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Everything Dinosaur’s work with schools and other educational bodies. Articles, features and stories about dinosaurs and their role in education and educating young people.

31 08, 2019

The Lost Kingdom of the Purbeck Group

By | August 31st, 2019|Dinosaur Fans, Educational Activities, Main Page|1 Comment

The Lost Kingdom of The Purbeck Group

Our thanks to Thomas for sending into us the third and final article that he has compiled over the summer holidays.  Thomas has chosen to feature the biota associated with the Lower Cretaceous deposits of the Purbeck Group of south-eastern England.

The Purbeck Group consists of limestone, mudstones and evaporites representing a series of freshwater, brackish and marine environments laid down in the Upper Jurassic and into the Early Cretaceous, approximately 145 to 139 million years ago.  The fossils associated with these sedimentary rocks provide evidence of changing palaeoenvironments and also of faunal turnover, including a record of different types of dinosaur.

This world is not talked about often but is very interesting for at some point during the Late Jurassic allosauroids became extinct in the British Isles only to return sometime in the Early Cretaceous (around 140-139 million years ago).  Falling sea levels are thought to have contributed to the reintroduction of these theropods to their former territory.  During their absence, tyrannosauroids evolved to fill the niche left by the allosauroids, although in the Jurassic, they were not apex predators.

Let’s Meet the Dinosaur Fauna of this Lost Kingdom

  • Nuthetes destructor – known from extremely fragmentary fossil material, possibly a dromaeosaurid or perhaps a member of the Tyrannosauroidea (Proceratosauridae?).  The size of this dinosaur is unknown, although based on measurements of the anterior portion of the partial dentary associated with this species, a length of approximately 1.6 metres has been speculated.
  • Echinodon becklesii – represented by isolated teeth, one fragmentary skull and a handful of isolated jaw bones, this dinosaur is thought to be a member of the Heterodontosauridae.  It was a relatively small dinosaur with a body length of approximately 60 centimetres.
  • Owenodon hoggii – regarded as an ornithopod and known from a badly crushed right dentary found at Durleston Bay (Dorset) in 1860.  Hind limb material from near Speeton, (Yorkshire), recovered from Berriasian-aged deposits and a single tooth from Spain have also been tentatively assigned to O. hoggii.  The size of Owenodon remains unknown but it has been suggested that it could have been around 6 metres long.  Its taxonomic position remains uncertain.  When first described in the mid 1870’s it was thought the fossils represented a type of Iguanodon.

A Life Reconstruction of the Ornithopod Owenodon hoggii

Life reconstruction Owenodon hoggii.

A reconstruction of Owenodon hoggii.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Undiagnostic Specimens

The Purbeck Limestone Group has also yielded a variety of other dinosaur fossils.   For example, a single, beautifully preserved tooth and a partial tail bone (caudal vertebra), which represent an armoured dinosaur.  These fossils lack any specific autapomorphies (distinct features or traits), they are regarded as indeterminate, although it could be speculated that these fragmentary fossils represent a member of the Nodosauridae family, possibly a member of the subfamily Polacanthinae.  A single, partial metacarpal from a sauropod has also been found.

Thrombolites – Preserved Evidence of Ancient Microbial Communities are Associated with the Purbeck Group Limestones

Thromobolite structures are associated with the Purbect Group

A thrombolite around a former tree stump (fossil forest, Lulworth, Dorset).  Preserved in the limestone – evidence of microbial communities that formed around tree stumps and other organic debris.   This photograph was probably taken at the fossil forest ledges that lie to the east of Lulworth Cove.

Picture Credit: University of Southampton

Numerous trace fossils consisting of dinosaur tracks have been identified.  Footprint fossils suggest  the presence of other types of dinosaurs such as small ornithopods within the Purbeck Group ecosystem, there is even a track-way which may have conceivably been left by the “Purbeck giant tyrannosauroid”.

The Purbeck Giant Tyrannosauroid

Dinosaur tracks (natural casts), along with a single metatarsal bone indicate the presence of large theropods.  Classifying this material has proved difficult.  It has been suggested that these trace fossils and the body fossil (single foot bone), could represent a member of the Tyrannosauroidea.  This theropod superfamily is now known to have been both geographically and temporally wild spread during the Late Jurassic and the Early Cretaceous.

Large Theropod Metatarsal (Purbeck Group)

A large metatarsal (foot bone) - the Purbeck Giant.

The “Purbeck Giant”, a single theropod metatarsal.

Picture Credit: NHM Data Portal

Evidence linking this fossil to the Maniraptora is limited.  Based on comparative studies of other theropod toe bones, it has been estimated that the “Purbeck giant” could have been around 6.7 metres long with a hip height of approximately 1.9 metres.  To put into perspective why the “Purbeck giant” can’t be a maniraptoran, comparative analysis based on the foot bones of members of the Maniraptora suggest that this toe bone represents a maniraptoran that would have measured in excess of 9 metres in length.  The fossil bone (metatarsal III), could have come from a tyrannosauroid.  Until the arrival of the carcharodontosaurids in this part of western Europe, the “Purbeck giant” was most likely the apex predator.   This specimen was collected from Durlston Bay on the Isle of Purbeck (Lulworth Formation subdivision of the Purbeck Group).

Outdated Reconstructions of the “Purbeck Giant” and Neovenator compared to a Human and Nuthetes

Purbeck Group theropods.

A scale drawing showing some of the theropods associated with the Purbeck Group.  Neovenator (grey), “Purbeck giant” light red, Nuthetes (N. destructor) dark red.  Note scale bar = 1 metre.

Picture Credit: Eotyrannu5 (Dan Folkes)

When allosauroids (carcharodontosaurids), recolonised what was to become the southern British Isles, there may have been a faunal turnover event with the carcharodontosaurids replacing members of the Tyrannosauroidea as apex and secondary predators.  The youngest strata associated with the Purbeck Group (the Durlston Formation), partly overlaps with the Ashdown Formation of the Wealden Group (both Berriasian in age).  The dinosaur fossils associated with the Ashdown Formation and the younger elements that between them form the Hastings Subgroup, represent a different dinosaur fauna than what is associated with the Purbeck Group.

Neovenator salerii – Known from the Isle of Wight (Barremian Stage)

A model of Neovenator.

“New Hunter” from the Isle of Wight – N. salerii.  Did these types of theropod dinosaur replace the Tyrannosauridea in western Europe?

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The climate at the time would have been like the Late Jurassic and it gradually became more temperate.  The fossil forest ledges, preserved east of Lulworth Cove, represent an interesting and integral part of this ecosystem.  Imagine a coastal conifer forest, now cover the floor of it in mosses and algae and dried up seaweed.  The ingress of the tides permitted bacterial colonies to form large doughnut-shaped concretions around many tree stumps, these structures, termed thromobolites, can be observed today.  Some of these circular structures are big enough for a person to sit in.

Fossils of Mammals

The sedimentary rocks associated with the Purbeck Group has also yielded fossils of many other types of vertebrate including fragmentary jaws and teeth of several types of Early Cretaceous mammal: Early Placental Mammals Identified.  It is likely that pterosaurs were present, the fossil record of flying reptiles is particularly poor, but tracks preserved in sediments that represent intertidal flats have been ascribed to the ichnogenus Purbeckopus pentadactylus and these tracks suggest the presence of large pterosaurs.

The speed in which the carcharodontosaurids outcompeted tyrannosauroids, like the “Purbeck giant”, might lead to the conclusion that carcharodontosaurids were more successful, efficient and effective predators than either the Pantyrannosauria, a recently proposed clade consisting of all those theropods related to T. rex and Dilong paradoxus but not including Proceratosaurus bradleyi and the Proceratosauridae.  Owenodon was a bit like a blend between Camptosaurus and Mantellisaurus – fast but still of decent size.  Nuthetes would have mainly hunted the mammals, reptiles, baby dinosaurs and Echinodon.

Our thanks to Thomas for sending in the information which helped us to compile this article.

To read an article published in 2018, which provides information on the discovery of sauropod tracks on the Isle of Purbeck: Dorset Dinosaur Tracks Discovered

25 08, 2019

Oxfordian Britain – The Kingdom of Metriacanthosaurus parkeri

By | August 25th, 2019|Dinosaur Fans, Educational Activities, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products|0 Comments

Oxfordian Britain – The Kingdom of Metriacanthosaurus parkeri

Our thanks once again to young Thomas who has spent part of his summer holiday compiling blog articles for Everything Dinosaur.  In this, his second piece, he focuses on the theropod fauna of the Late Jurassic of the British Isles and in particular a dinosaur known as Metriacanthosaurus parkeri, fossils of which come from Dorset.

The Oxfordian in the UK is a rather mysterious faunal stage of the Late Jurassic, especially when it comes to what was living on land at the time.  There are four described dinosaurs from this time one of which lived later in the Oxfordian than the others.  These three are the metriacanthosaurid Metriacanthosaurus parkeri at 7.5 metres long and just over 2 metres tall, the megalosaurid Eustreptospondylus oxoniensis which had a juvenile length of 5 metres and hypothesised adult length of 6 metres and the ankylosaurian Priodontognathus phillipsii which was probably, only a few metres long, maybe 2 to 3 metres long.

Approximate Size Comparisons of Late Jurassic British Theropods

Late Jurassic theropods size comparison.

Size comparison of Late Jurassic theropods.

Image credit: Eotyrannu5 (Dan Folkes)

Key

red = Juratyrant langhami

tan = Eustreptospondylus oxoniensis

blue = “Megalosaur”

green = Metriacanthosaurus parkeri

Note – scale bar = 1 metre and J. langhami and the blue “Megalosaur” are dated to approximately the same time (Late Jurassic).

Indeterminate Dinosaur Fossil Remains

Strata associated with the Oxfordian faunal stage, (early Late Jurassic), yields fragmentary, indeterminate dinosaur remains including an indeterminate sauropod found nearby to Metriacanthosaurus, a femur of a juvenile stegosaur and a large tooth from North Yorkshire belonging to a theropod, possibly metriacanthosaurid in nature.  In addition, footprints have been found indicating other types of dinosaur present and based on fossil discoveries associated with strata from geologically older and slightly younger rocks than those ascribed to the Oxfordian, it can be concluded that megalosaurine megalosaurids, tyrannosauroids and ornithopods would have lived in the Oxfordian too, we just haven’t found them yet.

A Scale Drawing of Metriacanthosaurus parkeri

Scale drawing of Metriacanthosaurus.

A scale drawing of the Theropod dinosaur Metriacanthosaurus.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The British Isles During the Late Jurassic

The ecology of the time is also mysterious.  We know for certain that the UK was separated into a series of islands, many of the islands were close enough to allow dinosaurs like Metriacanthosaurus and Eustreptospondylus to travel between them.  However to reconstruct the flora and habitat we can look back to the Callovian stage as its likely the environment wasn’t too different from then which allows for the conclusion to be drawn that the islands were semi-tropical and lush in plant life with forests located in the middle of the islands spreading outwards and ending near or in some places at the coast.  Mixed in with the forests would have been rivers, streams, small lakes, swamps, floodplains, open woodland areas closer to the coast and at the coast, estuaries, marshes, ooid beaches, bars, lagoons, coves and other coastal structures.

A Seasonal Climate

The dry season on the islands would have been long and dry with humid areas and during the wet season, the islands would have had to endure harsh tropical storms with hurricane force winds.  Plant life consisted of pollen and spore releasing plants, gymnosperms like ginkgoes, conifers and cycads, ferns, other pteridophytes along with other plants such as horsetails.  The climate would have been warm and subtropical to tropical.

Ooid Beaches – an Explanation and Metriacanthosaurus

For context, ooid beaches are where beaches are made of small, fine sand-like granules of calcium carbonate, the largest quarry in the UK (Ketton Quarry), has a portion of it that dates to just before the Oxfordian stage and might help unravel the mystery behind the Oxfordian of Britain.  Metriacanthosaurus was most likely the apex predator of the time, hunting anything from smaller theropods to perhaps the sauropod dinosaurs it coexisted with, it would have had powerful jaws with large sharp teeth and long powerful arms tipped with large hand claws for grasping prey. Metriacanthosaurus’s raised neural spinal ridge was probably used for extra back muscle attachment anchor points allowing the animal to be physically stronger than other similarly sized theropods of the time, although this assessment remains largely speculative.  Metriacanthosaurus means “moderately-spined lizard”.

The CollectA Prehistoric Life Metriacanthosaurus parkeri Dinosaur Model

The CollectA Metriacanthosaurus.

“Parker’s moderately-spined lizard”.  This dinosaur was named after its tall neural spines.

Eustreptospondylus is a rather unique megalosaur, it may have been a lot like today’s Komodo dragon frequenting many islands combing beaches, hunting down smaller animals, perhaps raiding nests of larger dinosaurs and possibly even hunting fish.  Despite Eustreptospondylus’s hypothesised adult size, it would have still been prey for the likes of Metriacanthosaurus.  A specimen of another dinosaur found from this geological time is an ankylosaur called Priodontognathus.  It was around 2 to 3 metres long and is known from Yorkshire.

Our thanks once again to Thomas for sending in his article to us.

To read the first article submitted by Thomas: The “Scunthorpe Pliosaur.”

20 06, 2019

Dinosaur Drawings and Letters from Year 2 (Great Wood Primary School)

By | June 20th, 2019|Adobe CS5, Educational Activities, Main Page, Teaching|0 Comments

Dinosaur Drawings and Letters from Year 2 (Great Wood Primary School)

Our thanks to the budding scientists at Great Wood Primary School in Morecambe (Lancashire), who sent into our offices some wonderful dinosaur illustrations and a set of beautifully written letters explaining how much they enjoyed their recent dinosaur workshop with one of our team members.  As part of our extension activity suggestions with the Year 2 classes we challenged them to design their very own prehistoric animal.  We received lots of amazing dinosaur designs.

A Selection of Letters from the Children – Some Featured Illustrations of Imaginary Prehistoric Animals

Letters from Year 2 children.

A selection of letters received from the eager young palaeontologists at Great Wood Primary School (Morecambe, Lancashire).

Picture Credit: Great Wood Primary School (Morecambe)

Writing Thank You Letters

The teachers very kindly sent in thank you letters that the children had written.  Writing a thank you letter to Everything Dinosaur is a great way for the teaching team to check learning and understanding following a recounting activity.  This letter writing exercise helps young learners practice sentence sequencing, planning their composition, as well as spelling and the layout and format of a letter.  The children can also read their letters out aloud as part of a further teaching activity within the classroom.

A Very Colourful Dinosaur Design with Lots of Wonderful Labels

Year 2 children draw dinosaurs.

A very colourful prehistoric animal produced by a Year 2 child at Great Wood Primary School (Morecambe).

Picture Credit: Great Wood Primary School (Morecambe)

Children Produced Letters and Drawings

Dinosaur drawing and letter, Year 2.

Jessica’s dinosaur drawing and letter (Year 2 at Great Wood Primary School).

Picture Credit: Great Wood Primary School (Morecambe)

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“We try to provide additional teaching resources when we visit a school to deliver a dinosaur themed workshop.  In addition, during our workshop with the class the opportunity often arises to challenge the children to produce a piece of work, such as their very own dinosaur design or to write a thank you letter.  In this way, we are providing extension ideas to the teaching team and supporting the teacher’s scheme of work.”

A Very Spiky Dinosaur Design

Dinosaur illustration from Stacey (Year 2).

Stacy chose to draw a green, armoured dinosaur with a very spiky tail.

Picture Credit: Great Wood Primary School (Morecambe)

Our thanks once again to the teaching team and the children in Year 2 at Great Wood Primary School for taking the time and trouble to send into us examples of their work.  Congratulations to you all!

Dinosaurs with Spiky Tails was a Common Characteristic Amongst the Children’s Dinosaur Designs

Dinosaur illustration (Alice in Year 2)

A colourful dinosaur drawing from Alice in Year 2 at Great Wood Primary School).

Picture Credit: Great Wood Primary School (Morecambe)

6 06, 2019

Giant Dinosaur Footprint Found in Playground

By | June 6th, 2019|Educational Activities, Main Page, Teaching|2 Comments

Giant Dinosaur Footprint Spotted at School

Pupils at Newport Infant School (Shropshire), are studying dinosaurs and prehistoric animals over the next two weeks.  The schoolchildren discovered a huge three-toed dinosaur footprint in their well-kept and spacious playground at the start of the week.  With the help of the dedicated and enthusiastic teaching team the pupils decided that the giant track must have been made by a dinosaur!

A Giant Dinosaur Footprint Discovered in the School Playground

Huge dinosaur footprint spotted at a school.

A huge dinosaur footprint spotted at a school.

Picture Credit: Newport Infant School/Everything Dinosaur

Mr Remington, the school caretaker took the precaution of sealing off that part of the playground and the children became “dinosaur detectives” as they tried to work out what kind of dinosaur had paid them a visit.  The footprint is just one of the many creative dinosaur and prehistoric animal themed activities that the staff have planned for the children.  All the school is involved from Reception to the Year 2 classes and Everything Dinosaur had been invited into the school to deliver a series of workshops with the budding young palaeontologists.

During the workshops the children demonstrated some amazing knowledge and were happy to explain about dinosaurs and to discuss dinosaur facts.  Some of the children in the Reception classes had even brought in numerous dinosaur books from home to show our dinosaur expert.

We hope the additional teaching resources and extension materials that we supplied helps to support the school’s creative and challenging scheme of work.

19 04, 2019

Preparing for a Question and Answer Session with Year 2

By | April 19th, 2019|Adobe CS5, Educational Activities, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page, Teaching|0 Comments

Preparing for a Question and Answer Session with Year 2

This week, sees the beginning of the summer term for schools in the UK.  Everything Dinosaur team members have a very congested programme of dinosaur and fossil workshops to look forward to over the next few weeks and in a few days a member of staff will be visiting a school in Lancashire to conduct a series of workshops with Year 2 classes.  As part of a busy morning of dinosaur and fossil themed activities, the teaching team have requested that we participate in a question and answer session with the budding, eager palaeontologists.  The children will, no doubt, pose some challenging and intriguing questions to our dinosaur expert, however, we have prepared a special question just for them as part of our programme of suggested extension activities.

Our question for the Key Stage 1 children (Year 2) – how did dinosaurs keep themselves clean?

Did Dinosaur Preen their Feathers just like Birds?

Mei long illustration.

Did dinosaurs preen their feathers like modern birds?  If many dinosaurs were feathered, how did they keep their feathers clean?

Outlining the Extension Activity

Fossil bones and teeth can provide palaeontologists with lots of information about extinct animals, but evidence from body fossils can’t tell us much about how animals that lived in the past behaved.  Trace fossils preserve evidence of the activity of animals, such as tracks, burrows, trails and borings.  From this data, scientists can infer behaviour such as dinosaurs moving in a herd, based on fossilised footprints indicating the same type of animals all moving at the same pace in the same direction.  However, there is very little evidence preserved in the fossil record about how extinct animals kept themselves clean.

Did Sauropod Dinosaurs Wallow in Mud Like Some Large Mammals?

How did dinosaurs keep themselves clean?

If large mammals like extant elephants wallow in mud then perhaps large Sauropod dinosaurs behaved in a similar way.

Our Challenge to the Year 2 Classes

In order to answer some of these questions about the behaviour of dinosaurs, palaeontologists examine the behaviours of animals alive today that are related to the Dinosauria.  By observing how birds and reptiles keep themselves clean, then perhaps the likely behaviours of dinosaurs can be deduced or inferred.

Can the Year 2 children conduct research into how living animals keep themselves clean?  Can they transfer this knowledge to the extinct members of the Dinosauria and suggest ways that different dinosaurs such as Apatosaurus and Tyrannosaurus rex kept clean?

Extensions

As with all our dinosaur and fossil workshops in school, we like to provide lots of extension ideas to the teaching team.

  • What can the children do to help the animals that live around the school to help them keep clean?  For example, providing a shallow tray filled with water to make a bird bath – linking to the English national curriculum science syllabus – living things and habitats.
  • Why do we need to keep clean?  Why is it important to brush our teeth?  A link to hygiene and personal development.

For further information about the dinosaur and fossil workshops conducted in schools by Everything Dinosaur team members: Email Everything Dinosaur About School Workshops

21 03, 2019

A Recipe for Dinosaur Shortbread Biscuits

By | March 21st, 2019|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur Fans, Educational Activities, Main Page, Press Releases, Teaching|0 Comments

Dinosaur Shortbread Biscuits Recipe

Here is a quick and simple recipe to make dinosaur shortbread biscuits.  Making biscuits such as these is a fun activity that young children can participate in.  These dinosaur shortbread biscuits make great treats or can be used to help with the catering for a dinosaur themed birthday party.

A Recipe for Dinosaur Shortbread Biscuits

Dinosaur shortbread biscuits recipe.

A recipe for dinosaur shortbread biscuits.  A simple biscuit recipe that is a great idea for a dinosaur themed birthday party – perfect for prehistoric party fun!

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Ingredients (Makes about Twenty Biscuits)

  • Butter or margarine 110 grammes (4oz)
  • Caster sugar 50 grammes (2oz)
  • Plain flour, sifted 175 grammes (6oz)
  • Extra caster sugar for dusting

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 150°C /300°F (Gas mark 2).  Lightly grease two baking sheets.
  2. Begin by first beating the butter (or margarine) with a wooden spoon to a soft consistency, and then beat in the sugar, followed by the sifted flour.
  3. Still using the wooden spoon, start to bring the mixture together, then finish off with your hands to form a paste.
  4. Transfer the mixture to a board lightly dusted with caster sugar, and then quickly and lightly roll it out to about 1/8 inch (3mm) thick (dusting the rolling pin with sugar if necessary).
  5. Cut the biscuits out using dinosaur biscuit cutters or, a dinosaur-shaped card that acts as a template and then arrange them on the baking sheet and bake on a highish shelf in the oven for 30 minutes.  Cool the biscuits on a wire rack, dust them with some caster sugar, and store in an airtight tin to keep them crisp.
  6. Once cooled, the biscuits can be iced and decorated to make a fun dinosaur themed snack or an ideal party food for a prehistoric animal themed party or other special occasion.

Dinosaur Biscuits – Just Out of the Oven

Dinosaur biscuits

Dinosaur biscuits cooling on a wire rack.  Once cooled, these biscuits can be decorated.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The Everything Dinosaur weblog is crammed full of helpful articles aimed at the parents, grandparents and guardians of dinosaur enthusiasts and budding, young palaeontologists.  If you search our blog using terms such as “dinosaur party”, “cake” and “biscuit”, you will discover lots of helpful articles, ideas, recipes and suggestions to assist you with dinosaur themed party planning and other fun prehistoric animal orientated activities.  Have fun!

Everything Dinosaur is a UK-based supplier of dinosaur and prehistoric animal themed models, toys and merchandise, check-out our website: Visit Everything Dinosaur

12 03, 2019

Year 5 (Jurassic World)

By | March 12th, 2019|Educational Activities, Main Page, Teaching|0 Comments

Year 5 Classes Explore Dinosaurs and Extinction

Children in Year 5 at Oasis Academy Short Heath (West Midlands), have been learning all about dinosaurs, prehistoric animals and extinction in their spring term topic.  With the help of the enthusiastic teaching team, the two classes have been studying prehistoric animals and linking this topic area to key parts of the national curriculum, such as English, mathematics, geography and science.  Recently, the children had been looking at electricity and learning about conductors.  When holding a cold fossil, heat (thermal energy), is conducted from your warm hand to the cold fossil.  The heat flows from the person to the colder object, this little exercise essentially helps to support learning about how heat is transferred and what makes a good conductor.  It links to the second law of thermodynamics helping to explain the properties of materials.

During our workshops with the class we explored the properties of fossils and what they can tell us about life in the past.

Year 5 Children Learning About Prehistoric Animals

Dinosaur poster (Year 5)

Lots of facts and information about prehistoric animals.

Picture Credit: Year 5 Oasis Academy Short Heath

English Curriculum – A Balanced Argument

Under the expert tutelage of the Year 5 teaching team there was plenty of evidence in support of cross-curricular activities on display in the spacious and tidy classrooms.  The Everything Dinosaur team member who visited the school to deliver the dinosaur and fossil workshops, spotted some super science posters that the children had prepared and during the workshop, the idea of bringing back the extinct Woolly Mammoth (M. primigenius) was proposed.  Would it be a good idea to make an animal  de-extinct?  This links with an aspect of the English curriculum, introducing the idea of a balanced argument.  Could the class debate the advantages and disadvantages of introducing a genetically modified elephant breeding programme to create shaggy coated elephants?

How to Clone a Mammoth – Linking to a Balanced Argument Exploring Pros and Cons

The science behind de-extinction.

The science of de-extinction by Beth Shapiro.  A recipe book for bringing back extinct animals.

Picture Credit: Princeton Press

Art and Design Dinosaurs

Many of the children had been inspired to create their very own dinosaur themed pieces of art.  There were some wonderful examples of prehistoric animal models on display in the classrooms.  Toni had created her very own blue and pink dinosaur egg, which when carefully opened revealed a baby Triceratops inside.  The children studied Triceratops (T. horridus) and had a go at scientific working to see if they could come up with a theory as to why palaeontologists have skull bones of this horned dinosaur but few examples of limb bones to study.

Lots of Beautiful Dinosaur Themed Artworks on Display

Year 5 and a beatuiful dinosaur egg.

A beautiful blue and pink dinosaur egg on display.

Picture Credit: Toni (Year 5 Oasis Academy Short Heath)

The class were intrigued to hear that recent research by scientists had led to the idea that dinosaur eggs may have been coloured and not just plain white or cream.  German scientists had studied the eggs of a little dinosaur from China and found evidence of the remains of pigments within the fossil eggshell, one of the pigments identified would have given the dinosaur eggs a bluish colour.  The colour scheme chosen by Toni for her Triceratops egg is therefore highly appropriate.

Some Very Large Dinosaur Models on Display

Oasis Academy (Short Heath) Year 5 and their dinosaur themed crafts.

Year 5 children at Oasis Academy Short Heath get creative during their term topic about dinosaurs.

 

Picture Credit: Year 5 Oasis Academy Short Heath

We hope the extension ideas and suggestions we provided help with the teaching scheme of work as the budding young palaeontologists explore themes such as evolution and extinction over the rest of the term.  The children certainly enjoyed the workshops and challenged their visitor with some amazing questions that they had prepared.

9 03, 2019

The CollectA Rearing Diplodocus – Demonstrates Niche Partitioning

By | March 9th, 2019|Dinosaur Fans, Educational Activities, Everything Dinosaur Products, Everything Dinosaur videos, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products, Teaching|0 Comments

The CollectA Rearing Diplodocus – Niche Partitioning

The beautifully sculpted and skilfully painted CollectA rearing Diplodocus dinosaur model helps us to demonstrate a concept called niche partitioning.  The term niche partitioning is used by ecologists to explain how organisms use the resources in an environment differently to avoid competition and therefore, by doing this, they can all co-exist.  Diplodocus is known to have co-existed with several other long-necked dinosaurs in the Late Jurassic, but they were able to share the same environment as they very probably fed on different types of vegetation.  They were probably not directly competing with each other for resources.

The CollectA rearing Diplodocus can be posed in a rearing position, as if it is reaching high into the upper canopy of a forest in order to reach the leaves and branches at the very top of the trees that other dinosaurs could not reach.  We created a short video (45 seconds), that demonstrates how the CollectA Diplodocus can be balanced to demonstrate niche partitioning.

The CollectA Diplodocus Demonstrates Niche Partitioning in the Sauropoda

Video Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Providing a Challenge to Schoolchildren During a Dinosaur Workshop

When Everything Dinosaur team members visit schools, we explain this concept using dinosaurs as an example and then challenge the class to think of examples of niche partitioning within modern ecosystems.  This helps reinforce understanding about food chains/food webs and how ecosystems are constructed.  It also helps to demonstrate an important principle in palaeontology, the idea that we use comparisons from living creatures and environments today to help us understand life in the ancient past.

A Sauropod Dinosaur Rears Up

A long-necked dinosaur rears up.

A rearing Sauropod.  As well as reaching food, the ability to rear could have had a secondary function as a defensive response to an attack from a predator.

Picture Credit: M. V. Eashwar

Niche Partitioning

Many types of extant herbivorous animal, normally quadrupedal, are able to rear up onto their hind legs in order to reach food that otherwise they would not be able to access.  As an extension to this exercise in schools, we ask the pupils to construct food webs to reflect how the chosen ecosystem functions.

A Gerenuk Antelope Feeding

A Gerenuk antelope.

A South African antelope a Gerenuk rears up to reach foliage.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Our team members have posted up numerous articles exploring this topic area on this blog.

To read an article about niche partitioning within Jurassic marine environments: Marine Reptile Teeth Tell the Tale of Changing Seas

An examination of why the Cretaceous of northern Africa seems to have had large numbers of super-sized predators: Why so Many Large Predators in Cretaceous Africa?

The CollectA Rearing Diplodocus Dinosaur Model

CollectA have included several Sauropod figures within their “Prehistoric Life” model range.  The CollectA rearing Diplodocus model is one of the larger figures within this not-to-scale range, with a rearing height of approximately 23 centimetres.

The CollectA Diplodocus Dinosaur Model

CollectA rearing Diplodocus dinosaur figure.

The CollectA rearing Diplodocus dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view the CollectA rearing Diplodocus and the other CollectA models available from Everything Dinosaur: The CollectA Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Model range

8 03, 2019

Celebrating International Women’s Day

By | March 8th, 2019|Educational Activities, Main Page, Photos/Schools, Press Releases, Teaching|0 Comments

Celebrating International Women’s Day

Today, March 8th is International Women’s Day, an annual event that has its origins in the early part of the 20th century.  Over the last few years, with women’s rights and inequality issues gaining much greater media attention, this day has provided an opportunity to highlight the many challenging issues and barriers women face, for team members at Everything Dinosaur, it allows us a platform to celebrate and commemorate the huge contribution women have made and continue to make to science.

Spotted in a London Primary School – Inspiring the Next Generation of Scientists

School poster acknowledges the role of women in science.

Celebrating the role of women in science.

Picture Credit: Ilderton Primary/Everything Dinosaur

The theme for International Women’s Day 2019 is: “Think equal, build smart, innovate for change”.  International Women’s Day has become an important date in the international calendar as it provides an opportunity to focus on the achievement of women and amongst other things to celebrate the role women play in the advancement of human knowledge and their contribution to society.  It also provides a focal point to address gender inequality.

When team members visit schools, we provide information to help the teachers to identify suitable role models for the children to learn about.  We have been lucky to have worked with some amazing scientists from all over the world and we can provide lots and lots of examples supporting the cause of gender equality in science, after all, the word scientist does not distinguish between male and female.

We Try and Breakdown Stereotypical Views about a Career in the Sciences

Developing scientists in schools.

Developing the next generation of scientists.  Helping to break down gender stereotypes.

Picture Credit: Lego

Celebrating the Life and Work of Mary Anning

One of the role models we suggest is Mary Anning (1799-1847).  This famous fossil hunter from Dorset and her story has become synonymous with elements of the national curriculum for schools (primary school level).  When we visit schools, we provide lots of additional teaching resources and we often challenge the class to research and write about Mary Anning (independent learning and non-chronological reporting).

A Challenge to a Key Stage 1 Class – Ten Questions About Mary Anning

Mary Anning Non-chronological report.

A non-chronological report exercise based on the life and work of Mary Anning.  Helping to promote the role of women in science.

Picture Credit: Mary Anning

Tomorrow, March 9th, is the anniversary of the death of Mary Anning, at just 47 years of age.  As well as working with Key Stage 1 children exploring the fossils that Mary Anning found and her role in helping to improve our understanding of prehistoric life, when working with older children in Upper Key Stage 2, we introduce other issues that are reflected in the life and work of the famous fossil hunter.  For example, in Georgian and early Victorian times, the academic world largely shunned the idea of women making a contribution to scientific enquiry.  During her lifetime, Mary Anning received little credit and very little reward for her efforts.  These days, we live in somewhat more enlightened times, although many might argue that there is still a long way to go before true equality is achieved.

When working with Year 5 and Year 6 students we explore how other scientists treated Mary and her endeavours.  She was not permitted to join the Geological Society of London, being a woman, this was forbidden and many of her male contemporaries not only refused to give her credit for her discoveries and insights, they actually took much of the credit for themselves.  Sadly, Mary died all too soon having spent much of her life in abject poverty.  When Everything Dinosaur team members visit Lyme Regis, where Mary was born, we make a pilgrimage to her grave at St Michael’s church and pay our respects.

Mary Anning’s Grave at Lyme Regis She is Buried Alongside Her Brother Joseph

Mary and Joseph Anning are buried here.

The grave of Mary and Joseph Anning.  It has become the custom to leave a fossil at the grave as a tribute to Mary’s contribution to science.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The Royal Society Acknowledges Mary Anning

In 2010, the Royal Society published a list of the top ten British women who had most influenced the history of science.  Mary Anning was included in this list.  Much has changed in terms of gender equality in the sciences, however, despite the Royal Society having its roots in the early 1660’s, it is worth remembering that the first female Fellow was not elected until 1945 (we think).

Another female scientist included in the Royal Society list was the chemist, biologist and physicist Rosalind Franklin.  Rosalind was an outstanding polymath who made an enormous contribution to our understanding of DNA and RNA and pioneered X-ray crystallography (XRC).  Rosalind Franklin is commemorated on the poster we spotted in the primary school.

Rosalind Franklin is Featured on the School Poster Praising the Contribution of Women in Science

Highlighting the work of Rosalind Franklin.

The work of Rosalind Franklin is highlighted.

Picture Credit: Ilderton Primary/Everything Dinosaur

22 01, 2019

Dinosaurs with Foundation Stage Children

By | January 22nd, 2019|Educational Activities, Main Page, Teaching|0 Comments

Dinosaurs with Foundation Stage Children

Over the last few days, the teaching team at Everything Dinosaur have been out and about visiting lots of schools to work with Foundation Stage children.  We have met some very enthusiastic and eager young palaeontologists and conducted several workshops with Reception and Nursery classes.  We have seen fossils, dinosaur drawings, prehistoric animal skeletons made from pasta shapes and even a few flying reptiles dangling from a classroom ceiling.  One class of Nursery children (Foundation Stage 1), have been helping “Trudy the Triceratops” build a nest and each weekend one of the children gets to take “Trudy” home and to look after the dinosaur for a couple of days.

“Trudy the Triceratops” – Helping with a Dinosaur Term Topic with a Nursery Class

Triceratops soft toy.

A soft toy Triceratops like “Trudy the Triceratops”.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Trudy loves adventures and she will have a diary with her so that parents and children can record what Trudy gets up to whilst she is away from the school.  On the Monday, following Trudy’s visit, the child will be given the opportunity to tell the class what Trudy has been up to over the weekend.

Explaining about Trudy’s adventures will help improve the children’s communication skills and help develop confidence.

Labelling a Triceratops

To help support the teaching team’s scheme of work we provide extra resources and teaching materials.  At one school we learned that the Nursery class teacher had a favourite dinosaur.  It was Triceratops, so we sent an illustration of what palaeontologists think Triceratops actually looked like.  We suggested that if the teacher blanked out our labels, then the children could write in their own labels and name the various parts of the body.

Can You Label a Dinosaur?

Labelling a Triceratops.

Can you label a dinosaur?

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Can the children label the dinosaur?  A good exercise in helping with vocabulary development and writing, some words might be spelt correctly whilst others could be phonetically plausible.

Hatching Dinosaur Eggs

During our visits we saw lots of dinosaur eggs and nests.  We suggested that an extension activity to accompany the discovery of a dinosaur egg in the classroom would be to challenge the children to think of materials that might help to keep the egg safe and warm.  What sort of materials should we use to make a nest for a dinosaur?  This activity supports the concept of learning through play and exploration.  The children can look at the properties of materials and think through their own ideas, making links between ideas and developing strategies for achieving outcomes.

A Dinosaur Egg About to Hatch in a Reception Classroom

A dinosaur egg is about to hatch.

A hatching dinosaur egg spotted in a Foundation Stage (Reception) classroom.

Picture Credit: Lum Head Primary/Everything Dinosaur

The children in the Reception class at Lum Head Primary had decided to wrap their dinosaur egg in a blanket to help keep the egg safe and warm.  A dinosaur had been added by the children to help keep the baby dinosaur company when it hatched.

For information about Everything Dinosaur’s work in schools: Email us to find out more about our dinosaur workshops

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