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Deep drilling project to reveal fossil record

Work to drill a 500m deep borehole to provide detailed information about the evolution of tetrapods has started in Berwick upon Tweed this week, the British Geological Survey (BGS) has announced.

Contractor Drilcorp is working on the Tetrapod World: early evolution and diversification (TW:eed) project which is hoping to use the 500m core to fill in gaps in the fossil record that hold the key to understanding evolution in the last 20M years.

The TW:eed project is being undertaken by the universities of Cambridge, Southampton and Leicester, the National Museums of Scotland and the BGS and is funded by the Natural Environment Research Council.

“Our finds will give us real clues as to how the aquatic and fish-like tetrapods of the Devonian evolved into land-going tetrapods during the Carboniferous,” said University of Cambridge professor Jenny Clack. “Until now, this period in evolution was almost entirely unknown, so that how and when tetrapods acquired such features as limbs and joints that could bear weight and move freely, and jaws that were adapted for feeding on land rather than in water, remained a mystery.

“The borehole core will allow us to place our fossils into a time-sequence showing us the order of events for the first time.”

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