All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
15 08, 2015

Dinosaur Summer School A Roaring Success

By | August 15th, 2015|General Teaching, Key Stage 1/2|Comments Off on Dinosaur Summer School A Roaring Success

School Children Study Dinosaurs with a Literacy Focus

Pupils at Kingswood Primary Academy got to grips with dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals in a two-week long fossil themed summer school aimed at helping the children to improve their reading and writing skills.  The teaching experts at Everything Dinosaur were invited to take part helping to inspire and enthuse the pupils.  The ages of the children participating ranged from seven years to eleven years of age, the newspapers that they produced at the end of the fortnight which detailed their dinosaur discoveries were very professionally produced.

The fossils and other objects that Everything Dinosaur brought to the school proved to be very effective teaching aids and the children loved “picking the brains” of our dinosaur experts and showing off their writing.  The fossil hunt organised for the second week of study was especially popular with the school children able to take home the fossils they had found.  The fossils were donated by Everything Dinosaur and come from various dig sites that the Cheshire based company had been involved in.  There were Ammonites, sharks teeth, fossilised wood, pieces of fossilised bone, Belemnite guards and even some super fossilised worm casts to discover.

Feedback from the teaching team was extremely positive, comments received included:

“Very interactive, fascinating and relevant the children loved these activities”

Dinosaur Themed Summer School a Roaring Success!

Feedback from a teacher about Everything Dinosaur's contribution to the summer school.

Feedback from a teacher about Everything Dinosaur’s contribution to the summer school.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The picture above is a copy of the feedback form returned to Everything Dinosaur after the company’s participation in the summer school.  All too soon it was time to pack up but the team members did take time out to inspect some of the wonderful writing work that had been created by the children.  There were dinosaur posters, dinosaur fact cards, fact sheets all about extinction and even a marine reptile scene.

One of the teachers responsible for conducting the two-week long summer school stated:

“The Everything Dinosaur team member spent time with the children and answered all their questions.  Everything Dinosaur had a brilliant attitude with the children and they were really enthusiastic.  The team went out of their way to find extra information to answer one of the children’s questions.  Super resources.”

It seems that Everything Dinosaur’s work over the summer has been a roaring success.

To learn more about the company’s work in schools and to request a quotation for a school visit: Contact Everything Dinosaur

15 08, 2015

British Dinosaur Fossils Go on Display

By | August 15th, 2015|General Teaching|Comments Off on British Dinosaur Fossils Go on Display

Hypselospinus Dinosaur Fossils on Display at Bexhill Museum

The fossils of a large, plant-eating dinosaur have gone on display at Bexhill Museum (East Sussex).  The dinosaur is a type of iguanodontid dinosaur, part of a clade of very successful bird-hipped dinosaurs that were very geographically widespread during the Mesozoic Era.  The fossils, which represent limb bones and a single tail bone (caudal vertebra), were discovered by local palaeontologists Peter and Joyce Austen, it was Joyce, a specialist in palaeobotany, who found the first evidence of this dinosaur’s remains although the majority of the bones were excavated by local fossil hunter and dinosaur enthusiast David Brockhurst.

The Hypselospinus Fossils on Display at Bexhill Museum

Dinosaur fossils on display at Bexhill Museum.

Dinosaur fossils on display at Bexhill Museum.

Picture Credit: Bexhill-on-Sea Observer

The dinosaur (Hypselospinus fittoni), was formerly named and described in the late 19th Century, from other fossil material found in East Sussex.  The Bexhill Museum material has been dated to the Early Cretaceous geological period.  A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur explained that during the Early Cretaceous much of southern England formed a verdant flood plain that teemed with prehistoric life.  The Hypselospinus fossils are estimated to be around 14o million years old.

Bexhill Museum is an independent museum run by volunteers whose patron is the comedian Eddie Izzard.  It contains a wide variety of artefacts including a number of locally sourced fossils including dinosaurs and flying reptiles (Pterosaurs).  For the residents of this East Sussex seaside resort, it might be difficult to comprehend but back in the Early Cretaceous dinosaurs roamed the area.

A Model of a Typical Iguanodontid Like Hypselospinus

A typical iguanodontid dinosaur.

A typical iguanodontid dinosaur.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Hypselospinus was formally  named and described in 1889.  It was typical of an iguanodontid dinosaur, reaching lengths of around six metres and perhaps weighing as much as two tonnes.  It ambled around on all fours, but if the need arose, it could rise up onto its strong hind legs and adopt bipedal locomotion.  Large neural spines associated with the dorsal vertebrae (back bones) suggest that Hypselospinus had a steeply arching back, this feature distinguishes this dinosaur from other iguanodontids known from southern England.  It was formerly known as Iguanodon fittoni.

Everything Dinosaur supplies a range of museum quality, hand-painted dinosaur models including replicas of iguanodontids.  These are ideal for use in schools and teaching programmes.

To view the models: Dinosaur Models

15 08, 2015

Somerset Reveals Its Diverse Triassic Fauna

By | August 15th, 2015|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

Ancient Triassic Seas of South West England Teemed with Life

An ancient coastal landscape has been brought to life thanks to the dedicated research of an undergraduate from Bristol University.  Klara Nordén has explored the diversity of animal life that inhabited the shorelines of south-western England 200 million years ago (Late Triassic), using fossils collected by Gloucester-based geologist Mike Curtis back in the 1980’s.

The student from the School of Earth Sciences (Bristol University) examined material from Late Triassic sediments at the Marston Road Quarry, near the town of Nunney in Somerset.  This site is well known for its microfossils and many types of fossil teeth.  Although Mike Curtis collected the material back in the 1980’s the fossils have not been formally studied until now.

The paper published in the “Proceedings of the Geologists’ Association” highlights the diverse fauna that once existed in this part of south-western England.  The palaeoenvironment consisted of a shallow, tropical sea with many small islands close by.  It was on these islands that Bristol’s very own dinosaur the Thecodontosaurus roamed.  Thecodontosaurus was the fourth dinosaur to be officially described (actually it was described before the term Dinosauria had been erected).  Although a number of specimens were lost when Bristol City Museum was bombed in World War II, enough fossil material has been collected to make this little Sauropodomorpha one of Britain’s best known early Mesozoic dinosaurs.

To read an article about Thecodontosaurus: Bristol Remembers Thecodontosaurus

The study revealed a total of six species of bony fish and a further six species of shark, as well as the presence of a Placodont, a type of marine reptile believed to be distantly related to the Plesiosaurs and a member of the Sauropterygia.  The Placodont has been identified as Psephoderma alpinum.  Described as being lizard-like with an armoured shell, this reptile fed on shellfish and other invertebrates found in the sediment on the seabed.

An Artist’s Drawing of the Placodont Psephoderma alpinum

An illustration of the Triassic Placodont Psephoderma.

An illustration of the Triassic Placodont Psephoderma.

Picture Credit: James O’Shea

In addition, the study revealed the presence of a number of predatory marine reptiles including a crocodile-like animal in the shallow coastal waters (Pachystropheus rhaeticus), a semi-aquatic reptile first described in 1935, nearly one hundred years after the fossils of Thecodontosaurus were scientifically studied.

Commenting upon her research into this ancient Somerset archipelago, student Klara stated:

“We were excited to find teeth from a Placodont, which are rare in British sediments.  The presence of Placodonts indicates that the area was once a coastal environment, with shallow waters and abundant invertebrate prey.  Placodonts were in decline in the Late Triassic and the Placodont teeth from Marston Road mush come from some of the last of these reptiles to exist on Earth.”

The strata in this part of the world associated with the Upper Triassic (Rhaetian faunal stage), is well-known for its bone beds containing abundant remains of fish and reptiles.  It is not just marine fauna that has been preserved, fluvial processes have resulted in the long distance transport of the remains of land animals around at the time becoming deposited into the shallow marine strata being laid down.  The study also revealed the presence of Sphenodontians that would have co-existed on the tropical islands alongside the dinosaurs.

Sphenodontians inhabited the islands in the archipelago, which they shared with Thecodontosaurus, the famous ‘Bristol dinosaur’.  These small animals resemble lizards but they are not members of the Order Squamata.  They represent a very ancient reptilian lineage that probably originated in the Early Triassic.  Like lizards and snakes, they are diapsids  and the Sphenodontians are classified along with snakes and lizards in the SuperOrder Lepidosauria but on a distinct branch from the Squamata, (the Rhynchocephalia – meaning “beak heads”).  This study documents the first time that Sphenodontian fossils have been recorded in British marine sediments.

Although once diverse, there is only one genus of Sphenodontian living today, the remarkable Tuatara that can be found on a few New Zealand islands (there are attempts being made to introduce this little reptile back to the New Zealand mainland).

A Picture of a Tuatara

Only two species of this once very diverse group of reptiles still survive today.

Only two species of this once very diverse group of reptiles still survive today.

Picture Credit: New Zealand Tuatara Conservation Team

To read an article about a genetic study into these ancient reptiles: The Tuatara Has a Surprise in its Genes

Klara’s supervisor is Professor Michael Benton (School of Earth Sciences), he explained that the fossils reveal the details of a coastal landscape that existed some 200 million years ago and they paint a very different picture from today, after all, the Bristol Channel can hardly be regarded as a tropical sea.

The Professor stated:

“It’s really unusual to find remains of land-living animals mixed in with the marine fishes and sharks.  They must have been washed off the land into the shallow sea and this provides evidence to match the age of the marine and terrestrial deposits in the area.”

Co-author of the report, published in the “Proceedings of the Geologist’s Association”, Dr. Chris Duffin added:

“I began working on these fossils from the Bristol area forty years ago and it’s great to see such wonderful work by a Bristol undergraduate.”

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