr. Stephanie Pierce and Dr. Tiago Simões. Grace was completing her undergraduate BSc at Boston College during this time by working in collaboration with the Museum of Comparative Zoology. Grace comments, “I am a co-author on my first publication! I am beyond excited and so thankful to Dr. Pierce and Dr. Simões for the opportunity.”

[Right] Grace and the title page of her paper.