Scientists visit Falconer Museum as part of Siwalik fossil research project

Two eminent scientists researching fossils will be allowed access to the Falconer Museum when they visit Forres tomorrow (1 June)

The Friends of the Falconer Museum will welcome Dr Christopher Stimpson and Dr Emma Nicholls from Oxford University Museum of Natural History, who will be in Forres on 1 and 2 June.

The duo are currently engaged in research into the famous fossils found in the Siwalik Hills of northern India. The Siwalik fossil fauna included a wide range of extinct mammals including mastodon, rhinoceros, giraffe and a monstrous tortoise Colossochelys atlas.

Chair of the Friends of the Falconer Museum, Dr John R Barrett, said: “One of the earliest researchers to unearth Siwalik fossils was Hugh Falconer, a physician and botanist from Forres, who is revered today as the ‘father of Indian palaeontology’.

Five tons of fossil bones

“Falconer worked for the East India Company in India from 1829. When ill-health forced him to return home in 1842 he brought back seventy chests of dried plants and five tons of fossil bones from the Siwalik Hills.

“Siwalik fossils collected by Hugh Falconer in the Himalayan foothills formed part of the foundation collection in the museum that Hugh and his brother Alexander endowed in their home town of Forres.”

Dr Stimpson’s research seeks to catalogue collections of Siwalik fossils that are dispersed among museums throughout Britain and Ireland. The Forres element of the project is supported by a grant from the Friends of the Falconer Museum.

The research grant is just one element in an ambitious programme of events and initiative that celebrate the museum’s 150th birthday.


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