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Fossils

Duration:
45 minutes
First broadcast:
Thursday 22 March 2001

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the significance of fossils. In the middle of the nineteenth century the discoveries of the fossil hunters used to worry poor Ruskin to death, he wrote in a letter in 1851, “my faith, which was never strong, is being beaten to gold leaf…If only those Geologists would let me alone I could do very well, but those dreadful Hammers! I hear the clink of them at the end of every cadence of the Bible verses.”

The testimony of fossils over the ages has been remarkably eloquent when we have wanted to listen; and now with mass spectrometers, electron microscopes and secondary X-ray detectors, these long dead organisms can speak to us of the past in ways they never could before.

With Richard Corfield, Research Associate in the Department of Earth Sciences at Oxford University; Dianne Edwards, Distinguished Research Professor in Palaeobotany at Cardiff University; Richard Fortey, Senior Research Palaeontologist at the Natural History Museum.

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