All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
20 09, 2015

Redefining the Neanderthals

By | September 20th, 2015|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page, Palaeontological articles|0 Comments

Changing Perceptions Towards Homo neanderthalensis

The Gibraltar Museum is holding a special conference at the end of September.  It is in part a celebration of the Museum’s eighty-five year history but it also sets out to re-dress some of the misconceptions about our nearest ancestor, the Neanderthal.  The idea that these hominins were nothing more than blood-thirsty, brutal creatures, a view held as sacrosanct for much of the 20th Century, has now been altered for ever as recent discoveries by palaeontologists and palaeoanthropologists have shed new light on our closest ancestor, one that walked amongst us as recently as 28,000 years ago.

Neanderthal – Our Closest Relative

Research into the genetics of ancient hominids.

A clever and sophisticated species.

High profile speakers and international scientists, all specialists in the study of human evolution, will converge on Gibraltar to discuss how our views have changed in a conference entitled “Redefining the Neanderthals”.

Gibraltar is a very appropriate location to hold such a conference.  It was in Gibraltar that the first Neanderthal skull was found and studied by scientists, although the find (1848), took place before the Neanderthal species was named.  Neanderthal occupation has been identified in at least ten caves in the area, in fact, the Neanderthals who lived on the coastal plain that once existed where the rock of Gibraltar now stands may have been some of the very last of their species.

The Neanderthal caves and the surrounding area has been nominated for World Heritage Status, if these locations are granted such status, it would give the caves the same standing in scientific circles as the Great Barrier Reef, and the Jurassic Coast of Dorset.

The conference will also highlight Gibraltar as an exceptionally important part of the world for Neanderthal studies.  It will run from the 24th to 26th September and invited delegates will be given the opportunity to visit some of the research sites on Sunday the 27th.  Professor Chris Stringer (Natural History Museum, London) will deliver the opening address.  Speakers will come from a number of countries including Spain, Italy, Croatia, Germany and the United States.  Topics to be discussed will include how the Neanderthals were able to exploit raptors and corvids (crows), for a number of purposes.  For example, eagle talons have been used as jewellery (reported from Croatia earlier this summer).

The conference will provide a fresh insight into the Neanderthals, a sophisticated, perfectly adapted hominin whose extinction remains a mystery as there is a growing body of evidence to suggest that these people were smart, strong, capable of language and developed sophisticated cultures.

Why they are gone yet we are here is one of the questions likely to be debated.

If you don’t think the Neanderthals were smart, try catching a crow, or an eagle for that matter!

19 09, 2015

Thieves Steal Fossils from Devon Cave

By | September 19th, 2015|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page|0 Comments

Fossils from the Joint Mitnor Cave Stolen

Sad news to report today.  It has come to our attention that thieves have ransacked the fossil deposits preserved at Joint Mitnor Cave located near the town of Buckfastleigh in Devon.  Items stolen include a beautifully preserved prehistoric elephant’s tooth that is believed to be around 100,000 years old.  Devon and Cornwall Police are currently investigating the theft, with the high prices that fossil teeth and bones can fetch on the black market, such thefts are becoming all too common.

The Joint Mitnor Cave, named after the people who discovered it, is located in a limestone quarry (Higher Klin Quarry), one of a sequence of caves that once formed a much larger structure.  The caves were originally formed as water, part of the River Dart system, percolated down and slowly eroded away the Devonian limestone rocks to form caverns.  The door guarding the cave was smashed and the thieves removed a number of fossil specimens.  The cave is one of a number of such sites managed by the William Pengelly Cave Studies Trust, at just over fifty metres long it is not that big, but during the last interglacial period, part of the roof of the cave collapsed creating a trap in which unwary animals could fall into.  The fossilised bones of Hippos, Hyenas, Elephants and Bison have been found.  Most of the fossils had been removed and taken to the Natural History Museum (London) back in the 1960’s but a number of specimens had remained in situ so that visitors could see the fossils and learn how such fossils in caves form.

The Elephant Tooth Fossil Photographed in the Cave

An elephant tooth lies adjacent to some crushed bison bones.

An elephant tooth lies adjacent to some crushed bison bones.

Picture Credit: William Pengelly Cave Studies Trust

The cave contained the richest deposits of mammalian remains found in a cave in Britain.  The fossils date to the Ipswichian stage of the Pleistocene Epoch.  Alan Finch, secretary of the William Pengelly Cave Studies Trust commented that the stolen elephant tooth (straight-tusked elephant) was “presumably regarded as a trophy.”

The secretary added:

“Its loss is a serious blow to those who have been custodians of the site for over fifty years and to the general scientific community.”

The cave has been classified as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and although it is not possible to place a value on the fossils, given the high demand for prices these days, the tooth alone could sell for hundreds of pounds.  The theft is believed to have taken place sometime between the 3rd of September and September 12th.  The fossils could find their way onto an on line auction site, or perhaps they were stolen to order and will end up in the hands of a private collector.

Commenting on the robbery a spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur stated:

“The caves have been open for more than fifty years and have acted as an educational resource centre as well as a location for scientific demonstrations.  It is such a shame that this has happened.”

The Trust is supported by lottery funding and grants from the Nature Conservancy.

If anyone has information concerning the whereabouts of the stolen fossils or information about the theft, Devon and Cornwall Police can be contacted here: Contact Devon and Cornwall Police

18 09, 2015

Notes on Lyme Regis

By | September 18th, 2015|Educational Activities, Geology, Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

A Private Fossil Walk Represents Good Value

With the completion of the eastern sea wall at Lyme Regis last year the access to the beach between the town and Charmouth has certainly got easier.  No more climbing over the slippery rocks and the groynes that laid between the end of the beach front and the Church Cliffs.  That might sound like good news and it certainly is, especially for families trying to access the beach.  There is a downside to the new sea defences though, greater access has meant that over the summer months there have been more people than ever scouring the beach between Charmouth and Lyme Regis looking for fossils.  Pickings can be somewhat slim as a result.

The Newly Completed Magnificent Sea Wall at Lyme Regis

Part of the coastal defences at Lyme Regis

Part of the coastal defences at Lyme Regis

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The sea wall is part of an extensive array of features to help secure the cliffs and the land immediately behind them in a bid to protect the area from further land slips.  Eventually, these defences will give way but the engineering works has probably given the many houses on the cliffs another fifty years of life or so.  Whether or not the sea wall and other defences such as the remodelled beach area close to the famous Cobb has had an impact on the way in which the waves scour the beaches remains uncertain, time will tell, although we have heard from one reliable source that there seems to be a greater amount of sediment deposited out into Lyme Bay.  To help stabilise the cliffs, the slopes have been planted with thousands of small bushes and other plants to help anchor the soil.

The Cliffs have been Planted to Help Prevent Further Land Slides

Stonebarrow and Golden Cap can be seen in the background.

Stonebarrow and Golden Cap can be seen in the background.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

What Do the Changes Mean for Fossil Hunters?

Lyme Regis has always been a popular destination for would-be fossil hunters. With easier access to the beaches to the east of the town, there is a feeling amongst locals that finding fossils along the shoreline is getting harder.  There are certainly lots of fossils to be found, but large pieces of ammonite and any Ichthyosaur vertebrae are increasingly rare.  For example, during a recent trip to Lyme Regis, we spent a morning on the beach walking slowly up to Charmouth and we were surprised by the lack of fossils.  Belemnite guards were still plentiful, especially as we approached the “Belemnite Beds” but we found no fossils of Promicroceras, which surprised us somewhat.  This small ammonite used to be a relatively common fossil find, there was also a lack of nodules on the beach, although from the scattered shards of split rock there was plenty of evidence of previous visitors having hammered away quite happily at any stone bigger than a house brick, whether or not it was likely to contain a specimen inside.

Not a Very Successful Fossil Hunt

Fossils are becoming more difficult to find at Lyme Regis.

Fossils are becoming more difficult to find at Lyme Regis.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Advice for Visitors to Lyme Regis

With the popularity of fossil collecting on the increase and with the easier access to the beach, visitors to Lyme Regis might be disappointed by their lack of fossil discoveries.  One way of helping to get the most out of a visit is to book yourself onto an organised public walk.  There are a number of professional fossil hunters and guides who offer public walks.  These are a very good idea, especially when one considers the risk of getting cut off by an incoming tide or the hazards of rocks falling from the cliffs.  On a public walk your knowledgeable guide should be able to provide you with a very informative tour of the geology and help you to find a few fossils along the way.

Private Fossil Walks are Best

However, if you really want to make the best use of your time, try booking a private walk.  On some public walks that we have observed there can be as many as fifty people in the party.  Simply, getting a question answered amongst a throng of eager fossil hunters that size can be quite an ordeal, even the most dedicated guide can struggle to accommodate everybody’s needs.  Public walks tend to take place on the weekend, a time when the beaches are likely to be congested.  Private walks can be booked at a time to suit you (tides permitting) and you can be assured that your party will be very well looked after by the guide.  You are also more likely to be directed to the best fossil hunting locations, local knowledge wins out every time.  For example, for that beautiful Promicroceras ammonite, your best chance might be to sieve for fossils.  On a private walk, the guide can provide suitable sieves and show you the best technique to help you make your very own fossil discovery.  Knowing exactly where to start sieving on the beach is half the battle.

Still Fossils to be Found but Local Knowledge is Key

Fossils can still be found on the shore.

Fossils can still be found on the shore.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Private walks book up very quickly in advance, if you are thinking of visiting the Dorset coast next year, now is an ideal time to get yourself and your family booked on one.  Fossil walks are arranged around safe tide times so be aware that some preferred days may not be suitable.  Most organisers of private fossil walks ask for children to be at least five years old.  Walks take around three to four hours, advice can be provided on where to park any vehicles and as for what you should bring here is a quick check list:

  • Suitable clothing, wellington boots or other stout footwear.  Warm clothing especially in the winter and early spring, having  a waterproof jacket on hand is very sensible, gloves in cold weather too.
  • Bring a snack and a drink although remember to take your rubbish home with you.
  • Bathroom breaks – there are no toilet facilities on the beaches, although most walks commence from the town centre and there are toilet facilities here at the start of the walk.
  • Tools to bring – most guides will be happy to break any nodules open for you, hammers are not usually supplied.  If you do bring your own hammer (please make sure it is a geological hammer), then remember the safety specs and tough gardening gloves.  For advice on the difference between geological hammers and tool box hammers: Geological Hammers What’s So Special About Them?

The fossil walk guide will be able to provide you with the very best chance of finding a top quality fossil and also be able to point out the best places to look.  You will learn a lot more about the history of the local area as well as having the opportunity to get one to one assistance and support.  Private fossil walks really do offer excellent value and they usually cost less than a family three-course meal in a pub.

For further information on private walks (public walks as well), Everything Dinosaur recommends: Lyme Regis Fossil Walks (Public and Private)

Private fossil hunting walks at Lyme Regis can prove to be a very worthwhile investment and provide visitors to the Jurassic Coast with an excellent opportunity to learn more about this fascinating area of Britain.

17 09, 2015

CollectA 1:40 Feathered T. rex Dinosaur Model

By | September 17th, 2015|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products|0 Comments

CollectA Feathered T. rex Dinosaur Model in Stock

The CollectA feathered Tyrannosaurus rex dinosaur model has arrived and what a beautiful model of a feathered tyrannosaurid it is too.  The model with its clearly defined shaggy coat of proto-feathers stands on a sand effect base.  This perhaps this 1:40 scale T. rex replica to be depicted in a more dynamic pose than other models.  Both hind feet might be on the ground but the model gives the impression of this seven tonne dinosaur making a swift turn, perhaps to try and get round the horns of a Triceratops or some other unfortunate Late Cretaceous victim.

The Beautiful Feathered Tyrannosaurus rex Dinosaur Model (CollectA)

We even supply a roll of cardboard with every model!

We even supply a roll of cardboard with every model!

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The paint work and detail is super, as we have come to expect from CollectA, the details of that feathery covering can clearly be seen and we love the plume of red feathers on the skull.  They make this carnivore look particularly fearsome.

To view the range of CollectA scale dinosaur models available from Everything Dinosaur: CollectA Deluxe Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animal Models

The face is extremely expressive with its green, brown and black markings and the ear opening can be made out, a nice touch often overlooked in poorer quality replicas.

The 1:40 Scale CollectA Feathered T. rex

The opening for the ear has been skilfully modelled.

The opening for the ear has been skilfully modelled.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

From nose to tail this Tyrannosaurus rex measures a generous thirty-three centimetres long.  In fact the figure is slightly bigger than this as the head and the tip of the tail are curved inwards.  On the base, the model stands fifteen centimetres tall.

We suspect that this new for 2015 dinosaur model, a 1:40 scale replica of a feathered T. rex will be a big hit with dinosaur model fans and collectors alike.  You could say that they might get themselves into a “flap” over this particular Tyrannosaurus rex replica!

17 09, 2015

Moving from Free Flow to More Structured Working

By | September 17th, 2015|Key Stage 1/2|Comments Off on Moving from Free Flow to More Structured Working

The Step Up from Reception to Year 1

At the start of the Autumn Term, many Year 1 teachers might be struggling to come to terms with the fact that their recently arrived charges from the Reception Year might not quite be ready for more structured work.  This can often be a problem, as whilst in Reception, the children will have been involved in much more free flowing activity.  Starting the Autumn with a term topic all about dinosaurs could help to provide a solution.  Many of the children will already have a knowledge of prehistoric animals and their fascination for these ancient creatures can be used to help the children adjust to a more formal scheme of work.

A Year 1 Classroom Ready for the Autumn Term Topic of Dinosaurs

Inspiring classroom displays.

Inspiring classroom displays.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Dinosaurs as a teaching topic lends itself to all sorts of exciting and rewarding structured activities for young children as they make the transition from free flowing teaching to a more learning objective based classroom environment.

A Range of Dinosaur Themed Activities

  • Letter recognition exercises using dinosaur names
  • Sorting dinosaur models by shape (more capable learners might be able to sort out plant-eaters and meat-eaters)
  • Dinosaur themed counting games
  • Looking up pictures of dinosaurs on the internet or in books
  • Writing dinosaur facts
  • Making dinosaur models from cardboard, modelling clay or pasta shapes
  • Dinosaur and prehistoric animal themed drawing exercises
  • Making fossils
  • Digging for dinosaurs in the sandbox
  • Comparing our hands to the footprints of dinosaurs
  • Gathering plants and leaves for the plant-eating dinosaurs
  • Building a “Jurassic Park” in the classroom for the children’s dinosaur toys (a great way to introduce concepts such as habitats, food webs and what animals need to survive)

Everything Dinosaur provides a huge range of free, downloads to help teachers and home educationalists, simply visit: Free Teaching Resources

Dinosaurs as a term topic can really help young children to adjust to a more formal way of working, the topic area also enthuses the teaching team.  After all, who doesn’t want to know how big Tyrannosaurus rex was or how many Year 1 children could be squeezed into the stomach of an Ankylosaurus (an armoured plant-eating dinosaur, discussed in Everything Dinosaur’s workshop for schools).

The children could even create their own dinosaur museum to showcase their craft, hand-writing and numeracy achievements.  Having the children think about their own “Golden Rules” for the museum might also be a way of helping them to settle down within the classroom environment.  Why not invite parents, guardians and grandparents into the school at the end of term to see the children’s progress?

Dinosaur Museum – Helping Year 1 to Adjust to More Formal, Structured Working

Come see our dinosaur museum!

Come see our dinosaur museum!

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

For inspiring dinosaur themed learning resources: Dinosaur Themed Learning Resources from Everything Dinosaur

A dinosaur themed term topic can certainly help Reception children step up to the greater demands placed upon them by the Autumn Term of Year 1.

16 09, 2015

Primary School Children Ready for Dinosaur Studies

By | September 16th, 2015|Educational Activities, Main Page, Teaching|0 Comments

Year 1 at The Oaks Primary School Study Dinosaurs

A bright and well-laid out classroom environment can really make a difference when it comes to helping Reception aged children used to free flowing activities, settle into the first term of Year 1 when more structured work will be required.  This was certainly evident during Everything Dinosaur’s visit to the two classes of Year 1 pupils at The Oaks Primary School.  The classrooms were bright, spacious and a lot of care and attention had been given to helping to create inspiring wall displays to enthuse the children as they learned all about dinosaurs and life in the past.

Year 1 Classrooms with Lots of Prehistoric Animal Information

Lots of dinosaur and prehistoric animal information on hand to help inspire the children.

Lots of dinosaur and prehistoric animal information on hand to help inspire the children.

Picture Credit: The Oaks Primary/Everything Dinosaur

During the visit from one of our dinosaur experts the children demonstrated lots of knowledge, confidently naming and describing a number of dinosaurs.  One of the children’s mums also commented that her little boy had been so excited to get to school to learn all about T. rex that he insisted on reading his dinosaur book in the car!

One of the resources the teaching team were using was the set of ten fossil models, appropriately supplied by Everything Dinosaur.  These sturdy, plastic models are replicas of famous fossils and they are great for use in craft activities.  The set contains replica dinosaur skin, a dinosaur tooth model, an ammonite, trilobites, even a fossil frog!  They are really useful for helping to explain about different types of fossil and which parts of animals are likely to become preserved.

Modelling Clay Can be Used with the Ancient Fossil Set to Make Excellent Fossil Casts

Great for making casts of fossils.

Great for making casts of fossils.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view more fossil themed learning resources: Dinosaur and Fossil Themed Teaching Resources

 The enthusiastic teaching team discussed their scheme of work and they certainly have lots of hands-on activities planned for their young palaeontologists.  Class 1H even had a palaeontology laboratory in part of their classroom.  Preparing fossils can take a long time.  How long depends on the particular fossils involved, but if one of the Year 1 children was to uncover a complete Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton on their sixth birthday and work on it five days a week in the preparation laboratory, they might have finished cleaning, preparing and mounting the skeleton by the time they got to their early thirties!

The School Palaeontology Laboratory Ready for Action

Inspiring the next generation of palaeontologists.

Inspiring the next generation of palaeontologists.

Picture Credit: The Oaks Primary/Everything Dinosaur

To help bring the term topic to an exciting conclusion, the teachers, with the aid of the dedicated teaching assistants, intend to devote a small portion of each of the classrooms to a “dinosaur museum”. They plan to present samples of the children’s work in these museums and parents, guardians and other grown-ups will be invited along to have a look at the children’s discoveries and to see examples of creative writing and how the children have gained confidence with their numeracy.

All Sorts of Prehistoric Animal Information on Display

Bite-sized facts and information.

Bite-sized facts and information.

Picture Credit: The Oaks Primary/Everything Dinosaur

The classes certainly enjoyed their dinosaur workshops and they loved learning about (and handling) fossils.  Once back in the office, our dinosaur expert emailed over some more prehistoric animal themed resources to help support the school’s scheme of work, we even sent over a picture of the formidable and ferocious Tarascosaurus, for Tara, one of the teachers.  This seemed only fair as we had provided Lily and Tyler with pictures of Liliensternus and Tylosaurus respectively, all to help inspire the children to design their own dinosaur.

We look forward to seeing the results.

15 09, 2015

Out of Africa and Into Arabia

By | September 15th, 2015|Dinosaur Fans, Geology, Main Page|0 Comments

A New Look at the Spread of Modern Humans

A team of international scientists from a variety of disciplines have pooled their skills and shed light on the role of the Arabian Peninsula in the migration of our species out of Africa.  A migration that was to eventually lead to human beings (Homo sapiens) spreading to every continent on the planet.  A consequence of this exodus may have been the extinction of other types of hominins such as the Neanderthals and the Denisovans.

Although the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is very arid today and much of the country is classified as desert, back in the Pleistocene Epoch, it looked very different.  Palaeontologists have been working with archaeologists, cartographers and experts in geochronology helping to map the ancient landscape of the peninsula.  It turns out that much of Arabia was once a lush and fertile land teeming with game and with plenty of navigable rivers for our ancestors to exploit.

This the first time, such a group of technical experts have worked together to plot the palaeoenvironment of this part of the world.  It seems that the Arabian Peninsula was not just a stopping over point for human migration, but this now largely arid landscape once offered hunter/gatherers rich pickings indeed.

The head of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage, Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdulaziz explained that this new study suggests that the Arabian Peninsula had human settlements for long periods of time and that it was not just merely a transit point, as was previously thought by many anthropologists and other scientists.

He stated:

“The Arabian Peninsula has witnessed dramatic changes in climate.  In the middle Pleistocene this encouraged early man to make for the then-green peninsula as his destination.”

Green Arabia – Scientists Have Identified a Number of Ancient Lakes and River Systems

A green and pleasant land.

A green and pleasant land.

Picture Credit: Crassard et al. 2013

Two main human migration routes have been identified from Africa to Arabia.  The first was a northern route via the Nile Delta into Arabia from what was to become Egypt.  The second route is much further south and involved early humans crossing over from the horn of Africa.  The multi-disciplinary team have put together a picture of an Arabian environment that has changed much in the last few hundred thousand years.  Over 10,000 ancient lakes have been identified including a number in what is now the barren Nafud desert.  These findings are supported by fossil evidence as the palaeontologists have found the fossilised remains of hippos, elephants, shellfish and crocodiles.

Although the climate has changed over time, the researchers also identified several settled, stable periods during the Pleistocene when the climate was humid with reliable rainfall.

14 09, 2015

Wonderful Long-Necked Dinosaurs

By | September 14th, 2015|Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

In Praise of Sauropods

The Sauropoda were the heavy-weights of the Dinosauria clade.  Lizard-hipped herbivores that evolved into the biggest terrestrial animals known to science.  Not all the Sauropods were giants, some genera could even be described as relative dwarfs, for example Europasaurus and the tiny Magyarosaurus which was no bigger than a pony.  Over the last few months, we have seen the resurrection of the Brontosaurus genus and the discovery of a number of new types of Sauropodomorph such as Sefapanosaurus which was announced in June.  These are interesting times for the long-necks.

A Friendly Long-Necked Dinosaur Spotted in a Classroom

A colourful, friendly Sauropod.

A colourful, friendly Sauropod.

Picture Credit: St Margaret’s School/Everything Dinosaur

In addition, to seeing lots of very colourful (and not very anatomically accurate), Sauropods in schools, we too have been updating one or two of our Sauropod illustrations, particularly the diplodocids.

Everything Dinosaur Updates Dinosaur Drawings

An Apatosaurus dinosaur drawing.

An Apatosaurus dinosaur drawing.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The above dinosaur drawing is based on the Papo Young Apatosaurus dinosaur figure that came out earlier this year.  This illustration has been used in a number of our downloads to schools and home educationalists to help support our teaching work and other educational projects.

The Papo Young Apatosaurus Dinosaur Figure

Available from Everything Dinosaur.

Available from Everything Dinosaur.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view the range of Papo prehistoric animal models available from Everything Dinosaur: Papo Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Figures

13 09, 2015

Five Star Feedback from Teachers

By | September 13th, 2015|Educational Activities, Main Page, Teaching|0 Comments

Everything Dinosaur Workshops in Schools Receive Top Marks

September has started with a bang for team members at Everything Dinosaur.  Team members have been out on four consecutive days delivering dinosaur and fossil themed workshops in schools.  Although the Autumn Term has only just begun, it seems that lots of schools around England and Wales have kicked things off with a term topic all about prehistoric animals and fossils.  Our teaching team have worked with Reception classes, Year 1, Year 2 and delivered a workshop on adaptation and inheritance in support of the national science curriculum aimed at Year 6.  It seems we are going to have a very busy academic year.

Everything Dinosaur Helps Prepare Dinosaur Themed Teaching Resources for Year 2

Dinosaur themed resources for Year 2.

Dinosaur themed resources for Year 2.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To read more about Everything Dinosaur’s work in schools: Dinosaur Workshops in Schools

In addition to the work already carried out, our staff have been busy preparing for October’s school visits and arranging bookings for the Spring Term.  It is pleasing to note that despite our very busy schedule our high teaching standards are being maintained and we are receiving lots of lovely five star feedback from teachers and teaching assistants.

Top Marks from Teachers for Everything Dinosaur’s Workshops in Schools

Five stars for Everything Dinosaur!

Five stars for Everything Dinosaur!

Picture Credit: Exhall Grange/Everything Dinosaur

The picture above shows genuine feedback after one of our dinosaur workshops with Key Stage 2 children at a school in the East Midlands.  The company is currently averaging five stars out of five for its dinosaur workshops in schools.

Moreover, our knowledgeable dinosaur experts are able to help teachers by providing lots of ideas for extensions and other activities in support of the scheme of work.  For example, in the last few days we have supplied information on a Theropod dinosaur called Tarascosaurus to a teacher called Tara (the children loved learning about the dinosaur that had a similar name to their teacher).  Young Avie (Year 1) wanted to know all about Gorgosaurus, good job we had some pictures of Gorgosaurus fossils in our extensive photo archive and we delighted him with a download of some Gorgosaurus drawing materials.

Sending Out Information About Specific Dinosaurs to Schools

Providing information on Gorgosaurus to schools.

Providing information on Gorgosaurus to schools.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

We are expecting to receive our first batch of thank you letters and questions from school children in the next few days, all part of extension activities agreed with teachers to help encourage pupils to practice their writing, sentence composition and so forth.  Our team members read all the letters that we receive and we do our best to email over answers to questions submitted. We also strive to blog about our work with schools helping to support the teaching team with the ICT (information communication and technology) part of the new curriculum.

Time to check the fossils and other items we have prepared in readiness for teaching assignments planned for next week.

12 09, 2015

New Species of Ancient Human Described

By | September 12th, 2015|General Teaching, Key Stage 3/4|Comments Off on New Species of Ancient Human Described

Homo naledi – New species of Hominin

A team of international scientists including researchers from the University of Witwatersrand (Evolutionary Studies Institute), South Africa have announced the discovery of a new species of human – Homo naledi.  The fossils, some 1,550 of them, have been collected from a cavern deep in a limestone cave system in the Cradle of Humankind UNESCO World Heritage site.  These fossils, the largest collection of hominin fossils found at a single location in the whole of Africa, will provide palaeoanthropologists with unprecedented levels of data.

Laying Out the Collection of Homo naledi Fossils

The bones of fifteen individuals are represented.

The bones of fifteen individuals are represented.

Picture Credit: ohn Hawks/University of Wisconsin-Madison/University of Witwatersrand

Redefining What it Means to be Human

The bones were collected over a period of three weeks, following their initial discovery in 2013.  What puzzles the scientists is how did the bones get to be in the deep cave?  Bones and other debris can be washed in over time due to flooding, in this instance there is no evidence to suggest deposition of fossil material as a result of water transport.  Occasionally, such caverns are used as dens by carnivores, the bones of victims are preserved as evidence but there are no bite marks or evidence of scavenging on the bones.

One theory is that these bones represent the dead bodies of individuals who were carried into the cave and deliberately placed there.  This suggests that Homo naledi was capable of abstract thought and, potentially, showing reference for the dead.

Co-author of the scientific paper published in “Elife”, Professor Lee Berger (University of Witwatersrand) stated:

“We are going to have to contemplate some very deep things about what it is to be human.  Have we been wrong all along about this kind of behaviour that we thought was unique to modern humans?”

To read a more in-depth article on Homo nalediNew Human Species from South Africa

Dating the Fossils

Calculating the age of the fossils is proving difficult, but these bones could be up to three million years old.   Homo naledi had a brain about the size of a gorilla’s but a much smaller body, standing a little over a metre tall when fully grown.  Where it sits on the human evolution tree, very much depends on obtaining an accurate date for the fossil material.

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