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