Foraminifera “Star sand” Hatoma Island – Japan, Psammophile. (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.)

In the last of my interviews with Spanish scientists, Fernando Caballero Santamaria describes his work in palaeontology at the University of the Basque Country, and his experiences in discussing science-faith questions with his colleagues. 

I work with microfossils – remnants of a type of marine plankton called foraminifera. In some kinds of rock you can find thousands of these tiny fossils in every cubic centimetre, and they’re a great way to study geological change. As a PhD student I looked at the great extinction at the end of the cretaceous and beginning of the tertiary period (the K-T boundary) that correlates with volcanic and meteorite activity. During that particular extinction most plankton disappeared, and then completely new species began to appear – very small ones at first – that re-colonised all the different ecological niches. My research group has now helped to establish three other geological boundaries (Global Stratotypes and Section Points) as a reference for researchers around the world. Just two weeks ago we had an event where we put a ‘golden spike’ in an important rock stratotype in the Basque country. Continue reading