The third Big Cats in Britain (BCiB) conference is almost upon us: it happens from 7th-9th March 2008 at Tropiquaria (Watchet, Somerset). This time round, I’m speaking, and most of my research time is currently being eaten up as I prepare for the meeting (I’m also speaking in the first week of March on ‘Britain’s changing herpetofauna’ for the Southampton Natural History Society… haven’t really started preparing that talk yet). My talk is titled ‘The deep time history of Britain’s felid fauna’ and is essentially a palaeontological/archaeological view of British cats. You could argue that this perspective is irrelevant to the British big cat phenomenon – on the other hand, it seems to me to be a useful area to cover, especially given that people are increasingly interested in what role cats could or do play in British ecology. Well, we need a historical perspective before we can evaluate that further [adjacent image shows a Cave lion Panthera leo spelaea to scale with a person. Image from here, © Carl Buell].
I’m not just covering vague stuff like ‘oooh, we used to have lions in Trafalgar Square’, but a lot of material that I don’t expect people have heard before: the proposed late survival in Britain of Homotherium, the history of jaguars and pumas in the Old World, the phylogeography and life appearance of European leopards, the survival of lynxes in Britain until the 7th century or later, the proposed presence of African wildcats in Ireland, and more. I will publish the contents of the talk here at Tet Zoo early in March [adjacent image shows one of my slides]. Anyway, this partly explains the continuing lack of long articles here, sorry about that. To those particularly interested in the whole British big cats thing, do consider coming along to the conference if you can make it: for more information visit the BCiB page here. The meeting opens with a press conference and public debate (!). You can pay on the door (only £10 I think). As always, you can help support my attendance at the conference by throwing money in my direction – thanks to those who have provided much-needed support in the past!
Am being kept busy with lots of other stuff as well – was in London and Oxford last week for assorted reasons, and as I’m sure you know a lot has been happening as goes aetogate. I refer you to my excellent colleagues Laelaps, Dinochick and Janet Stemwedel.
UPDATE: mandatory reading from The Ethical Palaeontologist here.