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.

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?
24 04, 2020

Triceratops Encourages Learning

By | April 24th, 2020|General Teaching|Comments Off on Triceratops Encourages Learning

Triceratops Encourages Learning

The extensive range of dinosaur and fossil themed teaching resources available free of charge from Everything Dinosaur are not just for teaching professionals, mums and dads can use them too!  The dedicated and enthusiastic teaching team at Everything Dinosaur have prepared a large range of teaching resources to help support and assist all those having to home school at the moment.  It can be quite hard to motivate young learners at this challenging time (coronavirus outbreak), but we have prepared lesson plan suggestions, experiments, fact sheets, schemes of work, all with a prehistoric theme to provide inspiration for the next generation of young scientists currently confined to their homes.

Don’t take our word for it, a Triceratops tells you how it is…

Triceratops Says Feel Free to use Everything Dinosaur’s Free Downloads

Triceratops sets out to encourage teachers and parents to use free downloads.

The extensive range of downloadable teaching resources including lesson plan ideas and suggestions are available free from Everything Dinosaur.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The download section of our teaching website can be found here: Downloads and Other Resources Available Free from Everything Dinosaur.

Exploring the Downloads Section of the Everything Dinosaur Site

To aid navigation around the downloads section of the Everything Dinosaur school website, this area has been divided into three subcategories based upon the standard teaching definitions found in most UK schools.

The subcategories are:

  • EYFS/Reception (resources suitable for children in nursery or reception classes)
  • KS1/KS2 (resources aimed at primary schools)
  • KS3/KS4 (resources aimed at those children in secondary education)

The downloads are not just for teachers, as our Triceratops states, they are available to everybody so those parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts and guardians supporting home schooling can use them as well.

Feel free to help yourself, these resources have been downloaded hundreds and hundreds of times.  Just one of the ways in which Everything Dinosaur team members are helping out in these difficult times.

20 04, 2020

Thousands of Helpful and Informative Blog Posts

By | April 20th, 2020|General Teaching|Comments Off on Thousands of Helpful and Informative Blog Posts

4,750 Blog Posts to Help Teachers and those Home Schooling

Today, (April 20th, 2020), for many schools would have been the first day of the summer term.  However, in these extraordinary times (COVID-19), most of the schools in the UK and elsewhere in the world remain closed.  Teachers and teaching assistants and doing all they can to help with home schooling.  Parents and guardians too are in the unusual position of having to organise and manage the home schooling of children.  Team members at Everything Dinosaur have already supplied hundreds of helpful resources with a dinosaur or fossil theme to support science teaching.

The Everything Dinosaur blog has just passed the landmark of 4,750 articles.  These are on-line and free to access providing helpful information about fossil discoveries, research and prehistoric animals.

Celebrating 4,750 Articles on the Everything Dinosaur Weblog

Celebrating 4,750 weblog articles (Everything Dinosaur).

The Everything Dinosaur blog site has 4,750 articles for teachers, teaching assistants and home schoolers to access and they are all free to use.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The Everything Dinosaur main blog site is crammed full with helpful information and of the 4,750 articles that have been posted up to date, there are 548 in the education category and a further 287 articles within the teaching category, providing yet more assistance and support as well as a wealth of information to permit the development of lesson plans.

The main blog site of Everything Dinosaur can be found here: Everything Dinosaur’s Main Blog Site.

There is no paywall, there are no fees to pay, each and every day a team member from Everything Dinosaur ensures that there is an article or feature posted up onto the site.  These are all free and available to be used to help support teaching work, lesson plans, subjects and topics.  Readers can use as many of these articles and features as they like.

Easy to Read, Informative and Helpful Articles

The blog certainly covers a wide range of dinosaur and fossil themed subjects.  For example, in the last week team members have produced posts explaining how aeronautical engineers are looking at the fossilised remains of flying reptiles to provide inspirational ideas on drone designs, a study of insect wing cases found in Switzerland has helped answer the question why are some insects iridescent?  Furthermore, the site has looked at Woolly Mammoths, Caribbean frogs, the origins and evolution of hominins and even provided a free crossword to download.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“As well as covering information about our business, the blog has been designed to provide a resource for teachers and the general public to help them learn more about the Earth sciences.  In these challenging times, this is a free-to-use resource that can help support teachers, academics and those people responsible for home schooling.”

With 4,750 articles it certainly is a large site providing support and assistance in these difficult times.

12 04, 2020

The Origins of the Easter Bunny

By | April 12th, 2020|General Teaching|Comments Off on The Origins of the Easter Bunny

Remarkable Rabbits

The rabbit, an animal often associated with this time of year (Easter), is not a rodent, although many members of the public think this chisel-toothed animal is.  After all, rodents have chisel-teeth too.  However, whilst both rodents and rabbits tend to be small, often burrow dwellers and herbivorous with ever-growing front incisors, there are notable differences.  For example, rabbits, hares and pikas (referred to as lagomorphs), have two pairs of upper chisel-like incisors whilst rodents only have one pair.  Rabbits also differ from rodents in that they have short tails, long ears that also help them to radiate excess heat as well as listen out for predators and long hind legs adapted to a jumping gait.

Although, they are related to rodents, where rabbits and their kin fit into the history of mammal evolution remains hotly debated.  The earliest fossils associated with these types of creatures date back to just a few million years after the extinction of the dinosaurs.  Whilst only two families of rabbits survive today – the Leporidae (hares and rabbits) and the Ochotonidae (pikas), in the past they were much more diverse and these animals have an extensive fossil record.

Some prehistoric rabbits were giants such as Nuralagus rex which inhabited the Spanish island of Menorca until about 3 million years ago.  This giant bunny is estimated to have weighed more than twenty kilograms and it was so large and heavy it probably lost the ability to hop.

A Comparison of the Giant Pliocene Rabbit Nuralagus rex with a Pet Rabbit

Nuralagus - giant prehistoric rabbit.

The giant Pliocene rabbit Nuralagus (N. rex) compared to a European rabbit.

Picture Credit: Mary Persis Williams

Rabbits might be associated with this time of year (Easter), but to a vertebrate palaeontologist, these lagomorphs have a long and diverse fossil record and some ancient rabbits were giants.

6 04, 2020

Not All Dinosaurs were Feathered

By | April 6th, 2020|General Teaching, Key Stage 3/4|Comments Off on Not All Dinosaurs were Feathered

There were Feathered Dinosaurs but not all Dinosaurs were Feathered

Research conducted by palaeontologists at the London Natural History Museum suggests that whilst dinosaurs that were closely related to modern birds (Aves), were probably feathered, other types of dinosaurs such as the Late Cretaceous horned dinosaurs and the duck-billed dinosaurs probably were not covered in feathers.  A book tracing the evolution of feathers is being written and as part of the background to this forthcoming publication, Professor Paul Barrett of the Museum conducted an evolutionary analysis looking at the preserved skin fossils of the 77 dinosaur species where evidence of skin has been preserved.

A Preserved Skin Impression from a Tyrannosaurus rex

T. rex skin impression fossil.

A skin impression associated with Tyrannosaurus rex.  Dinosaurs such as tyrannosaurs may have been feathered, at least whilst they were young animals but there are no signs of feathers or an integumentary covering associated with T. rex skin impressions.

Picture Credit: Biology Letters

Evidence of Reptilian Scaly Skins

The study suggests that the first types of dinosaurs were probably covered in scaly skin and not feathered.  Professor Barrett and his colleagues found no evidence of the earliest members of the Dinosauria being feathered.  Most of the fossil evidence supports the view that a specific proportion of the Theropoda (mostly meat-eating dinosaurs), the Coelurosauria – were feathered.  No evidence for a feathery covering in long-necked, plant-eaters (Sauropodomorpha) has been identified to date.

Sinosauropteryx – The First Dinosaur with Feathers to be Described

Sinosauropteryx fossil.

Sinosauropteryx fossil – the first feathered dinosaur to be described.  This small Chinese dinosaur is a member of the Coelurosauria clade of theropods, the group of theropods most closely associated with feathers.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The First Feathered Dinosaur Fossils were Found in China

Sinosauropteryx a feathered dinosaur.

Analysis of Sinosauropteryx fossil material suggests that this little dinosaur had ginger feathers.

Picture Credit: J. Robbins

The book is due to be published later on this year, a spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented that it would add to the growing list of books aimed at the general reader that helped to explain some of the areas of research currently being conducted on the Dinosauria.

For further articles about feathered dinosaurs and research:

Tyrannosaurus rex loses its feathers: T. rex Sheds its Feathers.

The origins of feathers: Feathers came first, then Birds Evolved.

Did all Dinosaurs have feathers? Did all Dinosaurs have Feathers?

Extension Ideas

  • What evidence can you find for dinosaurs having feathers?  Can you draw up a simplified family tree of the Dinosauria identifying which types of dinosaurs were feathered?
  • What are the reasons for large animals such as the sauropods probably not having a feathery covering?  A hint, think surface to volume ratios and how large animals need to prevent overheating.
  • Create a poster/chart comparing a bird to a meat-eating dinosaur.  What are the similarities, what are the differences?
  • Why do you think some dinosaurs were feathered?  Can you come up with a theory?
3 04, 2020

Everything Dinosaur Supporting Teachers and Home Educators

By | April 3rd, 2020|General Teaching, Key Stage 1/2|Comments Off on Everything Dinosaur Supporting Teachers and Home Educators

Everything Dinosaur Supporting Teachers and Home Educators

For the staff at Everything Dinosaur, the interests of our customers, our team members and our communities are at the very heart of all that we do.  At this particularly challenging time with the continuing Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, we want to do our best to help all those people having to teach children either at home or in school.

We want to let you know that you remain our top priority and we are doing all we can to assist schools, parents, guardians, nurseries and home educators.

To date, Everything Dinosaur has provided hundreds of free downloads of teaching materials and other resources.

Take for example, this free junior word search that we have been sending out.  Aimed at young children with a fascination for dinosaurs, our word search contains seven words associated with dinosaurs and prehistoric animals, can you find them all?

Everything Dinosaur Providing a Free Junior Dinosaur Themed Word Search Puzzle

A dinosaur themed word search puzzle.

Everything Dinosaur team members have created a junior dinosaur-themed word search puzzle.  It is available free of charge.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The Benefits of Word Search Puzzles

Word games such as word search puzzles have many benefits.  Firstly, they assist with the development of pattern recognition, a key cognitive function in humans.  For young dinosaur fans, our word search also improves spelling, assists in vocabulary development and above all, it is fun.

The word search puzzle (and the answers), can be requested by simply emailing Everything Dinosaur: Email Everything Dinosaur to Request our Dinosaur Themed Word Search Puzzle.

A spokesperson for the UK-based company commented:

“Over the last few weeks, we have all been working very hard to support teachers and home educators.  With many children now at home and unable to go to school, we have been providing lots of helpful teaching resources and other learning materials to help assist with home schooling.”

Extension Idea

How about creating your own wordsearch?  It could be about dinosaurs or any other subject that you wish.  If you are learning about the Romans, why not try creating a Roman-themed word search that you can try out on a family member.  Perhaps, you could record the time it takes for each person to complete the challenge and create a chart to display the results.

28 03, 2020

Fossil Skull Reveals Origin of Modern Birds

By | March 28th, 2020|General Teaching, Key Stage 3/4|Comments Off on Fossil Skull Reveals Origin of Modern Birds

“Wonderchicken” Fossil Reveals Origin of Modern Birds

The oldest fossil of a modern bird yet found, dating from the very end of the Cretaceous, has been identified by an international team of palaeontologists led by researchers from the University of Cambridge.  Sophisticated CT scans (computerised tomography), of a limestone rock, not much bigger than a pack of cards, revealed the exquisitely preserved fossil skull.  Fragments of bone exposed on the rock’s surface suggested that there were more bones buried deep in the rock, but the scientists were not expecting to find the near perfect fossilised skull of a modern bird (neornithine), once the CT scans had been completed.

The bird has been nicknamed “wonderchicken” as its skull shows characteristics found in modern ducks and chickens.  This suggests it is close to the last common ancestor of these types of birds.

A Life Reconstruction of “Wonderchicken” – Asteriornis maastrichtensis

Life reconstruction - Asteriornis maastrichtensis .

Asteriornis maastrichtensis life reconstruction.

Picture Credit: Philip Krzeminski

The fossil comes from a limestone quarry on the Netherlands-Belgium border, making it the first modern bird from the age of dinosaurs to have been found in the northern hemisphere.

Named Asteriornis maastrichtensis, this quail-sized bird (to which it is distantly related), exhibits a previously undocumented combination of galliform-like (landfowl) and anseriform-like (waterfowl) anatomical traits.  Its presence alongside a previously reported Ichthyornis-like bird from the same quarry provides direct evidence of the co-occurrence of crown birds and avialan stem birds.

The Limestone Rock which Contains the Fossil Skull

The lump of limestone ontaining the skull of Asteriornis maastrichtensis.

The limestone containing the skull of Asteriornis maastrichtensis.

Picture Credit: Dr Daniel Field (Cambridge University)

Small Size Could Have Saved Modern Birds from Extinction

Asteriornis was quite small, certainly much smaller than the pterosaurs that it shared the skies with.  The fossil has been dated to 66.8-66.7 million years ago, a few hundred thousand years before the dinosaurs and lots of other animals including many types of bird, died out.

The authors of the scientific paper (published in the journal Nature), speculate that as it was small and it lived by the sea, this way of life, fitting a particular niche in the Late Cretaceous ecosystem, may have helped the ancestors of today’s birds to survive the end-Cretaceous mass extinction event that wiped out the dinosaurs.

26 03, 2020

Spotting a Diplodocus

By | March 26th, 2020|General Teaching|Comments Off on Spotting a Diplodocus

A Wild Safari Prehistoric World Diplodocus Dinosaur Model Spotted at an Exhibition

Whilst working at a library supporting the “Dippy the Diplodocus” nationwide tour, an eagle-eyed Everything Dinosaur team member spotted a Wild Safari Prehistoric World Diplodocus dinosaur model that was being used to help demonstrate what scientists think Diplodocus looked like when it roamed the Late Jurassic of western North America.

The Wild Safari Prehistoric World Diplodocus Dinosaur Model

A beautiful Diplodocus dinosaur model.

A beautiful model of a Diplodocus dinosaur helping to publicise the “Dippy on Tour” programme.  The replica is the Wild Safari Prehistoric World Diplodocus model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The Natural History Museum’s famous cast Diplodocus used to grace Hintze Hall at the Museum.  In January 2017, the skeleton was dismantled (all 292 bones of it) to make space for a new Blue Whale exhibit “Hope”.  This permitted the replica to go on a nationwide tour of the UK and Rochdale is just one of eight venues selected for this exhibition.  To date, over 100,000 people have visited the skeleton in Rochdale.  As well as the twenty-metre long replica itself, an exciting programme of events has been put together to help to inspire the next generation of young scientists.

Everything Dinosaur staff members have been providing expertise and assistance and have enjoyed helping to organise the family-themed science activities.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur, in between delivering fossil hunting workshops for the Borough Council as part of a series of outreach activities commented:

“The aim of this tour and the exhibition programme is to help inspire and enthuse the next generation of scientists.  The Diplodocus has also done a great deal to attract visitors to the area and to boost the local economy.  It is wonderful to see such nationally-important exhibits like “Dippy the Diplodocus” visiting the northwest of England”.

“Dippy the Diplodocus” can be seen at the Number One Riverside, Rochdale venue until June 28th (2020), with numerous other dinosaur themed events taking place in the Rochdale area for the duration of the exhibition.

Rochdale Borough Council has been able to source a wide range of dinosaur and prehistoric animal themed items to help support this exhibition.  Together with Everything Dinosaur team members the Council has been planning for the arrival of the famous sauropod for more than a year.  All the hard work has certainly paid off with over 100,000 visitors recorded to date.

The Wild Safari Prehistoric World range is an award-winning range of prehistoric animal figures and replicas.  To see this range:
Safari Ltd – Wild Safari Prehistoric World Models.

Load More Posts