Steven Walker has made his mark in Palaeontology by naming a new species of fossil.

The Kent student’s research studying 400 million-year-old specimens in Morocco will now be seen and cited by academics worldwide, a significant achievement for the Geology With Physical Geography Edge Hill undergraduate.

The 21-year-old former Sittingbourne Community College student – who eventually plans to complete a PhD – continued and finalised his research, working in collaboration with academics from universities in the US, China and Wales.

He subsequently presented his findings as a poster presentation at the Palaeontological Association Annual Meeting, with the abstract published in the Palaeontological Association Newsletter.

He also compiled a manuscript, published in Geological Society Special Publications, interpreting the fossils and naming them as a new species.

Some of the finds confirmed in the published report

Steven, who was attracted to study at Edge Hill thanks to the expansive and beautiful university campus, as well as the inspirational course department, staff and equipment, cited first-year field trips as igniting an interest that would push him towards his biggest achievement.

“Visiting Anglesey, Wales and Wexford, Republic of Ireland developed my understanding of geology and the applications of the paleo-environment to animals living millions of years ago.”

This initial interest led to Steven working on a small-funded six-week research project in summer 2017 at Edge Hill, based on fossils collected in Morocco by academics a few years earlier.

“The fossils had a general description and interpretation of the fossil with some details of a paleoenvironment and mode of living.

“My initial findings were inclusive within the lab, which included a more detailed description of the fossil tubes, help signing a name for the species, geochemical analysis and further interpretations of the morphology and the involvement within the paleoenvironment and mode of life.”

Steven’s subsequent research entailed compiling a scientific report, an academic poster, supplementary data measurements, descriptions and interpretations of the fossil, and creating graphical and geochemical figures for the manuscript.

“Over my second year, I had help from the other authors on this project: Dr. Lucy Muir, Dr. Joe Botting, Prof. James Schiffbauer & Dr. Breandán Anraoi MacGabhann, as well as geochemistry guidance from Dr. Joaquín Cortés,” Steven said.

Steven presented an academic poster at the Palaeontological Association international annual conference in 2017 at Imperial College, London – before inclusion into the Geological Society Special Publication.

“The manuscript best suited the volume SP485 The Great Ordovician Biodiversification Event: Insights from the Tafilalt Biota, Morocco.

“I described characteristics and features such as size, shape and structure of the tubes and what they are made of through mineral identification and geochemistry. This formed an interpretation of the fossil and correlated it to literature.

“The fossil bears some resemblance to the genus of Onuphionella (segmented worm); however, it did not fulfil the characteristics of previously described species. Thus, was interpreted as a new species Onuphionella corusca sp. nov.”

Steven was selected for a Chancellor’s scholarship in 2018 – being awarded £2,000 towards his studies. Find out more about applying for a scholarship here.

Click here for more information about studying for a degree in the Department of Geography and Geology.