All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
//October
2 10, 2013

Dinosaurs Go to School

By | October 2nd, 2013|Educational Activities|0 Comments

Year 1 and Year 2 Pupils Learn All About Dinosaurs

Pupils at Bentley High Street Primary School were visited by a team member from Everything Dinosaur recently as Year 1 and Year 2 were studying all things dinosaur for their autumn term Key Stage One topic.  The children were very knowledgeable and clearly the subject had been a big success with the school boasting a number of young palaeontologists under the tutelage of the enthusiastic teaching team.  The Year 1 pupils, two classes 1H and 1G, had lots of examples of their writing, posters and artwork on display in the classrooms. Mrs Gallacher’s class (1G)  had set up their very own dinosaur museum, full of examples of the work that the children had been doing over the course of the term.

Class Dinosaur Museum

Classroom dinosaur museum.

Classroom dinosaur museum.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The teaching team had carefully posted up a number of key words and phrases to do with dinosaurs and fossils.  For example, words such as carnivore and herbivore can be explained using dinosaurs such as T. rex and Triceratops respectively.  This ties in nicely with the parameters of the Key Stage One science syllabus learning about animals and habitats.  There were examples of the children’s work, how data can be handled and some applied maths on display all allied to the teaching aims and objectives for children in Year 1 (aged from 5-6).

One of the dinosaur pictures on display within 1G’s classroom was nicknamed “Tissue-oh-saurus” in reference to the clever use of tissue paper to make the bones that represented the skeleton.  Our team members have made simple illustrations such as this and they are great as a teaching aid when helping children to remember parts of the body.

A Lovely “Tissue-oh-saurus” on Display

A "Tissue-oh-saurus"

A "Tissue-oh-saurus"

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Prehistoric animals and fossils as a term topic can lend itself to all sorts of activities, not only creative illustrations such as this but also the subject can encourage children with their writing skills and sentence construction. For example, Miss Headley and class 1H had been studying a storybook about dinosaur poo, there was some fossil poo (coprolite) in one of the boxes that Everything Dinosaur had brought into the school, so in the afternoon whilst Year 2 were treated to a dinosaur workshop, Miss Headley took the fossil into her classroom and showed it to the children.  No doubt she inspired her class to make up some wonderful stories about prehistoric animals.

The Year 2 teachers Miss Stafford and Miss Morley, aided by their hard-working support staff  had got lots of examples of the children’s work posted up around the classrooms and in the adjacent corridor.  Paper plates had been used to help some of the Year 2 pupils make dinosaurs and the children were fascinated to learn that actually there was a dinosaur called Plateosaurus.  To check learning, a Plateosaurus fact sheet written by Everything Dinosaur’s experts and drawing materials featuring Plateosaurus was emailed to the school with the challenge for the children to see if they could work out whether Plateosaurus was a herbivore or a carnivore.

Children in Year 2 Create Dinosaurs from Paper Plates

Dinosaurs made from plates, a wall display featuring Plateosaurus!

Dinosaurs made from plates, a wall display featuring Plateosaurus!

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

What a colourful collection of “Plateosaurs”

Part of the back wall in 2S’s class displayed a wonderful dinosaur diorama.  Interspersed between the various prehistoric animals were smaller drawings done by individual children.  The display was very bright and cheerful with the big teeth of a Tyrannosaurus rex carefully included in the artwork.

Children from Year 2 and their Dinosaur Wall Display

Colourful prehistoric animals.

Colourful prehistoric animals.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Wonderful, colourful dinosaurs, a bright red Ankylosaur, a purple Stegosaurus and looking down on the scene a lovely blue coloured Sauropod whilst in the background a volcano erupts.  The children asked about how the dinosaurs became extinct and we touched upon the relationship between dinosaurs and birds.  There was even a question asked about how dinosaurs go to sleep.  We tried our best to answer all the questions from the eager young dinosaur fans (even answered one or two questions posed by the HLTAs and LSAs as well).

2 10, 2013

Dinosaurs and Fossils Visit School

By | October 2nd, 2013|Key Stage 1/2|Comments Off on Dinosaurs and Fossils Visit School

Key Stage 1 Pupils Learn All About Fossils

For Key Stage 1 pupils at Bentley High Street Primary, their dinosaur themed term topic was rounded off by a visit from the dinosaur and fossil experts at Everything Dinosaur.  The Year 1 and Year 2 pupils had been studying dinosaurs as the term topic and the children had clearly enjoyed the topic and learned a lot.  The Year one pupils in classes 1G and 1H showed lots of examples of their writing, poster art and data tables that they had produced.  Mrs Gallacher (teacher 1G), had even turned part of her classroom into a dinosaur museum so that the children’s work could be displayed.

The Dinosaur Museum in Class 1G

Key Stage 1 pupils display their work.

Key Stage 1 pupils display their work.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur/Bentley High Street Primary

A dinosaur term topic permits the learning support providers to introduce some basic scientific concepts such as food chains as well as exploring living and extinct creatures and making comparisons between them.  It lends itself to lots of creative writing extension activities as well as helping to enthuse the children about maths and numbers, after all, what six year old can refuse a maths quiz that involves counting and then subtracting plates from a Stegosaurus or the playing of a counting game with our dinosaur experts which involves the teeth from a very large, meat-eating dinosaur.

To learn more about Everything Dinosaur’s work in school, simply drop Everything Dinosaur  an email: Contact Us

The teachers with the support of the teaching assistants had posted up a number of cards with key words and phrases to do with dinosaurs and fossils.  Our dinosaur expert was happy to assist and advise when it came to this extension activity.  For instance, words such as herbivore, omnivore and carnivore were explained, with the children looking at their own teeth to see their different shapes.  This dovetails into the teaching objectives and aims of the Key Stage 1 science syllabus which involves learning about animals and habitats.

 There were examples of the children’s work, how data can be presented using simple tables and very colourful bar graphs and some applied maths on display all allied to the teaching aims for children in Year 1 (aged from five to six years).

There was also a lot of very beautiful artwork on display.  We had suggested using white tissue paper to make a piece of art with the tissue representing the bones of the prehistoric animal.  The tissue paper was rolled into various shapes and stuck onto brown sugar paper.   The skeleton, our “Tissue-oh-saurus” made a lovely display.  Such simple illustrations are a great way to get the children to remember different parts of the body.

A “Tissue-oh-saurus” Created by Key Stage 1 Pupils

An innovative use of cheap and readily available teaching resources.

An innovative use of cheap and readily available teaching resources.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur/Bentley High Street Primary

We suggested that the skeleton should be labelled by the children to help reinforce learning about different parts of the body.

Year 2 children were keen to demonstrate their learning and we quizzed them on ideas as to why the dinosaurs became extinct.  One of the walls of the classroom (2S) had a fantastic dinosaur diorama on display.  The mural was very colourful and when we showed the teeth of a Tyrannosaurus rex, the pupils were quick to point out how accurate their wall mural was.

Year 2 Children Produced a Super Dinosaur Themed Display

Colourful dinosaurs on display.

Colourful dinosaurs on display.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur/Bentley High Street Primary

The teaching team thanked our team members for their help with the term topic and later on that day, we emailed over some further information and teaching extension ideas, just as we had promised.

1 10, 2013

Saying it with Flowers, 100 Million Years Before Anyone Expected

By | October 1st, 2013|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories|0 Comments

New Research Suggests Origins of Flowering Plants as far back as the Middle Triassic

Angiosperms (flowering plants) may have originated more than 100 million years earlier than previously thought according to new research published in the academic journal “Frontiers in Plant Science”.  A team of researchers from the University of Zurich (Switzerland) in collaboration with Geological Consulting & Services of Ober-Ramstadt, (Germany) have discovered microscopic evidence that suggests that flowering plants existed approximately 243 million years ago.  Cores taken from rock strata dating from the Middle Triassic in northern Switzerland have revealed evidence of at least six types of angiosperm pollen, much of which bears a striking resemblance to fossil pollen associated with Lower Cretaceous deposits.

It had been thought that the angiosperms evolved in the Early Cretaceous, it had even been suggested that the grazing habits of Ornithopod and Sauropod dinosaurs may have led to pressure on plant populations which resulted in the evolution of the flowering plants – the last of the great plant groups to evolve and one that has grown to encompass over 250,000 species today.  Much of our modern world’s vegetation is characterised by flowering plants and most of our food crops are angiosperms, however, their origins and exactly when angiosperms first appeared has been the subject of a lot of debate.  They probably evolved from derived pteridosperms (seed ferns) but there is a lack of clear, unambiguous fossil evidence to confirm this.  Also, when they first evolved is not clear either, delicate plants do not fossilise well, but the tough pollen grains can be preserved and it is evidence of Triassic pollen grains that has pushed back the potential origins of flowering plants by 100 million years.

New Study Suggests that Scientists May Have to Change their Views on Triassic Flora

New study changes our view of the Triassic landscape.

New study changes our view of the Triassic landscape.

Picture Credit: Kingfisher

Pollen grains are easily dispersed over wide areas due to their relatively small size and the high numbers produced.  They can be found in various depositional environments (marine, coastal, and terrestrial).  For this reason records of fossil pollen are most complete if compared to other plant organs such as seeds or leaves which are considerably more fragile and have a much lower fossilisation potential. Generally accepted first records of angiosperm pollen are mentioned from the early part of the Early Cretaceous (Valanginian—early Hauterivian), corresponding to an age range of approximately 139–133 million years ago (Early Cretaceous).   However, within this interval, pollen fossils are extremely rare and poorly documented.  Most microscopic studies of flora from Lower Cretaceous sediments lack any signs of fossil pollen at all.  However, fossilised grains of pollen become more common in younger Cretaceous rocks and it was because of this data it had been thought that flowering plants evolved in the Early Cretaceous and then rapidly diversified over the next twenty million years or so to establish this group as the dominant terrestrial flora over much of the planet.

A High Resolution, Computer Generated Image of the Triassic Pollen Grains

Evidence of pollen grains from the Middle Triassic.

Evidence of pollen grains from the Middle Triassic.

Picture Credit: Peter Hochuli/Susanne Feist-Burkhardt

The scale bar in the picture above measures ten micrometres

All angiosperms produce pollen, the male part in reproduction is encased in the tough, protective pollen grain and these tiny grains can be studied using microscopy and other techniques as they do tend to have a high preservation potential.

Professor Peter Hochuli of the University of Zurich and his team  used a technique known as confocal laser scanning microscopy to analyse rock samples dating from the Anisian epoch of the Middle Triassic.  The research produced three-dimensional, highly detailed images of the outer, protective elements of fossilised pollen grains.  Six distinct types of fossilised flowering plant-like pollen was identified, potentially changing the impression palaeontologists had of Triassic flora which formerly had been thought to consist of ferns, conifers, cycads, bennettitaleans, caytonialeans and other types of seed-plant. Intriguingly, the microscopic pollen fossils from the Mid Triassic strata looks very similar to the pollen fossils recovered from Lower Cretaceous deposits.

Professor Hochuli stated:

“With a few differences…the pollen from the Middle Triassic look exactly the same as the angiosperm pollen from the Early Cretaceous.”

The research team, which includes Dr. Susanne Feist-Burkhardt, suggest that these Triassic samples when compared to the oldest examples of Cretaceous pollen suggest an affinity to a basal group of angiosperms.  Previous studies of Middle Triassic strata from the Barents Sea area, which Professor Hochuli worked on, may also have revealed microscopic pollen-like structures.  This has led to scientists to conclude that flowering plants may have their origins either earlier than the Middle Triassic, perhaps basal forms existed in the Palaeozoic.

What is surprising, is that as far as we at Everything Dinosaur are aware, no evidence of pollen has been found in studies of strata deposited in the Jurassic.  There is now a hefty 100 million year gap between these Triassic aged findings and evidence of pollen being found in Lower Cretaceous aged rocks.  Professor Hochuli has proposed an explanation for this anomaly.  He suggests since scientists such as palaeobotanists did not expect to find pollen in Jurassic samples, they simply did not look for it.

Were the Lystrosaurs at Home Amongst the Flowers?

A prehistoric pig, a very successful synapsid reptile.

A prehistoric pig, a very successful synapsid reptile.

Picture Credit: Telegraph/Graphics

He commented:

“I think part of it [the lack of pollen fossils being found in deposits formed between the Middle Triassic and the Lower Cretaceous] is a gap in the observation, one finds what is already known.  Without my experience from the Barents Sea, I think I would have missed the few tiny grain”

The pollen grains make up a very small proportion of the overall flora recorded in the Middle Triassic strata, seed ferns, conifers and cycads were very much the dominant terrestrial plant life, but flowering plants had a foot hold which suggests that they may have originated even further back in time.  The research team aim to study other European deposits but those that date from the Early Triassic and the Late Permian in a bid to discover evidence of the first types of flowering plants.

This throws up the interesting possibility that the Permian extinction event may have played a role in altering the mix of flora on our planet.  The Permian period ended with a mass extinction event that wiped out seventy percent of terrestrial species, the void left in ecosystems could have been the spark required to promote the evolution of new types of plant such as the angiosperms.

Load More Posts