OU on the BBC: Fossil Detectives - West and Wales

Updated Tuesday 5th August 2008

The team from the BBC/OU series Fossil Detectives discover some of the secrets that can be found in the West of England and Wales

Mike Bassett and Hermione Cockburn at Caerphilly Castle Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Production team

Fossils can tell us a lot about ourselves, not just our physical past, but also how we relate to fossils, ancient creatures and lost worlds. On the Northwest Coast at Formby, Hermione has come to see some beautiful footprints preserved in the sticky sand. But these aren’t the tracks of some mysterious beast; they are clearly the tracks of modern humans. Dating up to 5000 years ago, these footprints give a tantalising glimpse of the behaviour of our direct ancestors.

Another fossil found in the West has provided a different insight into our prehistoric lives. The Red Lady of Paviland is part of a human skeleton found in caves on the South Coast of Wales. Now recognised to be the evidence of the earliest formal burial in Western Europe, scientists have been able to discern a great deal from these scant remains, including a terrible mistake made when first naming the find.

On the coast, just near Cardiff, you can find the oldest preserved dinosaur footprints anywhere in the country. Dinosaur expert, and regular Fossil Detective, Phil Manning is here to explain what extraordinary insights such footprints can provide about the lives of dinosaurs.

Combining intricate details of dinosaur footprints, with characteristics of their fossilised bones, Phil and his team are able to use powerful computer programmes to breath life into these ancient creatures, creating running, jumping and hunting dinosaurs. Phil demonstrates the technique with the most iconic of all dinosaurs Tyrannosaurus rex.

Fossil Detectives also reveals what a massive industrial engine factory has to do with some incredibly delicate fossils; discovers how Shropshire was once covered with the first ever tropical reefs, 400 million years ago; and explores the ancient folklore of fossils; revealing which fossil was once thought to be food for the dead.

Take it further

Explore the Geology Toolkit

Watch the My Favourite Fossil videos

 

Study Fossils and the history of life with the Open University

Sample Reading the rocks and ecology - free learning from OpenLearn

First broadcast: Thursday 21 Aug 2008 on BBC FOUR

 

For further information, take a look at our frequently asked questions which may give you the support you need.

Have a question?

Other content you may like

OU on the BBC: Fossil Detectives - South of England Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Production team article icon

TV, Radio & Events 

OU on the BBC: Fossil Detectives - South of England

The BBC/OU series Fossil Detectives discovers some of the secrets that can be found in the South of England

Article
OU on the BBC: Fossil Detectives - South West England Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Production team article icon

TV, Radio & Events 

OU on the BBC: Fossil Detectives - South West England

The team from the BBC/OU series Fossil Detectives discover some of the secrets that can be found in the South West of England

Article

Science, Maths & Technology 

Fossil Detectives

This event took place on 21st October 2008 and was hosted by Hermione Cockburn, presenter of the brand-new OU/BBC series Fossil Detectives. Hermione, who has also presented Coast and Rough Science, talks about the making of Fossil Detectives and other OU/BBC series, the extraordinary fossils found in Britain, and some of our most surprising fossil-hunters. Fossil Detectives is a brand new series, produced by the prestigious BBC Natural History Unit and The Open University, which showcases Britain’s amazing wealth of fossils, what they reveal about the mysteries of life and worlds long gone.

Audio
1 hr
OU on the BBC: Fossil Detectives - Central England Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Production team article icon

TV, Radio & Events 

OU on the BBC: Fossil Detectives - Central England

Hermione and the Fossil Detectives team learn the secrets of fossil preservation in Central England

Article
OU on the BBC: Fossil Detectives - About the series Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Production team article icon

TV, Radio & Events 

OU on the BBC: Fossil Detectives - About the series

Discover how we'll be decoding the secrets of the past. Find out more about the series.

Article
OU on the BBC: Fossil Detectives - East of England Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Production team article icon

TV, Radio & Events 

OU on the BBC: Fossil Detectives - East of England

The BBC/OU series Fossil Detectives team reveal the surprises held in gravel driveways during their trip to the East of England

Article
OU on the BBC: Fossil Detectives - London Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Production team article icon

TV, Radio & Events 

OU on the BBC: Fossil Detectives - London

The team from the BBC/OU series Fossil Detectives discover some of the secrets that can be found in London

Article
OU on the BBC: Fossil Detectives - North of England Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Production team article icon

TV, Radio & Events 

OU on the BBC: Fossil Detectives - North of England

Airports can be a rich source of fossils, as the the team from the BBC/OU series Fossil Detectives discover in the North of England

Article
OU on the BBC: Fossil Detectives - Scotland Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Production team article icon

TV, Radio & Events 

OU on the BBC: Fossil Detectives - Scotland

Edinburgh was the inspiration for James Hutton's work on the age of the Earth; so what will the team from the BBC/OU series Fossil Detectives find in Scotland?

Article