The Young Palaeontologists at Kensington Primary School

Year 4 Pupils at School Demonstrate their Knowledge of Dinosaurs

Yesterday, one of Everything Dinosaur’s team members visited Year 4 pupils at Kensington Primary school as part of the school’s teaching topic which has focused on dinosaurs.  The budding young palaeontologists were keen to show off their special dinosaur hats that they had made under the supervision of their teacher’s Miss Rafique and Miss Vavrykovych.  The visit from Everything Dinosaur helped reinforce learning outcomes that had been covered during an earlier trip to the Natural History Museum, the classroom walls displayed the various stories and pictures that the children had created. There were even some dinosaur scenes on display that the children had made, surrounded by all these dinosaurs, we were certainly made to feel at home.

Three brave pupils in Miss Rafique’s class got the chance to cast a museum quality replica of a Tyrannosaur manual ungual (finger claw most likely from a large, Late Cretaceous meat-eater known as Albertosaurus sarcophagus).  This would make an interesting addition to the classroom’s colourful dinosaur display, after all, not many school children get to see and handle dinosaur claws.

Some of the Colourful Artwork on Display Outside the Classrooms

Are Dinosaurs Really Extinct?

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur/Kensington Primary School

As part of Everything Dinosaur’s commitment to the Earth Sciences we wanted to give the children an insight into some real palaeontology puzzles and problems. For example, one class looked briefly at the horned dinosaur Triceratops and why very few fossilised forelimbs seem to have been preserved in the fossil record, whilst the second class looked at Spinosaurus and what the fossils tell us about huge meat-eating dinosaurs.

Building on this theme, with the assistance of Miss Rafique and the teaching assistant, Mrs Pate,l we explored how the Sauropod (long-necked dinosaur), Brontomerus got its name.  Having examined some of the evidence, the pupils were given the chance to name their very own Sauropod.

 Naming a Dinosaur – Different Sauropod Types

Thinking of a name for a Long-Necked Dinosaur

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Based on the fossil evidence provided, the school children came up with a variety of amazing names for a herbivorous dinosaur whose long neck enabled it to reach high into trees to feed.

Some of the names the children thought of:

Branchosaurus, Altisaurus, Reachosaurus, Antelopeohsaurus and Dinnerosaurus.

When classifying newly discovered dinosaurs, if you are given the job of describing the animal then you get to name it, so perhaps these young palaeontologists may inspire some amazing dinosaur names.

Close up of the Pterosaur (Flying Reptile) in the Artwork

Interesting use of drawing pins

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur/Kensington Primary School

On the very colourful dinosaur artwork that was on show outside Year 4′s classroom, we noticed a novel use of drawing pins.  The pictures had been pinned to the backdrop, but also a drawing pin had been used to make the eye of the Pterosaur (flying reptile).  Drawing pins had also been used to make a dramatic, gold necklace-like marking on the neck of the creature.  We thought this was a lovely and very creative touch.  Perhaps if scientists were to discover a flying reptile fossil with distinctive markings on the cervical vertebrae (neck bones) they could call in “Machorhynchus” as the drawing pins reminded us of a chest medallion.

It was a pleasure to visit the school and to meet all the enthusiastic pupils, perhaps some of the children will go on to have a career in the Earth sciences.

New York City Department of Education Discourages the Word “Dinosaur”

“Dinosaur” One of a Number of Words Restricted by New York City Dept. of Education

Companies preparing to submit assessment tests used in New York city’s public schools have been issued with guidelines from the Department of Education suggesting that they stay clear of dinosaurs when compiling their papers.  The word dinosaur is just one of a number of words and topics that the department have advised organisations preparing the assessment papers to avoid – other terms and subject areas that the compilers have been asked to steer away from include birthdays, aliens, vermin, terrorism and junk food.

“Dinosaurs” out of New York’s Assessment Papers

Dinosaurs off the agenda in New York City

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur/xhc

Under these new guidelines, writing the assessment papers may prove to be as tricky at actually taking them.  These tests are used to assess the progress students are making in a number of subject areas including science, but in a move that seems to take political correctness to the extreme, a number of topic areas have been deemed off limits.

Whilst creating the test questions, companies are being advised to steer clear from certain subject areas, words and topics as they “could evoke unpleasant emotions in students that might hamper their ability to take the remainder of the test in the optimal frame of mind.”

Other reasons stated by the Department of Education for wanting to avoid such words as “dinosaur” include a desire to prevent bias against or towards certain parts of the population, or because “the topic has been done to death” – in textbooks and previous tests thus becoming over familiar and even boring to the students.

The word Halloween is not recommended because it could be linked with pagan rites, dinosaurs are on the extinction list for terms with the department, presumably as any reference to these prehistoric animals could upset those parts of the population who don’t believe or except the principles of evolution.  Firms have until the third week of April to submit their assessment plans and proposals.

A spokesperson for the Department of Education commented that the list suggests topics that ought to be avoided and this was not an outright ban and such language and guidance had been included in proposal requests for some time.

Spokeswoman Deidrea Miller said in a statement:

“This is standard language that has been used by test publishers for many years and is meant to ensure that tests contain no possible bias or distractions for students.”

With the American Museum of Natural History in the city and with its amazing display of dinosaurs and other prehistoric animal fossils, we at Everything Dinosaur would have thought that this museum would have provided tremendous support for the city’s students, teachers and educationalists.

A spokesperson for Everything Dinosaur commented:

“It is important that this news story is put into the proper context.  Whilst we can accept the difficult path that the Department has to follow at times, advising the removal of dinosaurs from the assessment papers does sound a little excessive.”

He went onto add:

“With such a fantastic and wonderful educational resource [the American Museum of Natural History] in New York, it seems such a shame that educational companies are being recommended not to use dinosaur related test questions.  After all, if you want to inspire the next generation of scientists, motivate children to learn more about the world around them or to give young people an insight into how the world is changing, dinosaurs would be a tremendously helpful subject area to explore.”

Commentating on the use of a restricted list in the city, New York University education professor Diane Ravitch said that such policies are not confined to America’s largest city.

She stated:

“This is something that testing companies have been doing for a long time”.

Professor Ravitch said the list of subjects to avoid comes from topics someone somewhere around the country, not necessarily in New York, may have objected to.

She added:

“Nobody in New York City is likely to object to any of these things.”

The guidelines issued by the Department of Education also covers other areas related to the testing of students such as how long test passages should be and what tenses should be used.  The guidelines also suggest that the subject material should be “familiar and common to the lives of New York city students.”

Papo Standing Tyrannosaurus rex (Green versus Brown – the Differences)

Outlining some of the Differences between the Two Papo Models

Team members at Everything Dinosaur were informed some time ago that the Papo green T. rex replica, part of the French manufacturer’s “Dinosaures” range would be replaced in what was termed a “running change”, the replacement would be a re-paint of the original model.  The new replica would be coloured brown.  No other changes to the figure were expected, but as these new brown coloured models have started to enter circulation, a number of keen eyed collectors and dinosaur fans have identified some differences between these two models.

The Papo T. rex was one of the first dinosaur models introduced by the new management team at Papo (product code 55001), it is one of the company’s most popular replicas and it has been nick-named by several Everything Dinosaur staff as the “JP rex”, due to this model’s resemblance to the Tyrannosaurus rex seen in the first two films of the Jurassic Park trilogy.  It seems that the 2012 version (we call it simply the “brown T. rex“), has a different head.

Green T. rex and the Brown T. rex (spot the difference)

Spot the differences?

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

We are grateful to all the collectors and model enthusiasts who have contacted us with information about these two models, in the picture below we highlight some of the differences between these two dinosaur models.

Papo Green and Papo Brown T. rex Models Compared

Outlining some of the differences between the models

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The eye of the brown T. rex (orbit) shows some subtle differences, it is more rounded in the new model when compared to the green T. rex, the eye socket is also reduced in size.  The sclera (yellow area of the eye) and the actual pupil are much smaller when compared to the older T. rex version.

Both models retain the articulated jaw but the teeth (dentition) in the new version are different, whilst not conforming exactly to the premaxilla, maxilla, dentary arrangement seen in Tyrannosaurus rex skeletons the new model does have slightly better moulded teeth which are less peg-like.

The lower jaw of the new, brown version of T. rex is leaner.  The bulk of the lower jaw seen in the older model is not there any more and as a result the lower jaw looks thinner.

In addition, the prominent ridge of bone around the squamosal at the back of the skull looks less angular in the new version of  T. rex.

Both models are good, well-crafted and immaculately painted, it is interesting to note these changes and we suspect there are one or two more subtle differences that we may have missed.

To view the range of Papo models: Papo Dinosaurs

A Review of the 1:40 Neovenator Dinosaur Model from Collecta

“New Hunter” Dinosaur Model from Collecta – A Review

It is always a pleasure to see a new scale model of a meat-eating dinosaur introduced into the Collecta dinosaur model range and it is a treat to see a British prehistoric animal featured.  That is exactly what has happened with the launch of the Collecta 1:40 scale replica of Neovenator (New Hunter).

Known from a seventy percent complete skeleton excavated from a secret location on the Isle of Wight, (southern England) Neovenator is described as a basal member of the Carcharodontidae, although that is disputed by a number of scientists.  Although the holotype material is very complete, especially for a European, meat-eating dinosaur; as normally the fossilised bones of these Theropods are extremely rare, the taxonomic picture is somewhat confused by the amount of potential Neovenator fossil material from the Wealden succession from the English mainland ascribed to Megalosaurus.

The 1:40 Scale Model of Neovenator (Collecta Dinosaurs)

Collecta Scale Model of Neovenator

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

It certainly was an apex predator, stalking herds of Iguanodons and Hypsilophodons amongst the horsetail beds and seed ferns of what was a flood plain, criss-crossed by meandering rivers in the Early Cretaceous of western Europe.  Estimated to have reached lengths in excess of eight metres and weighing more than 1.5 Tonnes, Neovenator was a formidable predator.

It probably had an “S-shaped” neck which supported a long, snout and jaws lined with sharp, re-curved teeth.  The lower jaw was quite delicate, whilst the muzzle was relatively large and robust.  The naris (nostrils) were particularly large and this suggests that this dinosaur had an acute sense of smell, perhaps it used this sense to “sniff” out potential prey amongst the dense vegetation of its lowland, flood plain home.  Relatively lightly built for its size, more than half the length of this animal is made up of a long muscular tail, it is thought that Neovenator may have been a speedy runner, perhaps hunting in packs to ambush and bring down slower moving large prey animals such as Iguanodonts or even Sauropods.  No actual arm bones or bones from the hand have been ascribed to this genus.  It is most likely that this meat-eating dinosaur had relatively short arms which ended in three-fingered hands, with each figure armed with a sharp claw.  Some interpretations of Neovenator give this dinosaur slightly larger forelimbs than seen in other replicas of dinosaurs that were in the clade Allosauridae.

To view Everything Dinosaur’s range of dinosaur models: Dinosaur Toys for Boys and Girls

The Collecta Neovenator model is well balanced and depicts Neovenator as a lightly built predator with relatively long forelimbs and a long tail.  The model is painted a light tan on the flanks, intertwined with darker strips down the back and the along the length of the tail.  In common with many models in the Collecta range this replica depicts Neovenator with its mouth open, perhaps it is just about to roar or attack an unsuspecting Ornithopod.

The three-fingered hands are a little over-sized in relation to other 1:40 scale replicas in this series, we shall have to wait for more fossil discoveries before the accuracy of this aspect of the model can be determined.  The fingers on each hand are rather splayed out in a slightly unrealistic pose, but at least this gives the model makers the opportunity to show the enlarged second finger, an attribute of most members of the Allosauridae.

Measuring a little over twenty-seven centimetres in length and with a head height of eleven centimetres, we would estimate the scale to be approximately 1:35 (in comparison with the known fossil material).

This is an excellent model of a British meat-eating dinosaur, the figure even comes with a plastic  model of a palaeontologist so that the scale of the dinosaur can be appreciated.

Helping to find “Mr Dinosaur” for a Young Dinosaur Fan

Cute Feedback from Everything Dinosaur Customer

We received this comment from a customer, sent to us on one of our customer feedback forms.  We really appreciate the comments about “great communication, packaging and delivery” which was on the front of the form but the lady who sent us in the feedback had written on the back of the form, explaining why she had purchased a dinosaur soft toy from Everything Dinosaur.

Customer Feedback Form

Finding a replacement “Mr Dinosaur”

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur/Plaxton

The feedback comment says:

“Saturday March 17th, we visited London and the Natural History Museum.  My 3-year-old chose this dinosaur as his momento and then promptly left it behind on the tube!  After trawling the net on Sunday (including the museum’s online shop), no-one stocked the exact lost dinosaur.  By Thursday 21st March, thanks to you I have a very happy 3-year-old little boy fast asleep with “Mr Dinosaur”!  Thank you!

We added our logo to the customer feedback and a picture of “Mr Dinosaur”, a Diplodocus soft toy.  Glad team members at Everything Dinosaur were able to come to the rescue.

To view our range of dinosaur soft toys: Dinosaur Soft Toys

We get a lot of feedback from our customers, whether it is in the form of the official feedback forms such as this, or indeed comments on this blog or on our face book page – we read everyone and respond in person to all those that require a reply.  It is always a pleasure to hear from our customers.

Putting Dinosaurs to Bed – New Dinosaur Duvets

Dinosaur Duvets from Everything Dinosaur

Back by popular demand dinosaur themed single duvets complete with a matching pillowcase.  This dinosaur design features a number of colourful dinosaurs shown in silhouette - are you able work out what they are?

See the bottom of our article for Everything Dinosaur’s interpretation of the animals featured on this item from the company’s dinosaur themed bedroom accessories.

Dinosaur Duvets – Great for Budding Young Palaeontologists

Cuddle up in a Dinosaur Duvet

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

British made, a 50% cotton and 50% polyester super comfy dinosaur duvet set ideal for a single bed.  Comes complete with matching pillowcase.

To view Everything Dinosaur’s bedroom range log onto: Everything Dinosaur

The duvet measures 200 centimetres by 140 centimetres approximately and it makes a super addition to a dinosaur themed bedroom.  Young palaeontologists can cuddle up in their very own dinosaur themed duvet and dream of exciting dinosaur adventures.

Everything Dinosaur’s Dinosaur Silhouette Interpretations

After a bit of discussion we have settled on T. rex, Apatosaurus, Stegosaurus or Tuojiangosaurus (armoured dinosaur) and the Ornithopod Tenontosaurus or possibly another member of the Hypsilophodontidae.  We certainly had a bit of a debate as to what prehistoric animals featured on the duvet and pillow set – which dinosaurs do you think they are?

Earliest Evidence of Viviparity from South America

Scientists Report Discoveries that Suggest Live Birth as Early as 280 Million Years Ago

Newly discovered fossils from Uruguay and Brazil may hold the key to resolving one of the great scientific debates associated with the early conquest of the land by vertebrates.  The fossils are embryos (unhatched young) of semi-aquatic reptiles known as Mesosaurs and a specimen of a pregnant female.  They may be the oldest examples of live birth in Tetrapods, an important step towards adapting to a much more terrestrial based life.

Tetrapods include amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals but there is an important distinction between amphibians and the other types of vertebrates that make up this group.  Amphibians breed in water.  Animals such as frogs, salamanders and newts lay unprotected eggs which are externally fertilised.  In contrast, reptiles, birds and mammals use internal fertilisation.  In reptiles and birds, the embryo develops in fluid surrounded by a protective, calcium based shell – an adaptation to a more terrestrial lifestyle, without the need to be close to a source of water for breeding.  In nearly all extant mammals (monotremes are the exception – echidna, platypus etc.), the developing young is surrounded by fluid and a protective membrane, but it is retained inside the mother’s body for some time before birth.  The presence of a protective membrane, known as the amnion, around the embryo allows the further classification of Tetrapods into two distinct groups, amphibians in one group with the rest of the vertebrates in another – the Amniotes.

Amniotes are more independent of water than amphibians, but fossil evidence of this important evolutionary step has been very difficult to find – until now that is.  Early Tetrapod fossils do not preserve evidence of reproductive habits, but in a paper published by palaeontologists studying at the University of the Republic (Uruguay), they report on the discovery of fossils that show that Mesosaurs may have been capable of live birth, thus marking an important advance in Tetrapod evolution.

The research team have studied two beautifully preserved fossils dating from the Cisuralian epoch of the Permian (280 million-years-ago). The fossils represent amniotic embryos and are the earliest found to date.  The embryos are young Mesosaurs, semi-aquatic, primitive reptiles that are descended from terrestrial animals but returned to a marine environment.

The fossils are very small, the largest no bigger than a man’s thumb nail they were unearthed in Brazil and Uruguay.  Excavated from a gypsum laden matrix it suggests that these reptiles lived in salty, anaerobic water, which helped to preserve the embryos.  The Mesosaurs lived alongside a wide range of invertebrates such as burrowing worms and crustaceans as fossils of these creatures have been found too.

Evidence of Viviparity in Mesosaurs

Composite Fossil Showing Adult and Embryo

Picture Credit:  Graciela Piñeiro

The picture above is a composite with a partial skeleton of an adult Mesosaur on the right compared to the embryo fossil on the left (scale bar 20cm).

Researcher Graciela Piñeiro, a palaeontologist at the University of the Republic (Uruguay) commented:

“Despite their age and their delicate nature, they remained in the rocks all that long time almost perfectly preserved.

Intriguingly, the embryos lacked recognisable eggshells.  Moreover, one well-developed embryo was found within an adult presumed to be a pregnant female.  This suggests that these reptiles had evolved the ability to give birth to live young a strategy adopted by other later marine reptiles such as Ichthyosaurs and seen in some extant members of the Order Squamata today like vipers.  The fossil indicates that Mesosaurs may have been viviparous.

Interpreting the Mesosaur Fossil Evidence

Evidence of Viviparity in Permian Reptiles

Picture Credit: Graciela Piñeiro (photograph left), Inés Castiglioni (drawing right)

One of the well-developed Mesosaur embryos was discovered on its own, not inside an adult.  This might indicate that the Mesosaurs laid eggs after embryos reached advanced stages of development. Alternatively, this specimen could represent a miscarried embryo.

Graciela went onto add:

With the discovery of the Mesosaur embryos, we may now have direct evidence that embryo retention or viviparity were strategies developed by early amniotes.”

This is not the first earliest fossil evidence indicating viviparity in the fossil record, an amazing fossil of a Placoderm (armoured fish) was discovered a couple of years ago that suggested that at least some of the Placoderms may have evolved this reproductive strategy.

To read an article on the Placoderm fossil find: Placoderm Parents

However, this is the earliest case known for a Tetrapod.  In 2011, a fossil of a Plesiosaur from the genus Polycotylus (marine reptile) that had been found many years earlier in Kansas was analysed and it revealed that these types of marine reptile may also have been viviparous.

To read more about this research: Insight into Plesiosaur Breeding

This study of Mesosaurs pushes back the known records of live birth and amniotic embryos by sixty and ninety million years respectively.  The paper on this Mesosaur research has been published in the scientific journal “Historical Biology”.

Crocodile Attacks

Saltwater Crocodiles Stalk Australian Fisherman and American Crocodile Grabs Pet

This week there have been a number of news stories about crocodiles, the majority focusing on what crocodiles do best, ambushing prey.  In Australia, a local fisherman was stalked by large Saltwater crocodiles for three days as flood waters encircled his remote fishing lodge, whilst in America a rare American crocodile attacked and killed a large, pet dog.

Unfortunately, crocodile attacks are a relatively common occurrence as tourists and fishermen venture into crocodile habitats.  The increasing number of Saltwater (Crocodylus porosus), otherwise known as Estuarine Crocodiles in northern Australia has led to a number of reports of attacks by these huge, reptilian predators.

Attacks in Florida by the American Crocodile (Crocodylus acutus) are much less frequent than attacks by the more common and generally thought to be the more aggressive American Alligator, but for one Sunshine State couple such an attack led to the loss of their pet dog – Roxie.

When Janet and Larry Porath and their visiting family returned to their Key Largo home from a late lunch out, they heard a splash as they relaxed in their waterfront  facing backyard.  It was the splash caused by a crocodile attack, ambushing their pet dog and dragging her into the water.

According to the witnesses, the crocodile leaped at least four feet out of the water to snatch the 65-pound mixed breed dog head-first off the seawall.  The crocodile, estimated to be around 4 metres in length, was seen by neighbours swimming a few feet from the Poraths’ house.  Roxie was in its mouth.

Neighbours Spotted the Crocodile with the Dog in its Mouth

The Crocodile Spotted Swimming Away with the Dog in its Mouth

Picture Credit: Florida Keys Reporter

The poor dog never stood a chance and after the fatal encounter the Porath’s accompanied by friends and neighbours set out to find the crocodile and to retrieve the body of their family pet.
Meanwhile, over in Australia a fisherman had a billiard table to thank for keeping him safe from a potential crocodile attack.  Sixty-five year-old Terry Donovan was relaxing at a remote fishing cabin at the Staaten River Fishing and Wilderness Lodge in northern Queensland when he became cut off by rising flood waters.
The Fearsome Saltwater Crocodile

Three day ordeal of local fisherman

Picture Credit: Associated Press
As the waters rose, he spotted a number of large crocodiles lurking in the water, one of which attacked a sheltering wallaby on the back deck of the fishing hut.
A shaken Mr Donovan said that he was afraid that the flood waters would permit one of the large four-metre-long crocs to swim into the hut and attack him.
Commenting on his three-day ordeal, Terry stated:

“The first one I saw was sitting out the back on the veranda in about a foot of water, maybe a bit more.  I thought to myself, ‘Well, there’s a warning, there’s a crocodile there.  Where there’s one, there’s probably two or three or more’.”

Donovan said a second crocodile placed itself underneath the house, after he spotted it through a window.  Becoming very concerned for his own safety Mr Donovan sort refuge on top of a billiard table, the highest place that he could find.

With some supplies packed around him, Mr Donovan watched the water level rise inch by inch.

He said:

“The water just kept going up and up and up, and it was just an inch or so above the nets where the balls are collected by the billiard table, and I thought, ‘Well, the next step is the roof, I’m out of here’.”

The plucky fisherman was rescued from his three day stand off when he was eventually spotted by a passing helicopter which had gone to check on him after he failed to answer his satellite phone.  Officials then alerted a local fishermen who set out to rescue him.  Had the water level risen any higher, Mr Donovan is certain that the crocodiles would have attacked.

It has been reported that Saltwater crocodiles kill on average two people per year.

A Review of the Collecta Hypsilophodon Family Model

Hypsilophodon Model Reviewed

Hypsilophodon models are like buses, dinosaur model fans wait for ages for one to come along and then a model is launched that features four of these dinosaurs at once.  The new Hypsilophodon dinosaur model from Collecta features a group of these small, agile dinosaurs – a family group gathered around a tree fern feeding.  As far as we know, there is no official collective noun for a group of Hypsilophodonts, here we shall use the term “flock”.  The flock consists of two larger animals probably adults and two smaller juveniles, all the models have been mounted on a small base, painted a sandy colour with flecks of green to present other types of Cretaceous vegetation.

One of the adults, is perched on a fallen log, perhaps in recognition of early 20th Century pictures of this dinosaur which depicted Hypsilophodon as a tree-dwelling reptile.  Early reconstructions of this dinosaur, based on fossil material discovered on the Isle of Wight, showed Hypsilophodon to have grasping hands and feet.  Scientists thought these were adaptations to tree climbing and for many years, it was thought that this dinosaur was arboreal, a sort of prehistoric tree kangaroo.  This theory has largely fallen out of favour and Hypsilophodonts are thought to be facultative bipeds that were highly cursorial and capable of startling bursts of speed.

The Collecta Hypsilophodon Family Group (Collecta Dinosaurs)

Collecta Hypsilophodon family group

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

 Describing the size and the scale of this excellent replica, designer Anthony Beeson commented:

 ”The Hypsilophodon group is about 1.50 inches high to the top of the new fern growth.  The figures themselves are around an inch in height for the adults but much smaller for the immature animals.   I wanted them to look in scale with the standard [Collecta] models.”

To view Everything Dinosaur’s dinosaur models: Dinosaur Models for Boys and Girls

One of the problems encountered when creating replicas of small, bipedal dinosaurs is how to make the models stable.  Collecta have cleverly overcome this problem by designing a dinosaur model replica on a base, providing a stable and secure platform, permitting the dinosaurs to be show in a natural, life-like pose.

The model measures approximately ten centimetres in width and it has been very well painted.  The adults and juveniles are depicted as agile dinosaurs with a light gray, scaly coat flecked with black dots, excellent camouflage as these creatures foraged in the undergrowth of Early Cretaceous forests.  The discovery of many fossils of this dinosaur in a single bone bed formation – known as the Hypsilophodont beds (Isle of Wight); suggests that these little dinosaurs were probably highly social animals that lived in groups.  Being only two metres long, there was probably safety in numbers as these little Ornithopods shared their Cretaceous environment with a number of large, predatory Theropods.

This is a well designed and innovative model, an excellent representation of Hypsilophodon that we think will prove to be very popular with dinosaur enthusiasts and dinosaur model collectors.

Remembering Adam Sedgwick – A Pioneer of Geology

Adam Sedgwick – One of the Founding Fathers of Geology

Today, the 22nd March, marks the 227th anniversary of Adam Sedgwick, one of the founding fathers of geology and perhaps one of the most influential Earth scientists of the 19th Century.  Adam Sedgwick was born in Yorkshire (England) on March 22nd 1785.  A Cambridge University graduate, Sedgwick dedicated most of his adult life to the study of rocks, rock strata and geological features and was instrumental in helping to classify the strata of the United Kingdom.

Working with the soon to become be-knighted, Roderick Murchison, Sedgwick mapped the Lower Palaeozoic strata of Wales and using fossils found in rocks that he studied, defined the Cambrian geological period  and the later Devonian geological period (with Murchison).  This work took place during the 1830′s when the extension of Britain’s canal system and the first railways led to there  being much more interest in strata and rocks in the United Kingdom, more than ever before.  The on set of the industrial revolution led to the need for more coal and the demand for this fossil fuel helped to develop a scientific interest in how rock layers are formed and how old they might be.

Sedgwick was instrumental in helping to lay the foundations for the science of biostratigraphy.  Biostratigraphy involves estimating the age of strata, which may be separated by hundreds of miles, by examining the fossils it may contain and comparing the fossil data to that found in other bands of rocks.  Widely separated outcrops of rock could be correlated using fossils to identify the relative age of different strata.  Adam Sedgwick studied theology as well as mathematics and was adopted into the English clergy.  Throughout his life he struggled to defend the established religious doctrine against the advancements made in the knowledge of the Earth’s age, formation and composition.  Although Charles Darwin was one of his geology students, he never accepted the theory of natural selection postulated by Darwin in his seminal book “On the Origin of Species”, which was published in 1859.  In fact, Sedgwick was an ardent critic of Darwin’s work and although he praised Darwin for his meticulous studies, he could not accept the consequences of the main theory that Darwin postulated – that of evolution by natural selection.

Adam Sedgwick – Founding Father of Modern Geology

Adam Sedgwick in later life

Sedgwick was involved in a number of scientific controversies, one of the most famous of which was his long running dispute with his former friend and colleague Sir Roderick Murchison.  Whilst studying the rocks and strata of Wales, Sir Roderick in a re-assessment of some of the work carried out in conjunction with Sedgwick; subsequently lowered the base of the Silurian geological period, into the later part of the Cambrian period that had been established previously.  This debate as to when the Silurian began and the Cambrian ended was not fully resolved for many years.

Sedgwick was awarded the Woodwardian Professorship at Cambridge University, a post that he held for more than fifty years.  He played a significant role in the development and advancement of the principles of geology, and today we acknowledge his contribution to Earth Sciences.

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