The Linnean Society Student Conference 2019

The Linnean Society of London, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London, W1J 0BF, United Kingdom
0207 434 4479 ext 211
Linnean Society Student Conference

DAY MEETING 10:00–17:30 Friday 1 February 2019

Come and listen to the next generation of natural historians speak about their research. In this all new conference we will be testing research students’ public engagement skills through both oral and poster competitions. Support these up-and-coming scientists and learn about the latest natural history research. The conference will end with a guest lecture by Prof Mike Benton FLS, University of Bristol.

Selected speakers include (titles pending):

  • Leif Bersweden - Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
  • Camilla Blasi Foglietti - Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Joyce Dixon - University of Edinburgh
  • Jason Irving - University of Kent
  • Fiona Jones - University of Oxford
  • Alexandra McGoran - NHM & Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Joe Millard - UCL
  • Oliver Wilson - University of Reading

Selected posters include:

  • Angelina Ceballos-Escalera Fernandez - Imperial University, NHM
  • Katerina Evangelou - Central St Martins
  • Marc Fradera-Soler - Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
  • Angelo Moerland - University of Reading & Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
  • Ana Silva - NHM & University of Bristol
  • Katie Thompson - Bournemouth University
  • Anna Westland - UCL
  • Heather White - King's College London, NHM, UCL


The Origin of Feathers

Mike Benton

It’s well known that feathers are a key character of birds. Indeed, the possession of feathers and powered flight are seen as key innovations that drove the adaptive radiation of birds. But when and why did feathers originate? Since 1995, remarkable fossils from China have shown us that theropod dinosaurs also had a diversity of feathers, including complex flight feathers.

Feather-like structures have also been identified in ornithischian dinosaurs that are some distance from birds in the evolutionary tree; these raised serious questions about homology. Our recent discovery that pterosaurs, the flying reptiles, also had four feather-like structures, all of them similar to simple feathers seen in dinosaurs, could suggest that feathers originated much earlier than we had thought, in fact about 250 million years ago, in the Early Triassic. The debate touches on questions of major events in macroevolution, feather functions, and evo-devo genomic regulation patterns.

Mike Benton is Professor of Vertebrate Palaeontology at the University of Bristol, and founder of the MSc in Palaeobiology, which has so far hosted over 400 students. He works on macroevolution, drivers of evolution, mass extinctions, and dinosaurs and their relatives.