Mark Carnall, The Other 97%: Making the most of the underwhelming fossils in museums

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About the Talk

Natural history museums remain one of the main ways that the public can come face to face with palaeontology, however, it’s only a small fraction of the science, biodiversity and number of specimens that is ever ‘on display’. Natural history museums seem to be stuck in a cycle of celebrating dinosaurs (and the occasional mammoth) with other fossils displayed exactly how they would have been in the 19th Century. This paper looks at other ways of popularising palaeontology and some of the modern challenges with interpretation.



Mark Carnall is the collection manager of the 500,000 zoological specimens held in the Oxford University Museum of Natural History. He has previously worked and volunteered at local authority, national and other university natural history museums.

He is the Collections Manager (Life Collections) with responsibilities for the vertebrate and invertebrate (non entomological collections) material. In addition to managing collections he lectures on biology, palaeobiology and museological topics. His research interests are digitisation in museums, public engagement and natural history, sector wide advocacy for collections, models, casts and replicas as well as the implications on 3D printing on museum collections.

In addition to collections management, Mark contributes to public engagement from stand up about natural history museums through to lectures, informal talks and workshops to all age groups.

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