Hats Off to Sir David Attenborough

Sir David Attenborough is a real national treasure.  How we have enjoyed listening to his life stories broadcast on Radio 4.  These radio programmes are a series of short monologues with Sir David Attenborough narrating a number anecdotes from his long career in making natural history programmes.  His enthusiasm and love for the natural world comes across, as does his considerable knowledge about this subject.

Sir David Attenborough

He is a keen fossil hunter and has since childhood had a fascination for prehistoric animals such as ammonites and trilobites.  I believe he has gathered together over the years, quite a large collection.  Good luck to him we say, and how we enjoyed listening to his latest broadcast when he spoke eloquently about how important trace fossils are.  In his brief monologue on the subject of trackways; he discussed the remarkably well preserved fossils of Solnhofen.  The amazing fossil of a king crab trackway with the trackway preserved in the lithographic limestone and at the end of the trail, the fossilised remains of the arthropod that made them.

Sir David Attenborough also discussed some other trackways from Solnhofen, the mini-motorbike like tracks made by ammonite shells as they were washed along the bottom of the lagoon by currents.  We have not seen any of these particular trace fossils, but they way in which Sir David described them was quite mesmerising.

The Wonders of Trace Fossils

To end his segue into the wonders of trace fossils, he discussed the Laetoli footprints.  These hominid footprints (two adults and a juvenile) were discovered in 1978 by Mary Leakey.  These footprints have been dated to around 3.6 million years ago and are believed to have been made by Australopithecus afarensis.  Very few broadcasters can cover such a range and breadth of subject material, especially in a short ten minute programme.  However, Sir David is a very rare and special broadcaster indeed, listening to him talking about fossils, animals and other aspects of nature is a real pleasure.

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