All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
12 10, 2017

Dinosaur Drawings from Galley Common Infants

By | October 12th, 2017|Key Stage 1/2|Comments Off on Dinosaur Drawings from Galley Common Infants

Dinosaur Drawings from Galley Common Infants School

This week, a team member from Everything Dinosaur visited Galley Common Infants School near Nuneaton to conduct a series of dinosaur and fossil themed workshops in support of the Key Stage 1 term topic.  Working with classes 3, 4, 5 and 6 our dinosaur expert met a lot of eager and excited young palaeontologists.  One child even brought in a fossil!  Perhaps, this fossil could be put on display in one of the classrooms as part of an exhibition of the children’s work on the term topic.

Inspired by Mary Anning

The dedicated teaching team had produced a varied scheme of work that included lesson plans about the life and work of Mary Anning.  The tongue-twister we provided as part of a series of extension resources was well received, as was our idea about developing an experiment to explore why asteroids always land in craters?  A tray of flour, some marbles and a cricket ball are all the resources required to give KS1 children the chance to have a go making predictions and at working out what makes a fair test.  This is a fun experiment that helps to reinforce learning about the extinction of the dinosaurs. The children certainly demonstrated lots of knowledge and our thanks to Noah who gave our expert a lovely drawing of an ammonite, having been inspired by the seashells that Mary Anning found.

The Drawing of an Ammonite by Noah

An ammonite drawing by Noah.

Galley Common Infant School pupils draw ammonites.

Picture Credit: Noah/Galley Common Infants School

Setting Extensions During the Workshops

When working with the four classes, the Everything Dinosaur team member set a number of challenges for the children.  One of these challenges involved designing their very own dinosaur.  Could they label their dinosaur’s body parts including the skull?  Well done to Noah for labelling up his ammonite drawing and for correctly identifying that big ammonites were carnivores.  Noah and his friends were fascinated by the spiral shells of these marine creatures and they enjoyed handling the fossils, even the very heavy ones!

A Drawing of a Brachiosaurus (Herbivorous Dinosaur)

Brachiosaurus illustrated.

Brachiosaurus drawing – Galley Common Infants School.

Picture Credit: Galley Common Infants School

Bringing Dinosaurs to Life

Scientists and artists have always worked together to create illustrations of long extinct creatures.  Illustrating fossil finds would have been something that Mary Anning was very familiar with.  This talented fossil hunter with very little formal education, taught herself scientific illustration.  During our visit, the children showed us books about fossils and fossil collecting that they had compiled and we were given some drawings, such as the beautiful Brachiosaurus drawing (above), to take home.  The little boy who gave us the Brachiosaurus picture also drew a Spinosaurus.  He explained that Spinosaurus was a carnivore and that this was his favourite dinosaur.  For a few minutes in between workshops, our school visitor was able to talk to the children who had created the books and drawings.  The teaching assistant was most impressed when the children could identify which prehistoric animals were carnivores and which ones were herbivores.

A Drawing of Spinosaurus

A Spinosaurus drawing.

Galley Common Infants School – Spinosaurus drawing.

Picture Credit: Galley Common Infants School

12 10, 2017

Reaffirming Protoichthyosaurus as a Valid Genus

By | October 12th, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

The Muddy Water Surrounding Protoichthyosaurus and Ichthyosaurus Just Got a Little Clearer

A type of British Ichthyosaur, first identified nearly forty years ago, but then dismissed as a distinct genus, has been re-examined and found to be a new type of marine reptile after all.  British palaeontologist Dr Robert Appleby, in 1979, conducted a review of Ichthyosaur fossil material found around the UK and announced a news species which he named Protoichthyosaurus.  Two separate species were assigned to this genus P. prostaxalis and P. prosostealis.  Erecting this genus with its two component species proved controversial and a number of other scientists have dismissed this assessment, reassigning the fossil material to the Ichthyosaurus genus.

One of the Fossil Specimens from the 1979 Marine Reptile Study

Protoichthyosaurus fossil material.

One of the original skeletons of Protoichthyosaurus described by Robert Appleby in 1979.

Picture Credit: National Museum of Wales/Dean Lomax

A detailed study which involved making comparisons between Protoichthyosaurus and Ichthyosaurus by Dean Lomax, (Manchester University), Rashmi Mistry (University of Reading) and Professor Judy Massare (State University of New York), published in the “Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology” has established Protoichthyosaurus as a separate genus once again.

The researchers found major differences in the number of bones in the front fin, or forefin, of both species.  The team posit that this fundamental difference in anatomy probably reflects the way both species used their forefins to manoeuvre whilst swimming.  Differences were also found in the skulls.

Scientists Studying the Fossil Material

A Protoichthyosaurus fossil is studied by palaeontologists.

Bill Wahl, Prof. Judy Massare, Dr David Large and Dean Lomax study the fossil.

Picture Credit: University of Nottingham

Fin Grabs Attention

During this research, another discovery about the fins was made, palaeontologist Dean Lomax explained:

“This unusual forefin structure was originally identified by Robert Appleby in 1979, but some of the historic specimens he examined had been ‘faked’, and this fakery had been missed until now.  In some instances, an isolated fin of an Ichthyosaurus had been added to a Protoichthyosaurus skeleton to make it appear more complete, which led to the genuine differences being missed.  This has been a major problem because it stopped science from progressing.  We also found some pathological fins, including Ichthyosaurus fins with pathologies that mimic the Protoichthyosaurus forefin structure”.

Dean and Judy teamed up with former undergraduate student Rashmi Mistry, who had been studying an unusual Ichthyosaur in the collections of the Cole Museum of Zoology, (University of Reading), as she prepared her undergraduate dissertation.

Rashmi added:

“Whilst doing my dissertation in 2016, I studied several Ichthyosaurs in the collections, including a very small skeleton.  It had an unusual forefin that matched Protoichthyosaurus, which I understood to be a widely unrecognised genus.  However, when I contacted Dean, he was very excited.  He told me that this little skeleton is the only known small juvenile Protoichthyosaurus.”

The Juvenile Protoichthyosaurus Specimen

Protoichthyosaurus (juvenile).

The juvenile Protoichthyosaurus fossil.

Picture Credit: University of Reading

More Than Twenty Specimens of Protoichthyosaurus Identified

As a result of this extensive study, more than twenty specimens of Protoichthyosaurus have been identified.  This is highly significant as each specimen (with a forefin) has the same structure.  The specimens all date from the early Jurassic geological period (200-190 million years ago) and they are geographically dispersed with specimens reported from Dorset, Somerset, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire, Warwickshire and Glamorgan (Wales)

Links with the Dinosaurs of China Exhibition

As part of his research, Dean examined a nearly complete skeleton which is part of the vertebrate collection at the museum of Nottingham.  This specimen turned out to be different from all the other known examples of Protoichthyosaurus (autapomorphies concerning the cranium and the shape of the humeri).  A new species of Protoichthyosaurus has been erected, it has been named  Protoichthyosaurus applebyi, in honour of Dr Appleby and in recognition of his work some forty years ago that established the Protoichthyosaurus genus in the first place.

The Protoichthyosaurus applebyi Specimen

Protoichthyosaurus applebyi fossil specimen.

Protoichthyosaurus applebyi fossil.

The fossil specimen is currently on display at the Nottingham Lakeside Arts centre, as part of the “Dinosaurs of China” exhibition.  If you want to catch this marine reptile and take in all the beautiful feathered dinosaurs in this exhibition, you had better hurry, “Dinosaurs of China” closes at the end of the month.

Everything Dinosaur Team Members Viewed the Specimen at the “Dinosaurs of China” Exhibition

Protoichthyosaurus applebyi

The Nottingham Ichthyosaur (P. applebyi).

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The scientific paper: “The Taxonomic Utility of Forefin Morphology in Lower Jurassic Ichthyosaurs: Protoichthyosaurus and Ichthyosaurus” by Lomax, D. R., Massare, J. A. and Mistry, R.  Published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.

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