All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
23 01, 2019

Nursery Class Make Fossils

By | January 23rd, 2019|Early Years Foundation Reception|Comments Off on Nursery Class Make Fossils

Nursery Class Make Fossils

The children in the Nursery Class at Hilton Lane Primary (Worsley, Manchester), are learning all about dinosaurs and fossils along with the Reception-aged children at this “good school” as officially rated by Ofsted.  One of Everything Dinosaur’s experts was invited along to meet the children and following a workshop with the Reception class in the school’s spacious and well-appointed hall, he was invited to visit the Nursery located on nearby Prescott street.  The Nursery class were keen to show their visitor the clay fossils that they had made.

The Nursery Class at Hilton Lane Primary School Have Been Busy Making Fossils

Nursery class create fossils.

The Nursery class at Hilton Lane Primary have made clay fossils.

Picture Credit: Hilton Lane Primary (Nursery Class)/Everything Dinosaur

Exploring Materials

Under the expert tutelage of Miss Bolton and with the support of the teaching assistant Miss Wall, the enthusiastic, young palaeontologists were keen to show what they had made.  Making clay fossils is a great way for the children to learn about the properties of materials.  This exercise forms part of a diverse and challenging scheme of work that the teaching team had prepared.  In the recent Ofsted report the quality of the teaching was described as “consistently good” and the progress made by the pupils was commented upon.  The Ofsted report also highlighted the careful planning conducted by the teaching team.  Teachers know in detail what pupils already know and can do, they take this into account when devising their lessons.

Clay Fossils Created by the Nursery Class

Clay fossils on display.

Questions asked by the children and their statements formed part of the clay fossil display.

Picture Credit: Hilton Lane Primary (Nursery Class)/Everything Dinosaur

Confident Learners, Attentive Listeners and Lots of Pre-knowledge

The children confidently explained about herbivores and carnivores and enjoyed handling the dinosaur plant food that had been brought along.  Fossils felt cold and they were very hard, just like a stone.  They were as hard as the hard hat that one of the children wore when the clothing of a palaeontologist was explored.  The Nursery children have their very own soft toy Triceratops to look after.  She is called Trudy and we think Trudy would be most impressed by the knowledge about dinosaurs demonstrated by the children.

Looks like the Foundation Stage classes at Hilton Lane Primary are going to have a great time learning all about dinosaurs this term.

23 01, 2019

Prehistoric Shark Named after Video Game

By | January 23rd, 2019|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Galagadon nordquistae – Shark Resident of Hell Creek

Perhaps the most famous exhibit at the Field Museum (Chicago), is the Tyrannosaurus rex specimen named “Sue”, the most complete T. rex fossil discovered to date.  A great deal of research has been carried out on the 66 million-year-old fossilised bones of this giant, meat-eating Theropod that measures over twelve metres in length.  However, the matrix that surrounded the fossil material has helped to shed light on another resident of the famous Hell Creek Formation of South Dakota.  Fossil teeth found in the matrix surrounding the bones of the most famous T. rex in the world has led to the naming and description of a prehistoric shark that lived in freshwater, say hello to Galagadon nordquistae.

A Life Reconstruction of the Late Cretaceous Shark G. nordquistae

Galagadon nordquistae life reconstruction.

A life reconstruction of the Late Cretaceous shark Galagadon nordquistae.

Picture Credit: Velizar Simeonovski (Field Museum)

A Small, Freshwater Predator

Ever since the preparation work on “Sue” began in the 1990’s, the leftover sediment (matrix), was carefully stored at the Field Museum.  Researchers examined this material searching for micro-fossils in a bid to build up a picture of what life was like in this part of Laramidia towards the end of the age of dinosaurs.  Teeth were found from a shark which would have measured around half a metre in length.

Peter Makovicky (Curator of Dinosaurs at the Field Museum) commented:

“This shark lived at the same as Sue the T. rex, it was part of the same world.  Most of its body wasn’t preserved, because sharks’ skeletons are made of cartilage, but we were able to find its tiny fossilised teeth.”

The shark, named Galagadon nordquistae, is described in a scientific paper published in the “Journal of Palaeontology”.

Named After a 1980s Video Game

Lead author of the research, Terry Gates (North Carolina State University), explained that the shark’s name was inspired by the stepped, triangular shape of the teeth that reminded the research team of the spaceships in the 1980’s video game Galaga.  The species epithet honours Field Museum volunteer Karen Nordquist who discovered the fossilised teeth in the matrix material.

Fossil Teeth Reminded the Scientists of Video Game Spaceships

Galagadon fossil teeth.

Specimens of shark teeth (lingual view) assigned to Galagadon.  Scale bars = 1 mm.

Picture Credit: Terry Gates (North Carolina State University)/Journal of Paleontology

Commentating on her fossil find, Nordquist stated:

“It [a tooth] was so tiny, you could miss it if you weren’t looking really carefully.  To the naked eye, it just looks like a little bump, you have to have a microscope to get a good view of it.”

Tiny Teeth Change our View of the Prehistoric Environment

The tiny teeth are only about a millimetre wide, about the size of a pinhead.  Galagadon was small too, estimated at around thirty to sixty centimetres in length.

Dr Makovicky added:

“Galagadon was less than two feet long, it’s not exactly Jaws.  It’s comparable to bamboo sharks living today.  It probably had a flat face and was very likely camouflage-coloured, since its relatives today have a camouflage pattern.  It would have eaten small invertebrates and probably spent a fair amount of time lying on the bottom of the riverbed.”

Galagadon may not have been huge, but its discovery has forced scientists into a re-think over what they thought they knew about the area where the T. rex named “Sue” was found.  It had been thought that the fossil locality represented a lake formed from a partially dried-up river, the presence of a shark suggests there must have been at least some connection to the sea.

The shark has been classified as a member of the Orectolobiformes Order of sharks, making it distantly related to extant carpet sharks including bamboo sharks.  These types of shark are believed to have originated in the Jurassic and had a global distribution, today they are mostly restricted to waters in southeast Asia and Australia.

Co-author of the study, Eric Gorscak (Field Museum) explained:

“It’s surprising to find their fossils at the Sue locality.  During the Late Cretaceous, the continents continued to drift apart, further isolating dinosaurs and other land animals, and at the same time created the Atlantic and Indian oceans.  With occasional seaways connecting these young oceans, we have found fossils of marine life flourishing globally, including Galagadon and its relatives.”

Various Views of the Galagadon Teeth

Views of Galagadon teeth.

Galagadon teeth. Specimens in lingual view (1–4), labial view (5–8), lateral view (9–12), basal view (13–16), and occlusal view (17–20). Scale bars = 1 mm.

Picture Credit: Terry Gates (North Carolina State University)/Journal of Paleontology

Hell Creek – More than Flashy Dinosaurs

The study also reflects the importance of learning about fossils beyond big, flashy dinosaurs.  Each species discovered helps to build up a picture of the ecosystem in which the dinosaurs and other megafauna existed.

Karen Nordquist added:

“Most people, when they think of fossils, think of big huge dinosaur bones, but in the dirt, there are the bones of tiny animals.  When you get those bones and identify them, you get an idea of the whole environment, everything that lived with the big dinosaurs.  You learn so much from micro-sorting.”

The scientific paper: “New Sharks and Other Chondrichthyans from the Latest Maastrichtian (Late Cretaceous) of North America” by Terry A. Gates, Eric Gorscak and Peter J. Makovicky published in the Journal of Paleontology.

Everything Dinosaur acknowledges the help of a press release from the Field Museum (Chicago), in the compilation of this article.

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