Click here to skip to the content

Martin Gibling and Neil Davies

Professor Martin Gibling teaches in the Earth Sciences Department of Dalhousie University. His primary areas of research are sedimentary geology, surface, marine, and environmental geology, and economic and petroleum geology. Gibling was part of a team that discovered fossils of 318 million year old tetrapod trackways in the cliffs of the Tynemouth Creek Formation in southern New Brunswick. The trackways show what scientists suspected, that reptiles were the first vertebrates to live on the dry continental interiors. Amphibians need to return to water to breed but these early reptiles were amniotes and laid eggs adapted for dry environments, allowing them to live full time on land. The rocks that contain the footprints show that the reptiles lived on dry river plains hundreds of miles from the sea. Although not a palaeontologist, Dr. Gibling’s expertise in sedimentary geology is critical in putting together the bigger picture, which includes animals and plants, but allows the information to be understood in the proper environmental context.

View transcript (Adobe Flash Player, 1 minute 16 seconds, 4.6 MB)

For best viewing of this site, you will need the plugin: Adobe Flash Player

Dr. Neil Davies teaches in the Department of Geology, University of Ghent, Belgium. Together Davies and Gibling are looking at the effects plants had on the evolution of rivers. In the Cambrian, before the evolution of land plants most rivers washed across the Earth’s surface to the sea. By the Devonian with the rise of land plants, rivers were more complex meandering systems. By the Upper Carboniferous Period, we river systems are similar those of today, integrated with the land vegetation. As part of their research they are examining the Tynemouth Creek Formation, at how large plants such as Calamites may have colonized riversides and affected the flow of rivers, and at the same time engineered those rivers to allow the colonization of alluvial habitats by other plants and organisms.