Synapsids are one of the major groups of terrestrial vertebrates. They first appear in the Carboniferous period and since that time have gone through many radiation and extinction events. But what did these first stem-mammals look like, how did they live and how do they differ from modern mammals? These may sound like simple questions, but there is an underrepresentation of terrestial deposits from the Permian. How then can we understand larger-scale evolutionary patterns when so much data is missing?

Direct download: Ep49.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:03pm UTC

The Burgess Shale is probably the world's most famous lagerstätte (site of special preservation). Discovered in 1909 on Mt. Stephen, in the Canadian Rockies of British Colombia, Canada, this locality provided an early representation of the true biodiversity of the Cambrian Period. For decades, discoveries from this site have helped palaeontologists better understand the 'Cambrian Explosion' and the origins of modern lineages. Since that time, many more early lagerstätten have been discovered, so we asked Prof. Simon Conway Morris, from the University of Cambridge, if this well-studied locality still holds its relevance to modern palaeontology.

Direct download: Ep48.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:23pm UTC