In many parts of South Devon (e.g., Plymouth, Buckfastleigh, Torbay) the Devonian Limestones host extensive cave systems, many of which were explored in the 19th Century by William Pengelly and the Torquay Natural History Society. These caves contain a wealth of fossil remains, including mammoths, cave bears, hyenas, large sabre-toothed cats, etc., as well as the remains of early hominins (and their tools). This led Pengelly to write some of the earliest papers on the ‘Antiquity of Man’ and developing a chronology for the cave deposits. Kents Cavern is one of the most famous caves having links with Agatha Christie and Beatrix Potter. Its fossil record is, however, extremely important.
In this lecture Dr Hart will outline to us the near unique cave history of South Devon, along with other features such as raised beaches an sumerged forests.
Dr Malcolm Hart DSc FGS CSci CGeol is Emeritus Professor in Micropalaeontology at the University of Plymouth. His research on microfossils appears in over 400 scientific publications and a number of edited books.