Two Selwynites have discovered a new species of fossil that will shed light on early animal ecosystems.
Dr Tom Harvey, a Selwyn alumnus now at Leicester's Department of Geology, together with our Fellow Professor Nick Butterfield, discovered the new species while conducting a survey of microfossils in mudstones from western Canada.
Here Nick sets out four reasons why the discovery matters:
1) it's the only convincing loriciferan in the fossil record (loriciferans are a phylum of microscopic animals that live between sand grains, only discovered in 1980s), and now we know that they extend all the way back to the Cambrian period (500 million years, surprisingly close to the origin of animals themselves).
2) it's exquisitely well preserved and surprisingly modern in its construction. Though different from any living forms in detail, there is no question that there is a direct lineage leading from the fossil to modern forms.
3) it's tiny; the adults are less than a third of a millimetre long. This puts it fully in the category of 'meiofauna' which is recognized as a special category in terms of adaptation and behaviour. In terms of the famous 'Cambrian explosion' around 530 million years ago, it demonstrates that animals were madly diversifying in all directions at this time – experimenting with miniaturization as well as all the large and more obvious habits of the conventional fossil record
4) more generally, these 'small carbonaceous fossils' constitute a whole category of (previously overlooked) palaeontological information that is making substantial changes to how we view evolutionary patterns through deep time.
You can read more in the University of Leicester news release here: http://www2.le.ac.uk/offices/press/press-releases/2017/january/chance-discovery-of-new-fossil-from-half-billion-yearsd-ago-sheds-light-on-life-on-earth
College members have been supporting Time to Talk Day, which aims to get the nation talking about mental health. The organisers’ website is at http://www.time-to-change.org.uk/timetotalkday.
Our photo shows some of the JCR committee with publicity material for Time to Talk. Student disabilities officer Abbie Barnes says: “It is such an important message, and such a crucial way in moving forwards with dealing with mental health. If people learn that it is okay to talk about it, it can make such a difference.”
Selwyn last year received a very generous donation from Peter and Christina Dawson, and this has allowed the college to increase its support for students with mental health issues. There is advice on our provision in the current issue of the student guide, which is online.
The college is thrilled to welcome the acclaimed composer Paul Mealor as a visiting Fellow. Professor Mealor is best known for the music he wrote for the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and for his chart-topping song “Wherever You Are”. He is also responsible for a wide range of choral music, some of which has been performed and recorded by the Selwyn choir. You can read about his work here: http://www.paulmealor.com/biography/
While at Selwyn during this Lent term, Paul Mealor will be writing a Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis – titled the Selwyn Service – for Choral Evensong. The music will be premiered in our chapel on Sunday February 26th.
Our alumnus and Honorary Fellow Hugh Laurie was one of the winners at this year’s Golden Globes in Los Angeles. Hugh received the best supporting actor award for his role in the BBC/AMC series ‘The Night Manager’, in which he played the role of the evil Richard Roper. The ceremony recognised three Cambridge graduates for their role in the programme, the others being Tom Hiddleston (Pembroke College) and Olivia Colman (Homerton). In accepting the Golden Globe, Hugh began by saying that his winning must have been a mix-up – but he went on to launch a broadside against President-elect Donald Trump. You can watch his speech here:
Hugh Laurie arrived at Selwyn in 1978, following in the footsteps of his father Ran who had also attended the college. Both were keen oarsmen: Ran won an Olympic gold medal in 1948, and Hugh was a member of the Cambridge Boat Race crew. Hugh was made an Honorary Fellow of Selwyn in 2012.
One of the highlights in 2017 will be the Selwyn choir’s visit to California, where they will performing in San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral. The concert there will be on Saturday July 15th, and we’ll be releasing more details of other venues soon.
Keep an eye on everything we're planning for this new year on our events page: https://www.selwynalumni.com/eventscalendar. We'd pick out these highlights, in addition to our regular schedule in Cambridge and London:
On Wednesday March 22nd the Master, Roger Mosey, will be attending a reception for alumni and Friends in Hong Kong.
Roger moves to Melbourne for a similar reunion on Friday March 24th; and then to Sydney on Monday March 27th.
And we're planning an event in the Greater Manchester area on Friday April 28th, with more information to follow.
We'd really love to see as many alumni and Friends as possible this year, so do keep in touch – and come to visit us if you can.
The college offers its congratulations to Professor John Spencer, who has been appointed CBE in the New Year's Honours list. The official announcement says the award is for services to reforming the law concerning child witnesses, and Professor Spencer has been involved in a great many projects for law reform over the years. He was a consultant to the Law Commission on a project to reform the hearsay rule in 1995; a member of a committee of experts set up by the European Commission to study fraud on the Community finances; and a member of the Home Office group that drafted “Achieving Best Evidence in Criminal Proceedings” (1999-2001). He was also a consultant to the Auld Review of Criminal Courts in 2001.
In Selwyn, Professor Spencer became a Fellow of the college in 1970 – and he has been a hugely-respected teacher of many generations of Selwyn lawyers and a tutor to countless more of our students. We're delighted by the recognition he has received.