The Chronicles of Charnia

Evening talk by Museum Researcher, Dr Frankie Dunn, expanding on her research into 570 million year old fossils and the rise of the animals. 

Animals today rule the land, seas and skies, but this was not always the case. Approximately 720 million years ago the Earth sunk into an ice age so severe it is sometimes known as ‘Snowball Earth’. When palaeontologists initially examined the rocks deposited after the ice sheets receded, they found a variety of strange and unusual fossils which increasing evidence suggests were ancient animals. In this talk we will focus on Charnia, a member of the long-extinct group Rangeomorpha that appears to have lived and died in the wake of Snowball Earth.

“That world is ended, as if it had never been”

 C. S. Lewis          

Dr Frankie Dunn is a Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 Research Fellow at Oxford University Museum of Natural History, and a Junior Research Fellow at Merton College. Her research is focused on using the fossil record to understand the early evolution of animals. Specifically, she works on a group of fossils – the ‘Ediacaran Biota’ – that are sometimes considered animals, but exhibit anatomies unlike anything alive today. Dr Dunn combines fieldwork with X-ray imaging and phylogenetic analyses to establish the true affinities of these fossil organisms.

Free, but advance booking required.


Suitable for adults and young people – beginners and experts welcome!
Speakers will start with the basics before introducing their specialist field of expertise.

6.00pm doors open for viewing of the First Animals exhibition
6.30pm talk begins in the Lecture Theatre