All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
1 07, 2016

Pterosaur Fossil to Return Home to Lebanon

By | July 1st, 2016|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

Pterosaur Fossil Set to Fly Home

A new species of Pterosaur is due to be named shortly, one based on an almost complete fossil specimen that was discovered in a limestone quarry in Lebanon.  Pterosaur remains from this part of the world are exceptionally rare and this would constitute only the second Pterosaur to be named from a Lebanese fossil discovery.  The first Pterosaur from this part of the Middle East (Microtuban altivolans) was described in 2011.  Like this new species, Microtuban was most likely an inhabitant of the isolated islands that were dotted around a vast, but ultimately shrinking Tethys Ocean that covered this part of the world for much of the Cretaceous.

University of Alberta Scientists Helped to Prepare the Lebanese Specimen for Further Study

Rare Pterosaur fossil to be returned to Lebanon.

Michael Caldwell (left) and Phil Currie with the new Pterosaur prior to its return to Lebanon.

Picture Credit: University of Alberta

The Pterosaur fossil was discovered in a privately owned limestone quarry more than ten years ago.  The limestone is well-known for its fish fossils, but other vertebrate fossils are exceptionally rare.  The palaeoenvironment of the Middle East during the Late Cretaceous was similar to the marine environment found off the coast of Queensland, Australia, where the Great Barrier Reef can be found.  Today, the Mediterranean Sea is the only remnant of the once great Tethys Ocean that remains.   University of Alberta palaeontologist Michael Caldwell teamed up with colleague Phil Currie to organise the preparation and cleaning of the fossil, after it was sent to the museum by the quarry owner.  A great deal of care was needed to help expose the delicate, hollow bones from the surrounding limestone matrix.  The fossil was extremely fragile and broken into several pieces when it was discovered as a limestone block was cut.  The Pterosaur even received a fracture to its skull from the pickaxe of a quarry worker as the rock was split.  The University of Alberta prep team under the supervision of Professor Caldwell were able to stabilise the fossil and skilfully reveal the 95-million-year-old flying reptile in all its exquisite detail.

Commenting on the importance of this Lebanese Pterosaur, Professor Caldwell stated:

“This is the first complete Pterosaur from Lebanon and the very first Pterosaur from this age of marine-deposited rocks.”

The as yet, unnamed Pterosaur lived during the Cenomanian faunal stage of the Late Cretaceous.  The rocks laid down form a sequence of sedimentary strata that mark the oldest rocks classified as Upper Cretaceous deposits.  At the time sea levels were changing and the Tethys was vast, stretching from Europe all the way to south-eastern Asia.

Professor Caldwell said:

“That chunk of ocean was huge, think ten or twenty times the size of the Great Barrier Reef and chock-full of living things.  I’m sure our little Pterosaur was living on one of the reef islands.”

The Specimen as it Arrived at the University of Lebanon for Preparation

Unnamed species of Pterosaur from Lebanon.

The unprepared fossil as it arrived at the University of Alberta.

Picture Credit: University of Alberta

Donated to the Mineralogy Museum at Saint Joseph’s University in Beirut

The specimen was subsequently sold but the buyer has donated it to the Mineralogy Museum at Saint Joseph’s University (Beirut).  The fossil Pterosaur will, in effect, be returning home to Lebanon.  Commenting on the preparation work undertaken at the University, Professor Caldwell stated:

“It is in immaculate condition as a result of a lot of delicate preparation work.  We can really see how this animal was built.  It’s a nice little piece of science and a great story about rescuing this specimen from certain doom.”

The University of Alberta palaeontologists teamed up with Pterosaur specialist Alexander Kellner (National Museum of Brazil) and Italian Fabio Dalla Vecchia, a paper describing the Pterosaur is due to be published soon.  It may have taken the best part of ten years to prepare the specimen but at least it is returning to its country of origin where it will form the centrepiece of the vertebrate fossil collection of the Mineralogy Museum.

Everything Dinosaur acknowledges the help of the University of Alberta in the compilation of this article.

1 07, 2016

Dragons and Dinosaurs in Wales

By | July 1st, 2016|General Teaching, Key Stage 1/2|Comments Off on Dragons and Dinosaurs in Wales

A Visit to a Welsh School to Teach About Dinosaurs

As the summer term progresses, so Everything Dinosaur team members continue to fulfil their commitments to schools across the country.  Lots of dinosaur and fossil themed workshops have been delivered by our enthusiastic team members so far this term, our most recent involved a trip to Wales to work with the children at Forden Church in Wales School.  As part of a series of extension activities we had planned in support of the teachers, we asked the mixed Year 3 and Year 4 class to have a go at writing letters to us about dinosaurs.  We challenged the budding young palaeontologists to send in questions about prehistoric animals.

One of the Letters from the Year 3/4 Class at the School

Children ask questions about the teeth of dinosaurs.

Ffion wanted to know about dinosaur teeth.

Picture Credit: Forden Church of Wales Primary School/Everything Dinosaur

We received lots of letters and there were some excellent examples of handwriting.  Well done to class Year 3/4.  We emailed over our answers to the teacher and provided other links and resources to help the children to research the answers to some of the questions that they had posed.

To contact Everything Dinosaur to enquire about a school visit from one of our dinosaur and fossil experts: Contact Everything Dinosaur about a School Visit

Dan wrote in and like most of the children, he illustrated his dinosaur themed letter with a drawing.

Answering Questions Posed by Dan (Forden Church in Wales School)

Asking questions about dinosaurs.

Dan wrote in asking questions about prehistoric animals.

Picture Credit: Forden Church of Wales Primary School/Everything Dinosaur

Dan wanted to know the name of the prehistoric animal that he had drawn for us.  We think it is a drawing of a turtle, not a dinosaur but a reptile, an animal that would have used its powerful flippers for swimming.

Dan Wanted to Know What Type of Animal is This?

A drawing of a prehistoric sea turtle.

Could be a drawing of Archelon (giant turtle).

Picture Credit: Forden Church of Wales Primary School/Everything Dinosaur

It’s a super drawing.  It reminds of us a giant prehistoric sea turtle called Archelon, fossils of which come from the United States.  This turtle was more than four metres long.

The teacher emailed Everything Dinosaur to say:

“Once again a big thank you from all of us at Forden School.  Thank you for answering the children’s questions, I will print them out for them tomorrow and they can read your answers.  We are going to start our ‘design a dinosaur’ challenge tomorrow and I will send  you a selection of our dinosaur designs.  Thank you again for a fabulous morning.”

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