Skip Navigation or Skip to Content
This exhibition has now closed.


Until recently no fossil evidence had been found to explain how vertebrate life stepped from water to land, leading to a gap in our scientific knowledge of evolution. Known as Romer’s Gap, this mystery has been challenging palaeontologists for generations. However, after years of searching, the answers have begun to be unearthed.

In 2008, palaeontologist Stan Wood uncovered a number of fossils which began to reveal this key chapter in the history of evolution, including a notable amphibian specimen nicknamed ‘Ribbo’. Spurred on by these finds, researchers from National Museums Scotland and institutions around the country have been working together to uncover more examples in Scotland.

Fossil of 'ribbo' in two parts

Above: Fossil of Ribbo collected from a site in the Whiteadder Water.

Finds featured in the exhibition, including tetrapods (four-legged land vertebrates), fish, plants and land invertebrates, some of which were found as recently as summer 2015, offer unique insights into an ecosystem that existed millions of years ago.

Fossil Hunters introduced the people who uncovered these remarkable finds, discover the scientific techniques used to extract and identify them, and glimpse what life was like before the dinosaurs.

River Whiteadder dig

Above: Excavation site on the Whiteadder Water.

Research behind this exhibition was conducted in partnership with the Universities of Cambridge, Southampton and Leicester as well as the British Geological Survey.

Inside the exhibition

Supported by

Nerc Logo Large  Heritage Lottery Fund (1)

Header image: Illustration of tetrapods on land © Mark Witton.


Fossil Hunters blog posts

Join our team of scientists as they investigate the mystery of life on land.

Closing Romer's Gap: The story so far

If the first four-legged animals had never emerged from water onto land, our world today would not exist. Yet how did this great step happen? The mystery is finally being solved – and fossils discovered in Scotland lie at the heart of the story.

The TWeed project: Evolution’s Missing Chapter

National Museums Scotland houses a world-class collection of Palaeozoic fishes and early tetrapods (animals with four limbs) and for many years this has been the focus of a number of major research programmes by scientists around the world.
Exhibition information


19 Feb - 14 Aug 2016


Exhibition Gallery 2, Level 3

How much


Back to top