Christopher Duffin

Christopher Duffin
Natural History Museum, London · Department of Earth Sciences

B.Sc., M.Sc, Ph.D.

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262
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Publications

Publications (262)
Article
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Europe has suffered from waves of epidemics and plague since classical times, successive events leaving untold numbers of dead in their wake. The causes of such devastating outbreaks were unknown, but several theories were popular. Perhaps they were the manifestation of the wrath of God, the curse of the Devil, celestial changes, person-to-person t...
Article
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Margrave powder was an anti-epileptic compound popular during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Based on a fairly simple recipe which evolved only a little over the approximately 300 years of its use, the powder centred around nine main ingredients. Some of these seem to have been included because of their generally cordial properties (ivor...
Article
Westbury Garden Cliff has been a noted site for Rhaetian bone beds for over a century. It is known especially as a source of excellently preserved bones of the small marine reptile Pachystropheus as well as other reptiles, and fishes. Further it is the type locality of the Westbury Formation, the lower half of the British Rhaetian (Penarth Group)....
Article
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Wellcome MS 749-13, the text of which is transcribed here, contains over 100 medical receipts (recipes) copied by an unknown author from a manuscript written by Sir Walter Raleigh. Th e receipts cover a wide range of diseases and utilise herbal, zoological and geological simples as well as alchemically processed preparations (e.g. Laudanum Paracels...
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As part of the cataloguing and systematic revision of some historical collections containing Mesozoic ammonites, housed at the "Museo Geologico G.G. Gemmellaro" of the University of Palermo, one specimen, indicated as Lamna in the original catalogue, is newly attributed to the genus Sphenodus, an extinct neoselachian shark genus ranging from the Ea...
Article
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The history of 'Stag's tears' as an item of materia medica is traced here for the first time. The background to their use relied heavily on the legendary belief that a natural enmity existed between deer and snakes; stags fed on snakes and, as a consequence, shed tears which hardened into stone. Presented as a type of bezoar in medieval Arabic lite...
Article
The tooth-based fossil neoselachian shark genus Vallisia was raised by DUFFIN in 1982 for specimens from the Penarth Group (Late Triassic) of Somerset, south-west England. The name is preoccupied by an extant trematode worm, Vallisia PERUGIA & PARONA, 1890. Vallisia sensu DUFFIN is therefore a junior homonym requiring a replacement name. The name V...
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Phoebodont-like teeth originally described as Phoebodus brodiei and Phoebodus keuperinus from the Upper Triassic of England and Germany, respectively, are attributed to a new genus Keuperodus of the family Jalodontidae. The characteristic features of all jalodontid genera are re-examined leading to the conclusion that this group formed a separate,...
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Following apprenticeship to a barber-surgeon and service on the continent, John Woodall (1570-1643) joined the East India Company as its first Surgeon-General. He carried out his responsibilities to shipyard employees at Deptford and Blackwall both conscientiously and with considerable empathy. Woodall's The Surgion's Mate, first published in 1617...
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At the beginning of the Jurassic, the initial stages of the rifting that preceded the opening of the Alpine Tethys led to the establishment of the Lombardy basin, characterized by a shallow water marine palaeoenvironment inhabited by highly diversified ecological communities. Macrofossil records from the whole Lower Jurassic succession of Lombardy...
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The famous Rhaetian bone bed (Late Triassic, 205 Ma) is well known because it marks a major switch in depositional environment from terrestrial red beds to fully marine conditions throughout the UK and much of Europe. The bone bed is generally cemented and less than 10 cm thick. However, we report here an unusual case from Saltford, near Bath, S.W....
Article
We describe here new Late Triassic haramiyidan mammaliaform and reptile fossils from near the classic ‘Microlestes’ Quarry’ at Holwell, Somerset, U.K., where Charles Moore discovered a huge collection of microvertebrates in the 1850s. Moore’s discoveries included the haramiyid Thomasia (formerly ‘Microlestes’ and Microcleptes) for which he achieved...
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Two inconspicuous brown stones in the crown on the reliquary bust of Charlemagne held in the Treasury of Aachen Cathedral are set next to cameos, pearls, precious and semi-precious stones. Rather unusually, they are the button-shaped teeth of a Mesozoic fish called Scheenstia (Lepidotes) maximus (WAGNER, 1863). In the Middle Ages, the prevailing be...
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Review of “It All Depends on the Dose”. Poisons and Medicines in European History Edited by Ole Peter Grell, Andrew Cunningham and Jon Arrizabalaga, London, UK: Routledge, 2018. Pp. xiii + 244. Hardback, price £96.00. ISBN 9781138697614. eBook, Price £35.99 + VAT. ISBN 9781315521091.
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Coprolites from the Rhaetian bone beds in southwest England can be assigned to crustaceans and fishes. Here, we report crustacean microcoprolites, including Canalispalliatum and Favreina, the first records from the British Rhaetian, from Hampstead Farm Quarry near Bristol, evidence for diverse lobsters and their relatives not otherwise represented...
Poster
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The lithographic limestone succession in SW Germany includes the lagerstätten of Nusplingen and the Solnhofen areas. The holocephalian faunas from these two centres include isolated tooth plates and dorsal fin spines, as well as minimally disarticulated holomorphic specimens showing high fidelity preservation; members of both the Myriacanthiformes...
Poster
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This poster discusses spiral bromalites and the question of whether they are coprolites in the strictest sense (fully extruded faecal material) or enterospirae (fossilised intestines with spiral valves). It is concluded from the examples illustrated that both types probably exist.
Poster
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Ultraviolet Induced Fluorescence Digital Photography is a useful diagnostic tool for discovery, digital documentation, analysis and curation of palaeontological specimens.
Article
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The Gart der Gesundheit, the first herbal to be printed in German, straddles the medieval/early modern divide of medico-pharmaceutical literature. First published in 1485 by Peter Schöffer, a printing apprentice of Gutenberg's at Mainz, the text is believed to have been written by Frankfurt city physician Johann Wonnecke von Kaub at the behest of t...
Article
Terrestrial vertebrate trace fossils are relatively abundant in mid-to-late Triassic and early Jurassic deposits in the British Isles but to date none at all have been recorded from the Rhaetian, the final stage of the Triassic. This represents a persistent gap in the terrestrial ichnological record. We present the first Rhaetian track to be recogn...
Article
Formic acid treatment of bioclastic limestones, and the disaggregation of impersistent black marl samples using the kerosene and boiling water method has yielded a very rich microvertebrate fauna from the Early Carboniferous Eyam Limestone Formation (Peak Limestone Group, Carboniferous Limestone Supergroup) of Derbyshire (UK). Small numbers of vert...
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Consecrated earth or stone powder associated with churches dedicated to medieval saints, often of local signifi cance, has particular importance in certain areas of Belgium and the Netherlands. Sources of supply range from the walls and other parts of the fabric of the church and earth from pilgrimage sites, to specially blessed ordinary building s...
Article
The fin spine of a myriacanthid holocephalian from the Lower Toarcian (Early Jurassic) Posidonienschiefer of Ohmden, near Holzmaden, is described and, following comparison with other Mesozoic holocephalian dorsal fin spines, identified as Recurvacanthus uniserialis DUFFIN 1981. This is the first record of Recurvacanthus from the German Posidoniensc...
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The entries for the various stones in the Hortus Sanitatis are characteristically accompanied by a woodcut, which may illustrate a feature of the specimen, its means of collection or use. This is followed by a section, which often gives some idea of the different names by which the material might be known, how it might be identified, where it can b...
Article
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One of the most dramatic environmental changes in the Mesozoic history of Europe was the switch from terrestrial to marine deposition marked by the Rhaetian Transgression, 205 Ma. Beginning with this event, the Mendip Hills, composed primarily of uplifted and folded Lower Carboniferous limestones, were flooded in a stepwise manner from the Late Tri...
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A rock sample obtained from the Caliza Masiva of the San Emiliano Formation (Bashkirian–early Moscovian) in the Mina Profunda area (NE Villamanín) of the Bodón Nappe (Cantabrian Zone, NW Spain) has yielded numerous brachiopods and fish remains not frequently represented in the fossil record. The brachiopod assemblage comprises 13 taxa and is charac...
Book
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Very little has been written on the unique historical medical heritage of the National Palace of Mafra in Portugal, which celebrated its new status as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2019. This book brings together a set of innovative studies which begins to consider the importance of this unique collection of medical texts and items of medical mat...
Chapter
The historical medicinal uses of quartz or rock crystal, often referred to as crystallus in the literature, is examined here for the first time. Revered since classical times as a means of promoting lactation in nursing mothers and wet nurses, powdered rock crystal was also used in medical receipts designed to prevent miscarriage, counteract a vari...
Chapter
In his Serpentum et draconum historiae (1640), a first edition of which is held in the Library of the Palace of Mafra, Ulisse Aldrovandi (1522-1605) selectively recounted ancient and contemporary beliefs concerning the dragonstone–a fabulous jewel said to naturally occur in the head of a dragon. The mythology of the dragonstone can be traced to wor...
Article
The Lisbon medical box ascribed to Sir Walter Raleigh (Double Tressure 42, pp. 36-48) bears a metal plaque fastened to the inside of the lid and displays a distinctive armorial whose details were crucial in determining provenance. The top left quarter on the escutcheon displays the shield of the Raleigh family and comprises five fusils (elongated l...
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Ilminster-born Charles Moore (1815-1881) was an indefatigable West Country geologist who made significant and wide-ranging contributions to the science, both in terms of the material he collected and his publications. Following his permanent move to Bath in 1853, Moore collected extensively in Late Triassic rocks, amassing a rich haul of fossil ver...
Chapter
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The frontispieces of the Gart der Gesundheit (1485) and the Pharmacopée royale galénique et chymyque (1676) illustrate the changes taking place in pharmacy over that time period: increasingly rapid distribution of information as printing technology and efficiency developed, changes to the philosophical underpinnings of the science, reduced reliance...
Article
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Ichthyocolla is a collagen-rich medicinal simple, originally derived from many parts of the parent fi sh, but more commonly restricted to Acipenseriform swim bladders imported from Russia in early modern times. Used to treat headache, tetanus and leprosy in classical times, the medieval Arabic tradition saw it utilised against haemorrhoids. Th e co...
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After providing a very useful overview of its place in the rather limited range of available Old English medical texts, she considers potential candidates for authorship of the volume, the unique elements of its structure , problems associated with its translation, and the contemporary intellectual environment of its composition. Taking the reader...
Conference Paper
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Observations on two specimens of Elasmodectes from Morocco and Germany.
Poster
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Observations on two specimens of Elasmodectes from the late Cretaceous of Morocco and late Jurassic of Germany.
Article
Ashdown Brickworks, near Bexhill, East Sussex, has produced a large number of vertebrate fossils from the Wadhurst Clay Formation, part of the Wealden Supergroup (Hastings Group; Valanginian; Lower Cretaceous). Here we describe the microvertebrate fauna of the ‘conglomerate bed’, representing a rich sample of taxa. While most of the recovered teeth...
Article
A small sample of selachian teeth is described from a glauconitic nodule from the Ladder Chine Member, Ferruginous Sands Formation, Lower Greensand Group, late Aptian, Early Cretaceous found near Walpen Chine on the Isle of Wight, UK. The selachian fauna contains the root of an unidentified lamniform shark, and some associated teeth of a synechodon...
Chapter
Full-text available
The frontispieces of the Gart der Gesundheit (1485) and the Pharmacopée royale galénique et chymyque (1676) illustrate the changes taking place in pharmacy over that time period: increasingly rapid distribution of information as printing technology and efficiency developed, changes to the philosophical underpinnings of the science, reduced reliance...
Thesis
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supported my consuming interest in the subject investigated in these pages. Abstract Mineral materials include rocks, minerals, fossils, earths, mineraloids, biogenic skeletal remains and synthetic stones. Each of these classes of material has enjoyed much popularity as supposedly therapeutic medicinal ingredients in the history of pharmacy; many h...
Article
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Joseph Clutton (c.1695-1743) was a Georgian apothecary and businessman who produced the Oglander materia medica cabinet. A committed Quaker, he ventured into print on two occasions. Th e fi rst (1729) concerned a proprietary febrifugal tincture. The second (1736) examined the infamous antimonial ‘Pill and Drop’ promoted by the quack Joshua Ward (16...
Conference Paper
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AN ASSOCIATED DENTITION OF AGASSIZODUS (CHONDRICHTHYES, EUGENEODONTIFORMES) FROM THE UPPER CARBONIFEROUS OF MISSOURI DUFFIN, Christopher, Surrey, England; WARD, David J., Orpington, United Kingdom; LAUER, Bruce H., Wheaton, IL, United States of America; LAUER, Rene L., Wheaton, IL, United States of America The Lauer Foundation for Paleontology, Sc...
Conference Paper
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Chimaeropsis paradoxa is a myriacanthoid chimaeriform fish (family Chimaeropsidae) from the Late Jurassic Plattenkalk of Eichstätt in Bavaria, described from a single specimen by Karl Alfred von Zittel in 1887. The material was never adequately figured, and the unique holotype was destroyed in World War II. A holomorphic specimen of the fish, sligh...
Article
Two partial, mildly disarticulated specimens of a callorhynchid chimaeroid are described from the Upper Kimmeridgian Nusplingen Plattenkalk (Beckeri Zone, Ulmense Subzone). Details of the dentition and neurocranium clearly distinguish the specimens from the Plattenkalk ‘rhinochimaerid’ Elasmodectes avitus (V. MEYER), and preclude it from being a ju...
Article
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The famous Aust Cliff section, on the east bank of the River Severn, S.W. England, includes one of the first documented successions through the Rhaetian stage (latest Triassic) and a classic Triassic-Jurassic boundary section, and, historically, the first ever mention and description of the Rhaetian bone bed, dating back to the 1820s. The larger fo...
Article
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Rhaetian bone beds have been described from many locations in south-west England, around Bristol. One site that has never been reported is Stowey Quarry, some 13 km south of Bristol. This quarry yielded Lias, and revealed thin Rhaetian units in the quarry floor, including two bone beds, the basal Rhaetian bone bed, and a second, higher bone bed, al...
Chapter
Ambitious in both scope and achievement, Hill’s geological works are replete with original observations from specimens in his own collection. He was anxious to make a significant contribution to the science but was born too soon to capitalise on advances in other areas of science. Nevertheless, he pioneered the use of both the blowpipe and the micr...
Article
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The tusks of the Wild Boar (Sus scrofa) are Galenical simples of rather minor importance, often forming part of the zoological component of materia medica cabinets and collections from the early eighteenth century. Imported into Britain from Germany, they were rendered into a powder and combined with additional ingredients in relatively uncomplicat...
Article
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A new myriacanthid holocephalian is described from the Hasle Formation (probably the Uptonia jamesoni subzone to the Acanthopleuroceras valdani subzone, Early Pliensbachian, Early Jurassic) of Bornholm, Denmark, on the basis of isolated upper posterior (palatine) and lower posterior (man-dibular) tooth plates. Oblidens bornholmensis gen. et sp. nov...
Article
The Late Triassic vertebrate assemblages from Hallau, Switzerland, have been collected since 1915 and include sharks, bony fish (actinopterygians and lungfish), amphibians and archosauriformes (a phytosaur and the dinosaur Plateosaurus). Many of the microtetrapods, including the haramyid and morganucodontid mammaliamorphs, are well known but the le...
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The very small teeth of a new petalodont chondrichthyan are described from the Lower Carboniferous Eyam Limestone Formation (Peak Limestone Group, Carboniferous Limestone Supergroup; Brigantian, Early Carboniferous) of Derbyshire. Cypripediodens cristatus gen. et sp. nov. belongs to the Family Janassidae on the basis of the angle formed between the...
Book
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The development of the geological and medical sciences shows overlap through numerous historical threads, some of which are investigated here by an international authorship of geologists, historians and medical professionals. Some of the medical men considered here are the relatively well known Steno, Parkinson, William Hunter and Peter Duncan, as...
Article
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The isolated teeth of a new euselachian shark Artiodus prominens Ivanov and Duffin gen. et sp. nov. have been found in the Artinskian Stage (Early Permian) of Krasnoufimskie Klyuchiki quarry (Sverdlovsk Region, Middle Urals, Russia). The teeth of Artiodus possess a multicuspid orthodont crown with from four to nine triangular cusps; prominent labia...
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Sir Walter Raleigh, the Tudor explorer and adventurer, was arrested for treason by James I following the death of Queen Elizabeth I in 1603. A stay of execution was granted and he was sent to the Tower of London. There he was able to undertake scientifi c investigations. He owned a small medicine chest, and this may have been with him in the Tower....