Even if you are lukewarm about the subject matter at the start, after five minutes of listening to Dr Brusatte talk about fossil hunting and his new book, The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs, you’ll be keen to don your boots and explore Scotland’s rocks for Jurassic treasures.
Dr Brusatte speaks eloquently about why fossils are so exciting and how they present clues as to how the world is made. It’s a science, he tells the audience, that is wonderfully democratic; most fossils are found by climbers, construction workers and farmers, not necessarily scientists. Even more exciting is that, on average, there is one new dinosaur a week being discovered around the world. The idea that there is still so much to unearth, and that you can be a part of it, is exhilarating. If, however, you do find a large fossil, Brusatte urges you not to try and dig it out yourself. There is a fossil code and it advises people to report it to Scottish Natural Heritage so they can be excavated professionally.
Brusatte is passionate about Scotland’s role in palaeontology and explains how the Isle of Skye is a hot bed for Jurassic dinosaurs. The island contains preserved footprints from huge dinosaurs that would have been the weight of three elephants.
As the hour draws to a close in the Mitchell Library many people are keen to ask Dr Brusatte questions illustrating just how captivating the talk was. If his book, The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs, can inspire a new generation of palaeontologists as easily as this Aye Write event, then the book is sure to be a joy for all.