Progressive Palaeontology 2023 Liverpool

The Palaeontographical Society is delighted to sponsor this annual conference for early career academics, which took place in Liverpool from the 1st – 3rd June. ProgPal is student-led, and provides not only a chance to share research, but gain key career skills. In this blog, we hear from organising committee member Amber Wood-Bailey.

ProgPal attendees on the post conference field trip to the Great Orme complex, Llandudno.

This year marked a momentous occasion as we proudly hosted the 30th anniversary of Progressive Palaeontology right here in Liverpool. We were thrilled to welcome four speakers hailing from the major universities in our region. Kicking off the event with enthusiasm, Dr. Alana Sharp (University of Liverpool) took us on a journey exploring the use of micro CT scanning in palaeontology, with a special focus on Australian taxa. Dr. Charlotte Brassey (Manchester Metropolitan University) then delved into the intriguing evolution and morphology of the baculum (penis bone). Then, Dr. Peter Falkingham (Liverpool John Moores University) expertly guided us through the process of deciphering dinosaur locomotory patterns using footprints. And finally, Dr. Katrina Jones (University of Manchester) offered thought-provoking insights into the role of anatomy as a modern science and how it can unravel mysteries about extant animals.

Left to right: Dr Charlotte Brassey (MMU), Dr Alana Sharp (UoL), Dr Peter Falkingham (LJMU) and Dr Katrina Jones (UoM).

The first official day commenced with two engaging workshops and a poster session, all rounded off with an enjoyable icebreaker event. In one workshop, attendees were introduced to the art of estimating body mass in extinct animals, while committee member Matt Dempsey led an insightful session on the captivating history of palaeo-art and its potential as a valuable tool for scientists. The evening icebreaker provided the perfect opportunity for attendees to connect and socialise with their peers, fostering a vibrant atmosphere.

Organising committee member Matthew Dempsey giving the official Welcome.

The excitement continued the next day, beginning with an keynote address by Sophia Anderson. She introduced an innovative technique for grouping ecological factors, such as diet and locomotion, using cluster analysis. The rest of the day was brimming with thought-provoking talks from attendees. All talks were streamed live to online delegates, thanks to Palaeocast – who provided equipment and technical expertise. As the day drew to a close, we gathered for the annual dinner where we recognized the exceptional efforts of our student presenters. Congratulations to Jake Atterby for receiving the Best Talk award, Laura Devine for Best Lightning Talk, and Megan Jones for the impressive Best Poster Award. Their hard work and dedication earned them a well-deserved prize: a free PeerJ publication.

Left to right: Jake Atterby (University of Birmingham, Best Talk), Megan Jones (University of Manchester, Best Poster) and Laura Devine (University of Portsmouth Best Lightning Talk).

The conference concluded with a memorable trip to Llandudno, where delegates enjoyed a hike to search for Carboniferous fossils and indulged in the town’s famous fish and chips.  

We extend our heartfelt gratitude to all the speakers, attendees, and sponsors who made the 30th anniversary of Progressive Palaeontology a resounding success. In particular, we’d like to thank Company of Biologists, the University of Liverpool’s Alumni & Friends Fund, the Palaeontographical Society, Peer J and Palaeocast. Here’s to another 30 years of progress and discovery in palaeontology!

On the field trip, attendees walked to the summit of the Great Orme complex in Llandudno to search for Carboniferous fossils