My name is Mike Taylor, and I am a Christian and a palaeontologist.
I was brought up in a family that was agnostic shading towards atheist, but became a Christian at the age of 16 — in 1984, which now feels a terribly long time ago. Since then I’ve had all sorts of roles in various churches, including leading small groups and group clusters, and being involved in a church plant. My wife, our three sons and I are now regular attenders at the Forest of Dean Community Church, in Cinderford, Gloucestershire, where I lead worship once a month and preach a few times a year.
In 2001, my childhood love of dinosaurs reawakened, and I began to take a serious interest in the science of palaeontology. I started reading academic papers, and then writing them. In 2004 I signed up with the University of Portsmouth to do a part-time Ph.D in palaeo, which I finished in 2009. (You can buy a copy of my dissertation for £12 if you’re interested.) Since graduating, I’ve been an honorary research associate, first at UCL and now in the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Bristol.
I’ve accumulated a reasonable set of scientific papers along the way, most of them in international journals, and I’ve given talks at various conferences. My work is mostly about sauropods — the biggest and heaviest of all dinosaurs — though some of it wanders into related topics such as changes in dinosaur diversity through time, the history of sauropod science, and zoological taxonomy. I remain an active researcher.
My best known palaeo works are probably the papers that named two new dinosaurs: Xenoposeidon (“alien earthquake god”) in 2007, and Brontomerus (“thunder thighs”) in 2011. Both of them got a fair bit of attention in the media. If you’re of a technical bent, you can read the papers themselves here and here.
My involvement in the academic world has given me a platform to influence another subject that I care deeply about: open access to publicly funded research. Most research is currently donated to for-profit publishers and locked behind paywalls — a terrible situation as there are many more applications for research papers than most people realise. I’ve written extensively about this issue in the Guardian, in Times Higher Education, and elsewhere.
For more on my understanding of both Christianity and palaeontology, see the What I Believe page.