All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
/Teaching

Everything Dinosaur team members working in schools, helping museums and other educational bodies. Our work with and in schools.

13 02, 2021

Providing Data on Baryonyx

By | February 13th, 2021|Dinosaur Fans, Educational Activities, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products, Teaching|0 Comments

Producing a Display Board About Baryonyx

Our project work continues despite the lockdown (COVID-19).  For example, in anticipation of outdoor events and exhibitions in the UK starting up again in the summer of 2021 an events company has requested the assistance of Everything Dinosaur team members to help them provide suitable dinosaur-themed data for a series of prehistoric animal display boards being prepared for an exhibition.

One of the theropods we have been asked to help with is Baryonyx (B. walkeri), the first fossils of which were brought to the attention of science back in 1983.  This dinosaur was formally described in 1986 (Charig and Milner).

A Model of the Theropod Dinosaur Baryonyx (B. walkeri)

CollectA Baryonyx dinosaur model.

The CollectA Deluxe 1:40 scale Baryonyx dinosaur model, photographed outside.  A recently introduced model of Baryonyx with a human figure providing an approximate scale.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Information for the Display Board

Name: Baryonyx (B. walkeri).
Means: Heavy Claw.
Period: Early Cretaceous, about 125 million years ago.
Where have Baryonyx fossils been found: England, Spain, (Europe).

In 1983, amateur fossil hunter, William Walker discovered parts of a giant claw, a claw bone and a tail bone whilst exploring a clay pit in Ockley, Surrey.  Palaeontologists from the British Museum (now known as the Natural History Museum) in London were despatched to investigate and this led to the recovery of approximately 70% of the skeleton of a new type of theropod dinosaur.  The huge claw, after which Baryonyx is named, measures over 30 cm along its curve.  It is possible that Baryonyx used this claw to hook fish out of water, while hunting on riverbanks.  The fossils found in the Surrey clay pit came from a dinosaur that was not fully grown.  Baryonyx could have measured up to 9.5 metres long, 2.5 metres high at the hips and probably weighed over 2 tonnes.

Dinosaurs Associated with the Wealden Group

A reconstruction of the Isle of Wight in the Lower Cretaceous

The prehistoric animals associated with the Wealden Group (Isle of Wight).  A Baryonyx feasts on the carcase of an Iguanodon, whilst a herd of sauropods (Pelorosaurus) passes by on the right.  The Baryonyx may not have too long to feed as a Neovenator approaches from the left.

Picture Credit: John Sibbick

9 02, 2021

Stegosaurus Information Panel

By | February 9th, 2021|Dinosaur Fans, Educational Activities, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products, Teaching|0 Comments

Stegosaurus Information Panel

As part of our on-going work with an events management company Everything Dinosaur team members have been asked to prepare an information panel on Stegosaurus for an exhibition.  Despite being one of the most popular of all the dinosaurs and a “terrible lizard” that the public find very easy to recognise, this genus has proved to be problematical for palaeontologists and ever since the first Stegosaurus was scientifically described back in 1877 by the American palaeontologist Othniel Charles Marsh, the stegosaur family have gone through several revisions.

The Bullyland Stegosaurus Dinosaur Model – Stegosaurus is One of the Most Famous of All the Dinosaurs

Bullyland Stegosaurus dinosaur model.

The Bullyland Stegosaurus dinosaur model.  An iconic replica of a famous dinosaur that because of its plates and spiky tail is easy to identify for members of the public.  However, its taxonomic history has been far from straight forward.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

In surveys conducted by Everything Dinosaur, to determine favourite prehistoric animals, Stegosaurus has been placed as high as three, with only Tyrannosaurus rex and Triceratops beating it in terms of popularity.  Putting together a concise yet informative display panel for Stegosaurus represented quite a challenge.

The Stegosaurus Information Panel

Name: Stegosaurus

Means: Roof Lizard

Period: Late Jurassic, about 155-150 million years ago

Where have Stegosaurus Fossils been Found? Colorado, Utah and Wyoming in the USA and Portugal (Europe)

Stegosaurus was a slow-moving herbivorous quadruped and is perhaps one of the easiest dinosaurs to recognise thanks to its plates and tail spikes.  However, ever since the first fossils of this iconic dinosaur were found in 1877 Stegosaurus has caused much controversy.  For example, the famous American palaeontologist Othniel Charles Marsh, the first scientist to describe Stegosaurus, thought that the plates resembled the large flat bones that formed the shells of some types of prehistoric sea turtle.  Marsh suggested that Stegosaurus was an aquatic animal.  It was not until 1891, after the discovery of several more specimens that the first skeletal reconstruction of Stegosaurus was completed.  The hind limbs are much longer than the front limbs and it has been suggested that Stegosaurus could have reared up so it could feed on the branches of trees.

“Sophie” the Stegosaurus a Star Attraction at the London Natural History Museum

Sophie the Stegosaurus at the London Natural History Museum

Sophie the Stegosaurus (S. stenops), a star exhibit at the London Natural History Museum.  The most complete Stegosaurus specimen known to science.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Scientists are still debating what the bony plates were used for and how exactly they were arranged along the back.  The plates are not attached to the spine but held in place with cartilage, tendons and muscles.  It is thought that the plates were arranged in two alternating rows running down the back with the largest plates (up to 1 metre high), located over the hips.  In this position the plates would have provided very little protection, it seems more likely that they played a role in species recognition or display behaviour.  The bony plates may also have helped maintain body temperature by acting as heat regulators.  The largest species measured around 9 metres in length and weighed more than 3 tonnes.  Stegosaurus also had two pairs of spikes on the end of its tail. These were probably defensive weapons.

To read an article about the research into the most complete Stegosaurus (S. stenops) specimen known to science: “Sophie” the Stegosaurus at 1.6 tonnes.

6 02, 2021

Preparing a Pteranodon Information Panel

By | February 6th, 2021|Dinosaur Fans, Educational Activities, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page, Teaching|0 Comments

Preparing a Pteranodon Information Panel

As part of their on-going work with an events management company, Everything Dinosaur team members have been asked to prepare an information panel on the famous pterosaur genus Pteranodon.  The information provided will be used for a display board that accompanies a life-size Pteranodon longiceps exhibit.  The Pteranodon panel is one of a series of display boards being created by Everything Dinosaur, all the other boards that staff members have been asked to create relate to dinosaurs.

A Model of the Pterosaur Pteranodon longiceps

JurassicCollectables reviews the Wild Safari Prehistoric World Pteranodon figure.

Perhaps the most famous flying reptile of all!  A model of the flying reptile known as Pteranodon (P. longiceps).  Everything Dinosaur team members have been asked to create an information board to accompany a life-size museum display of this Late Cretaceous pterosaur.

Picture Credit: JurassicCollectables

The Pteranodon Information Panel

Pteranodon might be one of the best-known and extensively studied of all the Pterosauria.  Around 1,200 fossil specimens are known, ironically most are fragmentary and squashed as flat as a pancake.

Name: Pteranodon (Pteranodon longiceps).

Means: Winged and Toothless.

Period: Late Cretaceous, 85 Million Years Ago (approximately).

Where are the majority of Pteranodon Fossils Found?  They are found in Kansas, South Dakota and Wyoming (USA).

Pteranodon is a pterosaur, a type of extinct flying reptile and not a dinosaur!  Pterosaurs were a very unusual group of reptiles that lived alongside the dinosaurs.  They were the earliest back-boned animals to evolve powered flight and take to the sky.  There are many species known (more than 120).  The smallest had a wingspan of around 25 centimetres, whereas the largest had a wingspan of about 10 – 11 metres!  They became extinct at the end of the Cretaceous, around 66 million years ago.  Pteranodon is perhaps the most famous pterosaur; the largest specimens suggest a wingspan of around 7 metres.  Over a thousand specimens, from almost complete skeletons to fragmentary bones, have been found.  Pteranodon fossils are associated with strata laid down in marine environments and it is thought that these flying reptiles fed on small fish.

Many Prehistoric Scenes Feature the Iconic Pterosaur Pteranodon

The Western Interior Seaway (Late Cretaceous)

Dramatic scene from the Western Interior Seaway painted by Burian.  Pteranodon fossils are associated with marine deposits and this explains why they are featured in prehistoric seascapes, especially those depicting the Pierre Seaway and the Western Interior Seaway.

Picture Credit: Zdeněk Burian

4 02, 2021

Preparing Information Panels for a Dinosaur Exhibition

By | February 4th, 2021|Dinosaur Fans, Educational Activities, Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils, Teaching|0 Comments

Preparing Information Panels for a Dinosaur Exhibition

Everything Dinosaur team members have been asked by an events company to check some information panels about dinosaurs in preparation for a series of outdoor exhibitions planned for the UK in the summer of 2021.  Events companies are making plans to commence exhibitions and other public activities as the lockdown restrictions are likely to come to an end later on this year (hopefully).

One of the dinosaurs featured is Diplodocus.  Everything Dinosaur team members have been busy checking and amending where necessary the information panel that will accompany an exhibit featuring this famous sauropod.  It is ironic that this is one of the first dinosaurs that we work on as we look forward to the end of lockdown.  Back in March 2020 staff were working with the Natural History Museum’s “Dippy” the Diplodocus touring exhibit, but the start of the first lockdown in the third week of that March led to all our outreach work being suspended.

A Size Comparison!  Diplodocus Compared to some Animals Alive Today

How big was Diplodocus?

Diplodocus compared to animals alive today.  This super-sized sauropod will be part of a set of prehistoric animals to be used by an exhibitions company.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The Information Panel

Name: Diplodocus
Means: Double Beam
Period: Late Jurassic, 154-150 Million Years Ago
Where have fossils been found: Colorado, Montana, Utah and Wyoming (USA)

Diplodocus is one of the longest dinosaurs to have ever lived.  It is also one of the best-known sauropods, as several skeletons have been discovered!  It is, at present, the longest dinosaur known from a practically complete skeleton.  Some dinosaurs were certainly larger, but they are known from less complete skeletons.  The largest specimen known is estimated to have been around 26 metres in length, about as long as three double decker buses and around 5 metres tall, from the toe to the hip.  Diplodocus weighed around approximately 10 to 15 tonnes!

The very first Diplodocus bones were discovered in a quarry in Colorado, USA, in 1877.  Diplodocus was herbivorous and possessed forward-pointing, long, peg-like teeth that were positioned at the front of its mouth; they were perfect branch-strippers.  Scientists believe that Diplodocus fed by closing its mouth around plant stems and stripping the leaves by pulling back its head – like a rake.

As our team members pointed out to the events company children are so well-informed and knowledgeable about dinosaurs, that whatever gets put on the information panel is likely to be challenged by them.  However, the panels we have helped to create we help to inform and to educate.

A Very Impressive Sauropod Femur (Diplodocid)

Professor Phil Manning and the diplodocid femur.

Professor Phil Manning (The University of Manchester) poses next to a diplodocid femur.  Huge sauropod fossils are still being found in the same area of the United States where the first Diplodocus fossils were discovered.

Picture Credit: The University of Manchester

10 01, 2021

Remember School Visits – Tips and Advice

By | January 10th, 2021|Main Page, Teaching|0 Comments

Remember School Visits – Tips and Advice

Do you remember school visits?  With most of the schools only accommodating children of key workers or other pupils with exemptions under the current COVID-19 regulations, Everything Dinosaur’s team members have stopped all school visits and outreach work.  However, we continue to receive emails asking us about various aspects of our work in schools.

Here is a general article that explains how a teaching team can get the most out of a school visitor who is there to deliver activities in support of a term topic:

Tips and Advice About Getting the Most from a School Visit

Tips and advice about school visits.

Tips and advice about school visits.  Everything Dinosaur helps out.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Advice and Tips – Frequently Asked Questions

Whether a museum, college, school or youth club here are a list of tips and helpful suggestions compiled by the Homo sapiens at Everything Dinosaur who are tasked with undertaking dinosaur themed workshops and other teaching activities.  After all, having worked with tens of thousands of people, our dinosaur experts/teachers know a thing or two about providing support for other educationalists.

  • When working in a school or college it is often best to base the teaching work in a single classroom.  It is often easier to bring the pupils to the presenter than having to move the presenter and all their equipment/resources from classroom to classroom.
  • A few days prior to every school visit the designated teacher/expert should email over a proposed, bespoke lesson plan, a suggested itinerary and further information to help the school to maximise the teaching time.  If they don’t, drop the visitor an email and chase them up.
  • The individually tailored lesson plans should indicate which sections of the national curriculum the session is related to.  Ask them to confirm how what they intend to deliver fits into the national curriculum learning objectives and intended outcomes.
  • If a parking space could be allocated close to where the teaching work is to be carried out that would be greatly appreciated and help with the unloading and loading of the vehicle.
  • Encourage the teaching team to ask questions, and feel free to pick brains with regards to follow up and extension activities.  The visitor should be able to suggest plenty of extensions and ways in which to reinforce learning.
  • A camera, Ipad, Smartphone to take pictures/video is recommended (if the school privacy and photographic policies allow).  Take lots and lots of pictures and don’t worry about making notes, use the pictures/video to test the understanding of the children.
  • When working with older students such as Key Stage 3 and beyond a useful and free resource worth exploring is the huge Everything Dinosaur web log.  It is packed with information on the latest fossil finds, explanations of scientific terms, updates on genetic research, news stories and features regarding palaeontology and other Earth sciences visit: Everything Dinosaur Web Log and review the General Teaching, EYFS and Key Stage Categories.

Classrooms May Be Empty But Everything Dinosaur Still Helping Out

Empty Classrooms But Everything Dinosaur Still Providing Free Advice and Assistance

A well appointed laboratory in a school.

Classrooms might be deserted at the moment, but Everything Dinosaur is still providing free advice and assistance to teachers.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

School visits may not be possible at the moment due to COVID-19, but Everything Dinosaur team members are still providing free advice and assistance. Everything Dinosaur helping to support teachers and teaching assistants.

18 12, 2020

Interactive “I-Book” Provides Readers with Unprecedented Access to Archaeological Sites

By | December 18th, 2020|Book Reviews, Educational Activities, Main Page, Photos, Teaching|0 Comments

Interactive “I-Book” Provides Readers with Unprecedented Access to Archaeological Sites

An interactive ‘”I-Book” which allows users to virtually walk around otherwise inaccessible historical sites has been shortlisted as a finalist in a major award.  Entitled “The Shetland in the Iron Age”, this  Interactive “I-Book” gives anyone a VIP pass to three distant archaeological sites and has been highly commended in an industry awards ceremony.

The concept of providing virtual access to sites of great historical significance was developed by Archaeological and Forensic Sciences PhD student Li Sou from the University of Bradford.  The “I-Book” offers a no-holds barred tour of three “broch”, Iron Age drystone hollow-walled structures found in the Shetland Islands, Scotland.  The technology is so simple to use, that anyone aged nine or over can use the “I-Book” and visit relatively remote and inaccessible sites.

University of Bradford Student Li Sou Demonstrates the “I-Book”

Archaeological and Forensic Sciences PhD student Li Sou from the University of Bradford.

Archaeological and Forensic Sciences PhD student Li Sou from the University of Bradford demonstrates the new “I-Book”.

Picture Credit: University of Bradford

The “I-Book” provides 360° virtual maps of the interiors that users can explore.  Virtual visitors can wander around their inner workings, exploring different buildings, accessing staircases and corridors, as though they were there in the Shetlands themselves.

Providing Lots of Associated Information and Data

The cleverly designed “I-Book” includes clickable information hotspots that link to a wealth of associated data, including historic photographs and videos from experts in the field.  The concept was shortlisted in the Association for Learning Technologists Awards and the “I-Book” was highly commended.  The judges describing it as an “incredibly varied, engaging and accessible digital educational resource.”

Historic Environment Scotland have been developing this technology for use at other historic properties in their care and these will launch in 2021, both on site and freely downloadable online.

An Overhead Photograph of a Broch

An overhead photograph of a broch on the Isle of Shetland.

An aerial shot of a broch.

Picture Credit: University of Bradford

The judging panel stated that the project:

“Has excelled in developing a range of versatile digital assets to aid in learning about complicated archaeological and academic themes.”

Commenting after the prestigious award ceremony, student Li Sou exclaimed:

“This is the culmination of a six-month project and brochs are complicated archaeological sites to understand and are not physically accessible to everyone.  The I-Book format is not very well known in the heritage sector, so the project was an excellent opportunity to design a resource that gives readers a chance to explore the sites as if they were there in real life, with integrated accessibility features to make them accessible to all.”

A Useful Resource in the Midst of a Global Pandemic

The use of technology such as this has significant implications for the support of archaeology and general education in the midst of a global pandemic.  The emergence and spread of COVID-19 has curtailed travel and restricted the opening times for heritage monuments.  “I-Books” such as this permit sites that might be closed to the public and otherwise difficult to reach due to the need to restrict travel or to self-isolate, to still be accessible to students, archaeologists and the general public.

“I-Book” Development Team Photo (in an Age of Social Distancing)

Team photo of all those involved in the project

Team photo of all those involved in the “I-Book” project.

Picture Credit: University of Bradford

The interactive “I-Book”  entitled “The Shetland in the Iron Age” was developed in collaboration with the Shetland Amenity Trust with a working group from Historic Environment Scotland, along with the co-operation and assistance of the Visualising Heritage group within the School of Archaeological and Forensic Sciences, University of Bradford.

Implications for Palaeontology Departments

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented that this type of technology has applications within the Earth sciences.  For example, interactive “I-Books” could be provided to help students and researchers virtually visit remote dig sites and fossil quarries.  It could also be used in other research areas such as allowing observations of fossil collections and other material that would otherwise be very difficult to access.

Everything Dinosaur acknowledges the assistance of a media release from the University of Bradford in the compilation of this article.

27 09, 2020

Monsters of the Deep: Science Fact and Fiction

By | September 27th, 2020|Animal News Stories, Educational Activities, Main Page, Photos, Press Releases, Teaching|0 Comments

Monsters of the Deep: Science Fact and Fiction at the National Maritime Museum Cornwall (July to 3rd January 2022)

We might be living in a world of track and trace, where everywhere we go and who we meet can be uploaded into a gargantuan database, but there is a part of our planet that remains relatively unknown even in today’s digitally dominated environment.  The deep, dark depths of our oceans harbour some of the most bizarre and amazing creatures to have ever evolved and a recently re-opened exhibition at the National Maritime Museum (Falmouth, Cornwall), permits visitors to meet up with some of nature’s most curious creatures as well as plunging into the depths of our own imagination to explore legendary sea monsters – all without getting our feet wet.

Monsters of the Deep: Science Fact and Fiction

Monsters of the Deep exhibition.

Monsters of the Deep: Science Fact and Fiction at the National Maritime Museum (Cornwall).  Take the plunge!  Encounter myths, legends and real sea monsters. 

Picture Credit: Courtesy of the National Maritime Museum Cornwall 

Deep-sea Monsters Real and Imagined

Running until January 2022, this carefully crafted exhibition takes visitors on a voyage of discovery from Medieval folklore through cryptozoology and the modern-day monster hunters employing the very latest maritime technology used to explore those parts of planet Earth furthest from our sun.

A Collection of Ocean-dwelling Curiosities

Giant Isopods on display.

Curious crustaceans such as giant isopods with their huge compound eyes stare back at you.  The exhibition permits visitors to closely examine some of the most amazing ocean-dwelling creatures known to science.

Picture Credit: Courtesy of the National Maritime Museum Cornwall 

A Collaboration Between Leading Institutions

World class scientific collections from such august bodies as the British Museum, the National Oceanography Centre, the Science Museum, Royal Museums Greenwich and Cambridge University Library have been plundered by modern day buccaneers on a mission to inform, educate and entertain.  Rarely seen specimens, artwork and artefacts all housed under one roof including a large scale reproduction of the Carta Marina, the world’s most famous medieval map of the sea, complete with fanciful monsters and mermaids.  The exhibition highlights the myths associated with early exploration and showcases exquisite illustrations of sea monsters including the strange “mirror creatures”, denizens of the deep that haunted the nightmares of many a seafarer in the age of sail.

Early Explorers Brought Home Tales of Encounters with Fantastic Sea Creatures

Explorers and sea monsters.

Early explorers brought back fanciful tales of sea serpents, mermaids and monsters.

As Real as Elephants and Giraffes

Prior to the Age of Enlightenment which hastened a revolution in scientific thinking in the 17th century, little was known about the exotic fauna that inhabited our world.  On display at this exhibition is the Hortus sanitatis, the first ever natural history encyclopaedia.  Originally printed in 1491, the year before Christopher Columbus set out on his voyage that led to the discovery of the New World, it represents a significant landmark in our attempts to document and understand the natural world with unicorns and mermaids considered just as real as elephants and giraffes.

A Collection of Books on Cryptozoology on Display

Books about Sea Monsters on Display

A large number of books documenting our fascination with monsters of the deep are on display.

Picture Credit: Courtesy of the National Maritime Museum Cornwall 

Guest Curators and Leading Specialists

Monsters of the Deep: Science Fact and Fiction has been developed in co-operation with leading specialists and guest curators, including Viktor Wynd, the custodian of the “UnNatural History Museum”, bringing together a collection of curiosities including a mummified feegee mermaid and a skeleton of a unicorn!  This section of the exhibition is dedicated to exploring ideas about what is real and what can be falsified or faked.

A Rearing “Unicorn” on Display at the National Maritime Museum

A rearing unicorn skeleton.

An exhibit from the “UnNatural History Museum” – a rearing unicorn skeleton.

Picture Credit: Courtesy of the National Maritime Museum Cornwall 

As well as exploring the theme of sea monsters in popular culture, the exhibition provides an insight into some of the very latest cutting-edge technical developments that have allowed marine biologists rare glimpses of the natural wonders that still exist in the largely unexplored regions of our planet such as the vast abyssal plain.

Combining Myth and Fantasy with Scientific Endeavour and Research

Meet Boaty McBoatface.

The exhibition highlights state-of-the-art technology such as the latest mini submersibles that are transforming our understanding of the world’s oceans.

Picture Credit: Courtesy of the National Maritime Museum Cornwall 

To ensure the safety and wellbeing of all visitors and staff, the Museum has implemented a number of new health and safety measures, in line with the latest government advice including timed arrival slots, social distancing measures and on-line only booking.

As half-term approaches, escape your bubble and take the plunge!  Immerse yourself in a world of folklore, fun, facts and fantasy.

Monsters of the Deep: Science Fact and Fiction at the National Maritime Museum Cornwall (July to 3rd January 2022).  For further details: The National Maritime Museum.

23 05, 2020

The Principle of Superposition

By | May 23rd, 2020|Educational Activities, Geology, Main Page, Teaching|0 Comments

Explaining The Principle of Superposition

Everything Dinosaur received an enquiry earlier this week from a young student studying rocks and fossils at their school as part of a geology project.  The student asked, “what is the law of superposition?” Our team members were happy to provide a short explanation.

The principle of superposition, often referred to as the law of superposition is an observation that sedimentary layers of rock at the bottom of a sequence if they undeformed, then they must be older than those at the top.  The bottom layers must have been in existence in order to permit the upper layers to have been deposited on top of them.

Layers of Sedimentary Rock Demonstrating the Principle of Superposition

The Church cliffs at Lyme Regis.

Fossil hunting can be fun but beware of the cliffs.  The Church cliffs at Lyme Regis are notoriously unstable and dangerous but they do help to demonstrate the law of superposition.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

A Fundamental Principle of Geology

The law of superposition is regarded as one of the fundamental principles that underpins modern geology, although this principle is very much applicable in other research fields such as archaeology.  It helps to provide a basis for the relative dating of strata.  As the oldest strata will always be found at the bottom of an undeformed, observable sequence of sedimentary rocks.  It is extremely helpful when considering stratigraphical dating, which is governed by the proposition that a layer cannot be older than its constituents.

The introduction of this principle is accredited to the Danish polymath Nicolas Stenos (1638-1686), often referred to as the “father of modern geology”.  In 2012, Nicolas Stenos was honoured with the creation of a Google doodle demonstrating his principle complete with illustrations of fossils.

The 2012 Google Doodle Honouring Nicolas Stenos

Remembering the Contribution of Nicolas Stenos.  Danish scientist honoured with a Google doodle.

Picture Credit: Google

This geological principle was popularised by the famous English geologist William Smith (1769-1839), who used this law to create the first ever map showing the geology of a landscape.  In 1815, the year of the battle of Waterloo, William Smith published a map outlining the geology of England, Wales and parts of Scotland.

The “Ground-breaking” First Geological Map to be Published

The William Smith Geological Map (1815).

Can you see the geology in your part of the world?

Picture Credit: The Geological Society of London

21 05, 2020

Happy Birthday Mary Anning

By | May 21st, 2020|General Teaching, Key Stage 1/2|Comments Off on Happy Birthday Mary Anning

Happy Birthday Mary Anning

On this day in 1799, Mary Anning the famous fossil hunter from Lyme Regis was born.  Mary along with her brother Joseph was responsible for the discovery of some highly significant fossils from an area of Dorset which forms part of the UNESCO World Heritage site known as the “Jurassic Coast”.

Mary Anning 1799-1847 (Famous Fossil Collector from Dorset)

A portrait of Mary Anning.

Mary Anning 1799-1847, Mary’s dog Tray can also be seen in this portrait.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Like many children growing up in Georgian England, Mary had very little formal education, but she was able to read and in her later life she taught herself, geology and anatomy as well as becoming quite adept at scientific illustration.

She became well known for her fossil discoveries and she supplemented the family’s meagre income by selling some of her fossil finds to wealthy members of society who were encouraged to holiday in England whilst the Napoleonic Wars raged in Europe.

During her lifetime, she did not receive full credit for her discoveries including the first pterosaur (flying reptile), to be found outside Germany.  For example, as a woman, she was not permitted to join the Geological Society of London, an institute that was to remain closed to women members until 1919.

In 2010, the Royal Society named Mary Anning as one of the ten British women who have most influenced the history of science.  Learning the story of Mary Anning and her fossil discoveries is often integrated into the “Rocks and Fossils” scheme of work which forms part of the Year 3 science curriculum in England.

30 04, 2020

“Crazy Beast” Lived Amongst the Last of the Dinosaurs

By | April 30th, 2020|General Teaching, Key Stage 1/2, Key Stage 3/4|Comments Off on “Crazy Beast” Lived Amongst the Last of the Dinosaurs

Adalatherium hui – “Crazy Beast” from Madagascar

Scientists have published a scientific paper in the academic journal “Nature” that describes a cat-sized mammal that lived alongside the dinosaurs at the very end of the Cretaceous.  The furry little creature has been named Adalatherium hui and its fossils have been found on the island of Madagascar.  Madagascar started to  break away from the super-continent of Gondwana around 88 million years ago and so animals such as Adalatherium evolved in relative isolation, separated from other populations of mammals on larger landmasses.  At around three kilograms in weight and not being fully grown when it died, it challenges the perception that all mammals were very small during the time of the dinosaurs.

A Life Reconstruction of the Late Cretaceous Mammaliaform Adalatherium hui

Late Cretaceous mammaliaform Adalatherium.

Adalatherium life reconstruction.  Although it is thought this animal lived in burrows like a modern badger, the colouration of this life reconstruction is speculative.

Picture Credit: Reuters

“Crazy Beast”

Adalatherium lived around 72 million to 66 million years ago (Late Cretaceous).  The genus name translated from the Greek and native Malagasy means “crazy beast”, as the discovery of skull and postcranial fossil material of this badger-like creature challenges a lot of scientific assumptions about the evolution of mammals during the latter stages of the Mesozoic.  The snout had a large congregation of nerves within it, making the nose of this animal extremely sensitive.  This suggests that sense of smell was very important and therefore, it has been proposed that Adalatherium lived underground, that it was a burrowing animal (fossorial – an animal adapted to digging and living in burrows).

Adalatherium shared its island home with a number of predatory dinosaurs, including abelisaurids, dromaeosaurs and noasaurids as well as at least three species of crocodilians, both ancient forms and distant relatives of today’s living crocodiles (Neosuchian crocodilians).

Perhaps living underground was a very sensible strategy when surrounded by large predators.

Extensions

  • Make a list of animals alive today that live in burrows
  • What similarities do they have?  What differences can you spot?
  • Can you design a dinosaur that could live underground?  What sort of adaptations would this animal have?
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