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  • Writer's pictureAryan Shah

Vertebrate Palaeontology and what it means to me...

This blog is dedicated to the largest factor of my character, the study of prehistoric creatures, the infamous... Dinosaurs! My life so far has revolved largely around Palaeontology and my career in this field in the future. 

Here's my story - 

When I was four years old, I was taken to the Natural History Museum in South Kensington by my parents. Now at that age, I vaguely knew what a dinosaur was. In the dinosaurs exhibition, my parents took me to the huge animatronic Tyrannosaur! I was petrified!! I immediately jumped into the arms of my mum and cried throughout the day because of that sight. However, despite my fear, I was still quite interested in these unique animals. My burning passion for the subject has flourished since that day!

As I grew older, I read more books and watched more and more documentaries about dinosaurs and I had a fairly stable understanding of these unique creatures. I had been to the museum more than 25 times by the age of 11! I joined secondary school and understood the importance of note taking and therefore applied that to my Palaeontological studies outside of school. 

Here on, it gets serious.

I wanted to share my love for Palaeontology with the world, so I created this blog! This was an enormous achievement for me as I felt like i needed to put my thoughts somewhere.

In year 10, with 3 posts on this blog, I decided to start a Higher Project Qualification (HPQ) which is half a GCSE. In a HPQ, you are to write a 2500 word essay on a question of your choice, hence I chose 'Can birds be considered as dinosaurs?'. I already knew that they were dinosaurs but I was determined to know why by delving deeper into the history of birds! I studied for it for a while, I'm talking a year, I made the necessary notes and plans for this project. I found that Paul Barrett and Darren Naish's book, 'Dinosaurs How they Lived and Evolved' benefited me hugely! 

I got into contact with Paul Barrett as I was amazed by his fantastic book and the research involved too; in fact he looked at this blog and commented on it! I was so determined after this event, that I posted more and more, eventually putting my entire HPQ research on here!

My HPQ was a big turning point for me as I felt more confident in this field. It enabled me to contact Mike Benton, the president of the PalaeoBiology research group at Bristol University, who managed to have a look at this blog, providing some constructive criticism for me, which is amazing!

I feel that Vertebrate Palaeontology completes me; it makes me who I am today. Everytime I think about it, the future, the university I want to go to, it gives me an energy boost, instantly increasing my self esteem. It definitely makes me more confident in life, as I feel that if I'm feeling lazy during work, I just imagine how this laziness contributes to tests, results and end of year grades and eventually my capability of doing what I want to do in the future.

I am currently doing my work experience at the Etches Collections of Jurassic Marine Life, which is an amazing museum in Kimmeridge, Dorset with over 3000 fossils from the Kimmeridge Clay! It was founded by Dr. Steve Etches MBE, a plumber turned Palaeontologist. 

They now follow me on twitter! 

I am doing some PR work here as well as helping out in Steve's private workshop. I have also appeared in the charity legacy video for the Etches Collection, as I answer some questions about myself on camera! I am going on a Kimmeridge Bay tour soon and am too excited! I feel as though this work experience will be superb and imperative for my career going forwards, teaching me how to run a museum and expanding my Palaeontological knowledge.

A big thank you to the Etches Collections, please do go and give them a visit and immerse yourself in the seas of Kimmeridge during the Jurassic Period. 

I hope that I can inspire younger people to pursue Palaeontology, as I feel it is not as popular as it could be. In addition to this, being from an Indian background, I really want to encourage more Palaeontologists from the Asian community, as I am positive that there are very few Asian kids who aspire to be Palaeontologists.

Vertebrate Palaeontology is the driving force for me. Without it, I would definitely not be the person I am today. I am instantly filled with joy in terms of Palaeontology. I am known for it and I will strive to do anything to fulfill my dreams of becoming a Vertebrate Palaeontologist.


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