All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
30 03, 2010

Rogue Fossil Collectors on England’s Jurassic Coast Face Ban

By | March 30th, 2010|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Geology, Main Page|0 Comments

Court Injunctions help Protect Dorset’s Jurassic Coast

In December 2001, the Dorset and East Devon coastline was awarded World Heritage Status by UNESCO.  It is England’s first recognised natural World Heritage site, ranking alongside such historic locations as the Great Barrier Reef and the Galapagos Islands.  Now two court injunctions issued against unscrupulous fossil collectors are helping to protect and preserve this unique set of fossil bearing geological formations.

Team members at Everything Dinosaur have been lucky enough to have visited the Lyme Regis and Charmouth area on many occasions, it is a truly beautiful part of the coastline of southern England.  Although collecting fossils from the beach is a fun and very satisfying pursuit, often providing children with their first experience of fossils, parts of the cliff have been made more dangerous due to the activities of some rogue commercial fossil hunters.

The Jurassic Cliffs between Charmouth and Lyme Regis

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The National Trust and Charmouth council secured the first order banning a Somerset man from extracting fossils out of the cliffs as it was feared that these activities could endanger others if there were landslips.  In a similar move, a second injunction was also made by Taunton County Court banning “unknown persons” from digging in the Dorset coast area.

A spokesperson for the National Trust, the organisation responsible for the management of much of the UNESCO World Heritage coastline in conjunction with the local councils said that fossils could still be collected from the beach but these orders would prevent extraction of fossils from cliff faces and help prevent coastal erosion.

The spokesperson went onto add:

“The man has been involved in extracting large numbers of fossils by digging expressly against the wishes of the landowners and the guidance of the West Dorset fossil collecting code of conduct.  His actions have also placed the public, including walkers and families, at risk from falling rocks.”

Any person or persons, breaking the injunction, which came into force in time for the Spring tourist season, could be arrested.  We at Everything Dinosaur, welcome this move as we are very aware how unstable the cliffs are and indeed we have been shocked and appalled by some of the activities of commercial fossil hunters in the area in recent years.  Fortunately, for every rogue dealer than are many more highly professional fossil collectors who respect their environment and work within the confines of the Fossil Collecting Code of Conduct – a code we ourselves have done much to publicise and promote.

Helen Mann, the National Trust property manager in Dorset, went onto add:

“These injunctions are not about stopping people picking up the fossils on the beaches.  We know thousands of families enjoy collecting fossils as a memento of their visit to the Jurassic Coastline and this is a valuable educational activity for many families and schools.  This is about preventing inappropriate and unlawful fossil collection which damages the coastline.”

She went onto add:

“Wholesale digging into the cliffs, prospecting along fossil-rich layers, is dangerous and unacceptable.”

We at Everything Dinosaur wholeheartedly support this action by the authorities and we hope that the threat of arrest will deter those commercial collectors who migrate to the Dorset coast with the sole objective of taking out as many fossils as they can in as quick a time as possible with a view to selling them to private collectors and on auction websites.

If you would like to visit the Jurassic coast and take part in an organised fossil hunting walk with local experts, we are happy to recommend a number of Dorset based professional fossil collectors who conduct a number of daily guided walks along England’s historic Jurassic coastline.

For further information visit: Guided Fossil Walks at Lyme Regis

30 03, 2010

Easter Holidays – Try a Visit to Dinosaurs Unleashed

By | March 30th, 2010|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page|0 Comments

Take the Family to Dinosaurs Unleashed in London (Easter Holiday Idea)

The clocks have gone forward, we are now basking in British Summer Time (BST) and with the longer daylight and the kids off school for the Easter holiday why not take a trip to London to take in the sights, do a bit of shopping and visit Dinosaurs Unleashed in Oxford Street.

Dinosaurs Unleashed is the UK’s largest fully animatronic, life-sized dinosaur experience with over 24 full-size dinosaurs, located in the heart of London on Oxford Street.  One of our team members had the opportunity to visit this memorable attraction early one morning, before it was open to the public, a sort of sneak preview of this Mesozoic attraction.

Getting up Close to a Stegosaurus

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The picture shows a life-size, animatronic model of that Jurassic favourite Stegosaurus.  The Mesozoic garden has been laid out in such a way that if you walk around it in an anti-clockwise direction you are following the history of the evolution of plant life through the Mesozoic.  Starting with cycads, seed ferns and horsetails, the backdrop to the huge prehistoric animal models slowly changes, mimicking the evolution of plant life.  By the time visitors have reached the far end of the garden, close to the Deinosuchus (giant crocodile) lurking in the lagoon, they will see a plethora of plants, including flowering ones; these represent fauna at the very end of the Cretaceous.  Keen gardeners will be surprised to learn that many of the shrubs, bushes and flowers that they cultivate in their own back gardens have origins from the time of dinosaurs.  The ancient ancestor of that prize cutting brought back from the garden centre may once have been munched upon by a duck-billed dinosaur.

The biggest model on display is that of Diplodocus, at three times the length of a double-decker bus, it is a truly impressive beast.

Close up of the head of Diplodocus

Diplodocus Unleashed

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

It is when you get close to such a huge model that you can really appreciate the size and scale of some of these long extinct creatures.  The children that had begun to congregate around the Diplodocus exhibit were full of wonder and very excited at coming face to face with this long-necked giant.  At this point, our member of staff got rather way laid as he was bombarded with questions about Diplodocus and the other dinosaurs on show.  The Dinosaurs Unleashed staff also asked lots of interesting questions.  Questions such as how do we know what colour dinosaurs were?  What sounds did they make?  How did we know what the arrangement of the armoured plates on the back of Stegosaurus was like?   Our expert did his best to answer the many and varied questions, as for the query regarding the plates on a Stegosaurus, a clue to the answer he gave can be found in the exhibit itself, can anyone spot the hint at the layout of the Stegosaurus plates that is found within the Dinosaurs Unleashed Mesozoic garden?

Causing much amusement amongst the staff was the sight of some ducks, happily going about their business in the midst of the giant dinosaur models.  How ironic that these small birds should visit the Diplodocus and share the pond.  After all, last year, scientists in China reported finding the oldest fossil of a toothless bird to date.  At 120 million years old, this type of feathered friend would have come across many a long-necked dinosaur as it waddled its way around the early Cretaceous forests of China.

To read more about this recent discovery: An Ancient Duck – Oldest Bird with Toothless Jaw Found to Date

There was plenty of good quality of information available on the prehistoric animals featured, although the name Leedsichthys, the huge plankton feeding, Jurassic giant fish was spelt wrong, a shame because the Jurassic aquarium with its realistic marine reptiles and ammonites was a joy to watch.  I am sure that the many young dinosaur fans that visit the attraction will learn a lot.

Dinosaurs Unleashed has been extended to the 3rd of May, but time is running out to catch the prehistoric animals in all their majesty.  If you want an exciting and fun filled activity for the Easter holidays then visit Dinosaurs Unleashed, it will appeal to both young and old alike.

For updates on dinosaur exhibitions, check out the Everything Dinosaur blog.

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