Dinosaur Isle is expecting its millionth visitor during February. It is almost 14 years since Dinosaur Isle opened in August of 2001 in our new building. As part of the celebrations we will be opening our doors for free entry on Sunday 8th February. Predictions are that the millionth visitor should come through our doors on that day if there are enough visitors. Activities are planned for the younger ones in our education room, bring your fossils along for free identification.Doors will be open from 10am to 4pm, with last admissions at 3pm. There is a planned fossil walk at 9:30am at the nearby beach, but this will need to be booked and paid for. See our Events page for further details.
For those of you who are wondering about the work going on in front of Dinosaur Isle - we are constructing a new area that will represent a muddy river bank covered in dinosaur footprints. The picture shows the concrete base being poured on the 21st January in chilly conditions. In the background is the lorry pumping in the new hot concrete mix.By the following day the base was poured and some blocks laid to form the inside of some new seats and stands. The work is being done by Eccleston George. We hope this will be an exciting new area to conduct our outdoor school talks from, and that young children will be seen running around the trackways once it is finished and the weather is warmer. By the 30th January the outer skin of concrete was being laid. Here the Eccleston George elves are putting in the individual dinosaur footprints.About half done - the block in the centre will turn into a bench seat. The large brown block on the left is destined to become a plinth for the hand-prints of our millionth visitor. Due, we hope by the 8th of February).This news item is being updated as the work is being done. By the 4th of February the last area of the top surface was on. The footprints now include those from two Iguanodons, Eotyrannus, two Hypsilophodons, a sauropod and a pterosaur. The first area (furthest away from the camera) is changing colour as it continues to set. Working in partnership with Wight Building Materials, Richard Carter and Eccleston George.In this picture can be seen the tracks of Eotyrannus, a small meat-eating dinosaur that has only been found on the Isle of Wight. To the right are tracks from two smaller dinosaurs called Hypsilophodon. Although they also have long pointed toes like Eotyrannus these creatures are plant-eaters and may have run just as fast as Eotyrannus. Not surprising if you were being chased by something with a mouth full of sharp teeth! This picture was taken on the 10th of February.Not all of our new tracks are from dinosaurs. This small reptile also left its prints behind. No prizes for guessing - but do you know what creature left them?
A number of our visiting schools choose to go to the southern-most tip of the Island at St.Catherine's Point for their field-trips. While fossils are an important part of the visit the geomorphology, or landscape is stunning and for those from inner city schools shows just how pretty the Island can be. A few thousand years ago the southern coastline slumped to the shore below in a series of enormous falls. The ground continues to move slowly making the zone one of the largest inhabited active landslide areas in northern Europe. Perched high above the beach at St.Catherine's Point is a half-graben, or valley, that is formed of a mix of rubbly Chalk and large blocks from the old ground movement. From one of these hills (below Gore Cliff) protrudes a van-sized block of rock that has been visible from the beach for years.During the winter of 2014/15 the ground conditions became so wet that the block fell with a crash into the gully below. The skyline is now permanently altered. While the road below continues to creep down the slope, the rocks above show just how active the Island's erosion is. It all makes for an exciting place to visit.
Dinosaur Isle in Sandown is expecting to welcome its one millionth visitor since it opened its doors for the first time back in August 2001. Based on current visitor numbers, staff are predicting the millionth visitor will walk through the doors by the end of the year.A surprise prize will be given to the lucky millionth customer, while all visitors to the museum can now enter a competition to win a break on the Isle of Wight. The winner will be drawn on the day the millionth visitor is revealed. Click here for Terms and Conditions.Since opening in 2001, Dinosaur Isle now holds more than 30,000 fossils, covering the breadth of the Island's geology. It regularly welcomes schools from across the country on organised trips, and hosts hugely popular fossil walks. These walks have in the past turned up newly discovered species of dinosaur, as well as a prehistoric crocodile and a spider. Peter Pusey, general manager at the museum, said: “Reaching one million visitors is a great tribute to those early fossil hunters who, in the 1820s, had the foresight to lay the foundations of the collection that is still being added to today. "We wanted to have a bit of fun and share our excitement this summer, and get our one millionth visitor party started." Councillor Shirley Smart, Executive member for tourism and economy, said: "It is incredible to think Dinosaur Isle is approaching the one millionth visitor mark. "This is a fantastic achievement for the museum which continues to attract tens of thousands of visitors every year and I send my congratulations to the staff." David Thornton, chief executive for Visit Isle of Wight, said: "Dinosaur Isle forms one of the cornerstones of the Isle of Wight's heritage branding and is a key aspect of what makes the Island distinct and different. "Over the past couple of years the museum has been phenomenally successful and we are delighted to be in involved with the celebrations to mark its millionth visitor."
The Council’s four museums (including Dinosaur Isle) achieved Full Accredited status in March 2014.The Accreditation Scheme sets nationally agreed standards for museums in the UK. There are currently just under 1,800 museums participating in the scheme, demonstrating their commitment to managing collections effectively for the enjoyment and benefit of users.Accreditation has recently been developed to keep pace with the times, to help museums develop their resilience through effective forward planning, to balance aspects of collection management and to encourage all museums to be responsive to user needs and expectations.Accreditation enables museums and governing bodies to assess their current performance, and it supports them in planning and developing their services.Click here for further information on the scheme.
Last year we succeeded in achieving over 100 guided fossil, landscape and geology walks for the public (on top of the many walks we also lead for visiting schools).This is the first year we have managed to lead over 100 walks annually. This is due to a number of factors, including the interest generated by the new Walking with Dinosaurs 3D movie, the 50th Anniversary of the Isle of Wight Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the work of the Council's events team in promoting Walking and Cycling Festivals, and the advertizing generated by VisitIW.We inspired over 2000 visitors and locals (about 1100 adults and 900 children) on our walks at Yaverland, Shanklin, Brook, Compton and at Fort Victoria, including a successful joint walk with the National Trust in October.We planned for 126 walks, of which 117 went ahead (bad weather, including snow in January, meant a number were cancelled in the winter months).We are now planning trips for 2014 - the first have been advertized on our Events webpage, the rest will follow.
During November Dinosaur Isle took delivery of a number of small dinosaur models from Priddy Books.First published in 2004, "Smart Kids Dinosaur A-Z" is an alphabetical introduction to the world of dinosaurs starting with the carnivorous Allosaurus and ending with the swift-moving Zephyrosaurus. A scale model was especially commissioned for each of the 26 dinosaurs in the book, all individually designed and constructed by model maker Graham High of Centaur Studios.Almost ten years later the 23 surviving models have been donated to Dinosaur Isle by Roger Priddy. They are currently on show in our lab whilst we find space in the main museum for them.
The Royal Mail has issued a set of new Dinosaur stamps, with artwork by the Isle of Wight artist John Sibbick. A set of stamps and two family admission tickets to Dinosaur Isle have been given as prizes for a new competition.1st Prize - a set of stamps and a family admission ticket.Runner-up - a family admission ticket.The aim of the competition was to imagine you have discovered a new, previously unknown dinosaur on the Isle of Wight and must give it a name - what would you call it? Examples of other Isle of Wight dinosaurs are Eotyrannus lengi, Neovenator salerii and Hypsilophodon.The competition closed at 4pm on 10th November 2013. Two suitable dinosaur names have been selected and the winners will be notified. This article will be updated with the winning entries once the prizes have been sent out.
On a rather wet and windy day a group of us walked along the coastal path from Dinosaur Isle to Bembridge Down to examine how the Cretaceous rocks had affected the landscape above; and the location of some of the Victorian, Edwardian and later age fortifications.Starting at the older rocks of the Wessex Formation we steadily passed the Forts at Sandown and Yaverland, talking about the guns that were installed there and the periods in which the Forts were built and used. The Yaverland battery sits on a hill made of soft yellow sand in the Vectis Formation rocks. From there we climbed the path to what was left of the battery on the Ferruginous Sands of Redcliff - finding scattered military marker stones in the long grass, and zig-zag trenches. As we arrived at the Battery on the end of Culver Cliff (cut into the White Chalk) it began to rain so we quickly headed for a break in Culver Haven for coffee and cake. From there we went on to Bembridge Fort where we were greeted by Tony Tutton of the National Trust for an enlightening tour of this huge Victorian defensive structure. A large hole was dug into the White Chalk about 150 years ago and the fort then constructed inside mainly of brick transported up the small road. This left a deep defensive ditch, and the fort could only be reached by drawbridge. A tour around the interior of this fort led by Tony showed just how vast it is inside. On the upper part of the Fort there are a number of later modifications and some unusual objects. Here is a 'mortar spigot'. The mortar would be placed on the stud on the top and aimed at any attackers climbing the slopes below.The excavation work to build the fort must have been extremely arduous and the amount of Chalk excavated all had to be removed. This area of the Chalk is rich in fossils so there must have been many thousands removed along with the rubble. Just where did it all go? And what a time to be a fossil collector!We aim to lead this walk again during the 2014 Walking Festival.Bembridge Down was purchased by the National Trust in the 1960's. It overlies sedimentary rocks of the Cretaceous - including those ranging from the softer Atherfield Clay Formation to the White Chalk.Click on the picture for a link to the Isle of Wight pages of the National Trust.
In late September Dinosaur Isle took part in an international conference hosted by the University of Southampton. The subject was the dinosaur palaeontology of the early Cretaceous rocks of the Isle of Wight (the Wealden) compared to the rocks of similar age in northern China (the Jehol).Led by Dr Gareth Dyke of the University of Southampton the speakers began by presenting the results of their latest research on day one at the National Oceanography Centre in Southampton, Hampshire; before travelling to the Isle of Wight on day two to examine outcrops of the Wealden and visit Dinosaur Isle and the Needles Park.The field trips were led by staff from Dinosaur Isle and former curator Steve Hutt.A report on the conference has been provided by Stuart Pond, a Research Associate at the University of Southampton.Click here to download a copy of Stuart's report.
After a break of two years the Fort Victoria Foray was re-established this year. With Hants and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, West Wight Landscape Partnership and the Isle of Wight Council being the main sponsors of this countryside show we were guarenteed good weather.Dinosaur Isle had a table in the main marquee on the sea front in front of the newly refurbished Victorian Fort, west of Yarmouth. We were able to show some of Dinosaur Isle's fossils from its handling collection, hand out loads of colouring sheets to children and generally chat to everyone about the fossils and their own fossil collecting experiences. Ably assisted by Steve Hutt and Penny, with their huge elephant leg bone found on the Island, we answered enquiries from over two hundred people on the day.Two beach fossil walks were run for the visitors - the first one in the morning run by Penny and Steve, and the second afternoon one led by Trevor. With about 60 participants on the two walks we were able to find a lot of Eocene fossils on the beach, including turtle shell fragments, gastropods, bivalves and the odd piece of aligator armour. (Thanks are also due to the Lifeboat crew who warned us of the impending wash from their training display with the helicopter and RIB).
In March this year Dinosaur Isle was visited by palaeontologist Dean Lomax. Dean spent a week visiting the museum itself, and our store of fossils to describe and photograph some of our best specimens to feature in the upcoming book. “Dinosaurs of the British Isles” is a book that will cover every significant dinosaur find to have come from the British Isles, something that has never been done. It will feature hundreds of photographs, as well as life reconstructions of the dinosaurs by Nobumichi Tamura (co-author) and skeletal reconstructions by Scott Hartman, along with discussions and descriptions of the specimens, and what makes them so important to us. Dean’s visit to the museum further bolsters the importance of the Isle of Wight, and the collection that Dinosaur Isle holds. During his work for the book museums that were involved included the Natural History Museum, London; Oxford University Museum of Natural History; Ulster Museum; the Scottish National Museum; the Institute of Vertebrate Palaeontology and Palaeoanthropology (Beijing, China); Liaoning Paleontological Museum (Liaoning, China); Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, and many more.Dean and Nobumichi’s book “Dinosaurs of the British Isles” is to be published by Siri Scientific Press in 2014.Reconstructions by Nobumichi Tamura: http://spinops.blogspot.co.uk/ Skeletal reconstructions by Scott Hartman: http://www.skeletaldrawing.com/ Siri Scientific Press: http://www.siriscientificpress.co.uk/Pages/default.aspx
During 2012 Annette and John McCarthy from Tasmania discovered two parts of a dinosaur tooth while walking along Yaverland beach near our museum. This turned out to be the upper part of a very large tooth from the dinosaur Baryonyx walkeri. The picture was taken on the beach when it was found. The £2 coin is for scale.They very generously donated their find to our museum where we have put it on display, and have posted a replica to them in Tasmania.The dinosaur Baryonyx was first found by amateur collector William Walker in 1983 in a Surrey brick pit (he managed to find a large part of a hand claw). He reported it to the Natural History Museum; and their Department of Palaeontology put together an excavation team and recovered much of the remaining dinosaur. The species part of the name (walkeri) was given to recognize the significant role he played in its discovery.Baryonyx has also been found on the Island as scattered remains but the McCarthy tooth would be one of the largest found on the Island. We have numbered it IWCMS 2012.594, and although we only have the upper part, comparison with the Natural History Museum Bulletin on Baryonyx walkeri gives an estimate of about 14.4cm for the overall length. (Sketch is adapted from Milner & Charig, 1997 - Fig. 18 B)This dinosaur is unusual in that it has teeth that have many similarities with crocodiles, and is much thicker than the usual knife-like teeth of the meat-eating theropods. Remains of fish in the stomach of Baryonyx and the unusual shape of its skull have led many palaeontologists to conclude that it mainly hunted in rivers and ate large fish much like modern Canadian bears.It is possible that some of the larger carnivorous dinosaur footprints and casts that we find preserved in ancient river sands belong to Baryonyx.Reference:Charig, A.J. & Milner, A.C. 1997. Baryonyx walkeri, a fish-eating dinosaur from the Wealden of Surrey. Bulletin of the Natural History Museum: Geology Series. Natural History Museum: London. Vol. 53. No. 1. pp11-70.
Dinosaur Isle was the first port of call today for members of the Press as part of an event to announce a new movie called "WALKING WITH DINOSAURS: THE 3D MOVIE" produced by BBC Earth Films in conjunction with a number of partners including 20th Century Fox. The press arrived in spectacular style on one of Hovertravel's cross-Solent Hovercraft which glided gracefully onto the beach in front of the museum.One of the purposes of the visit was to launch the installation of a number of enhanced reality app sites at six locations around the Island's southern coastline. Users of smartphones can download an app which is then triggered if the device is aimed at the QR code on top of a 'meteor' at the site. This will produce an image of the site with various flying pterosaurs and moving dinosaurs which can then be captured on the phone as a digital still.On arrival at Dinosaur Isle the press were given an introduction to the Island's dinosaur heritage and the movie by representatives of Visit Isle of Wight, the BBC and 20th Century Fox. The Isle of Wight was selected for the press event after it was declared the dinosaur capital of the UK according to a new dinosaur map of Britain compiled by Dr Paul Barrett, Merit Researcher from the Natural History Museum.Apps can be downloaded from the Apple App Store or from Google Play by searching for "DINOSAUR ISLAND ISLE OF WIGHT".
Click here for the Visit Isle of Wight Press website.Click here for the Visit Isle of Wight App download webpage.Click here for the Walking with Dinosaurs advert. Further information on the locations and other links may be added to this article later.
Dinosaur Isle's brief language leaflets have now been joined by an Italian version; produced by Alina Maslowski who kindly offered to produce one for us after visiting recently.Click here for the Guides download webpage.
Dinosaur Isle was visited during May by experts from the British Geological Survey to take a series of 3D pictures using laser scanners of the important fossils in the collection.Amongst the objects scanned by laser was this rare Cretaceous turtle skull from Sandownia harrisi. Some of the fossils were also photographed to produce 3D images which can be viewed using coloured spectacles.“The International Code on Zoological Nomenclature and the International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi and plants require that every species or subspecies of organism, whether living or fossil, should have a type or reference specimen to define its characteristic features. The GB3D Type Fossils Online project, funded by JISC (Joint Information Systems Committee), aims to develop a single database of the type specimens, held in British collections, of macrofossil species and subspecies found in the UK, including links to photographs (including 'anaglyph' stereo pairs) and a selection of 3D digital models.” Dinosaur Isle is home to a number of fossils that represent the first organism of that type to be described – and which then becomes the ‘master’ copy for future scientific reference. These are referred to as ‘Type specimens’. Some of Dinosaur Isle’s fossils have only been found on the Island, and for others like the carnivorous dinosaur Eotyrannus lengi only one skeleton has been found. Once the data has been processed it will be uploaded to the website www.3d-fossils.ac.uk
Dinosaur Isle is currently host to a fantastic balloon-tyred off-road wheelchair which we use to support disabled access by visiting school children to some of our fossil trip sites. The chair has been purchased to enable disabled children to gain access to outdoor areas they would previously have struggled to reach.The chair can also be hired for child use on the Island for one day to suitable sites. A returnable deposit of £25 and proof of identity will be required; and a simple loan agreement form will also need to be completed.Please telephone us on (01983) 404344 for further details. or click here to download a Short Breaks Programme for 2013 which contains contact details (last two pages).
The Isle of Wight has been declared the dinosaur capital of the UK according to a new Dinosaur Map of Britain compiled by Dr Paul Barrett, Merit Researcher from The Natural History Museum to mark the launch of Primeval: New World on Watch, which continues Tuesdays at 9pm.Dr Paul Barrett conducted a report of prehistoric activity over the past 336 years identifying the key dinosaur hotspots around the UK. The Isle of Wight, a popular tourist spot off the south coast, has come out on top, beating the famous Jurassic Coast in Dorset, as the richest area for dinosaur fossil finds with skeletons over 125 million years old.Dr Barrett commented: "This map highlights some of the most recent dinosaur discoveries in the UK, as well as the large number of finds made historically. Dinosaur fossils are still found on a regular basis in the cliffs and quarries of the UK and many more surprises are likely to be waiting in the rocks".
Dinosaur Isle's Christmas sale is now over but remaining Christmas stock is still available at 50% off, and chocolate at 30% off.
'Blast from the Past' was revived again this year; a weekend festival dedicated to all things ancient dug up on the Island and around the Solent area.Local Island museums and collectors were joined by fossil collectors and metal detectorists from the Isle of Wight and mainland who displayed their finds to an eager audience.On hand to identify fossils that were brought in by the public were the museum's experts; as well as staff and students from the Natural History Museum and the University of Portsmouth.Talks were provided throughout the weekend, and two guided walks to see the local geology and fossils at the nearby Yaverland beach were well attended.We were ably assisted by our colleagues from the Island Heritage Service, and for the first time this year we welcomed exhibitors from Brading Roman Villa.Children were entertained by a variety of activities including face painting and model-making, while the adults were free to peruse the displays and ask questions of the many exhibitors.
Gary Blackwell was presented with his degree this month. Although he finished his studies in October 2011, the degree award ceremony did not take place until October of this year. Gary joins the list of Dinosaur Isle staff who over the years have continued to study part-time at higher education level. "I qualified for my BSc in Natural Sciences with The Open University, in October 2011, (the actual graduation ceremony was on the 27th October 2012 - the last Open University presentations of the year ). The modules that I studied included geology, ecology, biology and evolutionary biology. The geology modules were mainly focused on sedimentary processes, the formation of sedimentary structures, relating to marine and terrestrial environments and ecosystems. The ecology modules were based on palaeoecologies and modern ecologies; for example how living and extinct organisms evolve and interact with changes in climate. The later biology modules included work on the uniformity and diversity of extinct and living animals and plants; their relationships, anatomy, interactions with each other, and survival strategies. Towards the end of my studies the evolutionary biology module dealt with evolution of plants and animals, their relationships and phylogeny, covering interactions with each other during their evolution. Studying with The Open University was very rewarding I would recommend it to anyone. The Open University has a high reputation for the standard of its courses and the support given to students throughout their study. The Open University is also a world leader in all aspects of scientific research. The most enjoyable areas of study for me were those that dealt with present and ancient ecology and environment (especially the evolutionary biology module). My study with The Open University has been invaluable with my work here at Dinosaur Isle, especially when interpreting palaeontology, palaeoenvironments and palaeoecology, and the inter-actions of each."
Neovenator is the latest Isle of Wight dinosaur to undergo changes on Dinosaur Isle's website. The original fossil material was found initially in 1978 and then excavated over the following years. More fossils from other Neovenators have been found since.The early website for Dinosaur Isle contained only limited information on each of our Island dinosaurs - this is progressively changing, one dinosaur at a time. We hope you like the new information (and the numerous pictures) that has been added to our website. This is not the end of the changes, each page is likely to be updated with more text and pictures (and of course links to research websites as they become available).Click here for the Neovenator webpage.
Shanklin beach below Knock Cliff provides one of our more interesting sites for Dinosaur Isle's guided fossil walks.Towering above the beach are marine sediments deposited during the time of the Cretaceous. At the base of the cliffs are the dark Ferruginous Sands. The nearest shoreline lay at least three miles to the north when these sands settled to the sea-floor. Above them, behind a step in the cliff, lie the soft yellow sands and grey silty muds of the Sandrock. These are interpreted as being deposited in a time of alternating coastal estuaries and mud flats. It is from the lower clay layers of the Sandrock that we are able to find fossilised wood, complete with preserved tree rings. These pieces of wood floated out to sea and were preserved in sea-floor sediments.During early July of 2012, heavy rainfall led to a number of toppling failures and slides in the sands above. On one of our fossil walks we were able to watch (from a safe distance) a large tree slide down the cliff. A new waterfall appeared from the area that the tree fell from, and this can still be seen as a gully high in the top of the cliff. As trips continued throughout August we were able to see the evidence of further slides of sand. The cliff by Yellow Ledge has receeded by several metres as the wet sands have been torn away by high tides.The erosion in this area occurs because porous rocks lay over a clay band half way up the cliff and all of the rocks dip gradually towards the sea. When it rains the sands above become unstable and slide or fall to the beach. This natural erosion provides sand for the beach below, and also further into Sandown Bay by long-shore-drift. Without it we would see a much more rocky beach.
Iguanodon is the latest dinosaur to be updated on the DINOSAURS area of our website. Each of the old web pages are gradually being replaced with a great deal more information and pictures. Eotyrannus was the first dinosaur page to be replaced, and Iguanodon has now also been updated. This has been an opportunity not only to provide a better picture of the dinosaurs that make the Island globally important, but to update the existing information with what we know today. The new web pages have been structured so that we can add to them as new research is published or new fossils are found. The new dinosaur pages are Eotyrannus and Iguanodon. We will be working on the replacement for Neovenator next.
A new model of the local dinosaur Eotyrannus lengi has gone on display at Dinosaur Isle. The bones from this small meat-eating dinosaur were first found by Gavin Leng amongst some fallen rocks at the base of the cliff in 1995. More remains were subsequently found by Steve Hutt and Gavin. Once excavated it became apparent that the museum was dealing with a new dinosaur, and so began the long process of describing it and giving it a new name. Eotyrannus - pronounced 'Ee-oh-tie-ran-us' is the genus name, and means 'Dawn tyrant'; lengi is the species name and is given after Gavin's surname. The new colour model is third scale, and is mounted within a case containing a number of other smaller models of dinosaurs, insects, fish and amphibians. It was created by local sculptor Andrew Cocks.The dinosaur pages on our website are undergoing a complete rewrite, and Eotyrannus is the first dinosaur to have been updated. Click here for further details.
The weather has been extremely good for us for the Easter school holidays (well almost). There was so much demand that we had to lay on an additional five guided fossil walks. A number of nice fossils were found by the participants, including pieces of dinosaur bone; and a pair of vertebrae on the last day's walk at Brook.Sandown Library laid on a number of story telling sessions (courtesy of Jenny Simon), and on Wednesday 11th she braved the crowds to tell a series of stories about dinosaur eggs in the Museum.
Over the last ten years our interactive displays, including our robot dinosaurs, have experienced a lot of use, and some of their parts have now gone far beyond their predicted service life. We have been embarking on a programme of repair to ensure they can continue to be enjoyed for many years to come.Dexter, our automated Neovenator dinosaur, has had all of his air-powered 'muscles' replaced, and has been given a new neck and a coat of paint.Our Eotyrannus replica dinosaur was looking a bit sad with his droopy head; so Gary, our former marine engineer has given him a bit of a facelift. The buttons on our interactive dinosaur map had finally given in after intense use by over half-a-million visitors so the entire electronics have now been replaced and a second sound effect added.A number of air-powered pistons on our Dilophosaurus robot have been replaced and it is now undergoing transformation into our local dinosaur Eotyrannus. We look forward to introducing some further interactive interpretation in the future.
The Dinosaur area of our website has been the the last remaining area that has needed to be upgraded, having remained the same since the museum first opened. It is now experiencing a major re-write. Eotyrannus is the first dinosaur to have been subjected to this treatment and Iguanodon will be next. Given the extent of the work it will be something you will see steadily changing throughout the year. We aim to reach a wider audience than previously; and try to introduce some findings from more recent research.
Work has started again on the conservation of a partial skeleton of a sauropod dinosaur found last year. This work needs time and a great deal of patience so it has to fit into the quiet parts of the year. Once the myriad small parts are reassembled and cleaned we may be in a position to provide some answers to what type of sauropod it is, and maybe why some parts were preserved while others were not. This dinosaur is sure to feature in further news articles as we learn more.
Tonight's episode of the BBC's Countryfile programme was based mainly on the Isle of Wight. Dinosaur Isle provided expertize for the feature on Island Chines, and the dinosaur footcasts that were revealed when they were eroded by the sea. Geologist Trevor Price from Dinosaur Isle braved the freezing conditions at Churchill Chine in Brook Bay for an early morning start to avoid the incoming tide. Although it appeared bright and sunny in the finished film footage it certainly wasn't warm and he was greatful for the fleece jacket loaned to him by the crew. BBC presenter Ellie Harrison was far braver when she ventured into the sea on a vintage surfboard at Compton Bay.
Gary Blackwell has completed a Science degree after many years of study. This article was placed on the website in April. We will be adding to the text here as Gary nears his award ceremony.
Saturday the twelfth has been the busiest day of November so far. ‘Blast from the Past’, our local Fossil Day, was so popular that we welcomed 930 visitors to see displays of local palaeontology, archaeology and natural history. Presented by local collectors, societies, Portsmouth University, the Natural History Museum, Island Heritage Service and other luminaries the public were given the opportunity to ask enquiring questions and celebrate some of the rich heritage that goes to make our Island and surrounding area so culturally fascinating. Exhibits ranged from ammonites to dinosaur bones, roman coins and military badges found by metal-detecting, and we even had a real live roman soldier in the building. Children’s activities were provided as well, including face-painting, model making and sorting thousands of microfossils. We thank all those who came together to make such a great day and look forward to the possibility of running an extended version next year.Click here for a selection of pictures from the day.
Research into a complex neural arch from an anterior caudal vertebra has resulted in it being identified from a new rebbachisaurid dinosaur (Dinosaur: Sauropoda) from the Wessex Formation of the Isle of Wight. The bone was originally found in 1983 by Steve Hutt and has been carefully conserved. Although there is not enough material to give this creature a new name it is an important addition to the known European rebbachisaurid dinosaurs Demandasaurus and Histriasaurus boscarollii. Reference:Mannion, P.D., Upchurch, P. & Hutt, S. 2011. New rebbachisaurid (Dinosauria: Sauropoda) material from the Wessex Formation (Barremian, Early Cretaceous), Isle of Wight, United Kingdom. Cretaceous Research. 32 (2011) 774-780.
This month has seen the creation of the first draft of an on-line catalogue of the fossils in the Museum's collection that have appeared in scientific publications. Two previous catalogues by Dr Jon Radley and Dr Martin Munt have now been updated, and the first draft is currently being reviewed. We hope to have this publication available for download in the not-too-distant future. The list demonstrates the importance of the Isle of Wight as an internationaly recognised area for global palaeontological research, and of the museum in acquiring and making available a diverse range of fossils from the Isle of Wight's distant past.
We apologise for the absence of reported news, it isn't that nothing has happened - quite the opposite! From an exciting dinosaur discovery to a wealth of new fossils that have come into the collection; there have been staff changes and lots of new things to do. This year's news will be retrospectively issued - watch this space ....
Dinosaur Isle attended Binstead Primary School's Time Traveller evening. A week of school events culiminated in an evening at which pupils and parents could see aspects of the Islands recent and ancient history. Fossils from the north coast of the Island (some from near the school) were taken along for pupils to sort and identify.Click here for the County Press article.
Trevor Price graduated with a Masters degree (MSc) in Museum Studies from Leicester University having studied a broad range of historical and modern issues related to museums and the changes they are facing.The course covered the place museums have in their community and the importance of strategic planning, communicating with museum audiences, managing the resources in the museum - from conservation of the objects to managing staff and volunteers, and finally exhibition and interpretive planning."Towards the end of the course we were asked to design a museum exhibition space, and I chose a large Roman Villa to base that on. The degree ended with research and production of a final dissertation on a topic of our choosing. I elected to identify a large number of museums in England that displayed fossils, and to research how they were interpreted in practice; and then to see if there was any correlation between any variation in interpretation with other factors including governance and staffing. It has been a fascinating course, and the opportunity to visit many other museums has proven extremely useful in my present job. ""The University of Leicester School of Museum Studies has been teaching students since 1966 and has a high reputation for the standard of its courses. Results of the 2008 National Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) demonstrated the strength of the University's research across all of its broad range of subject areas. The RAE adjudged Leicester to have world leading research in every subject panel and identified Museum Studies (at 65%) as having the highest proportion of world leading researchers compared with any other subject area in the UK." Source: University of Leicester website.
Alex Peaker was able to spend a number of weeks abroad on a palaeontological expedition." In December 2010 I was lucky enough to be able to join an expedition to Morocco with Portsmouth University. Led by Dr. David Martill and Robert Loveridge we spent a month exploring different areas of the country for many types of fossil.The main goal was further exploration of the Kem Kem Beds (a deposit renowned for its’ dinosaur fossils), to further contribute to palaeontological research of the area.We spent roughly two weeks camping in Gara Sbaa, a small area in the Sahara Desert and very close to the Algerian border. Fossil finds were plentiful with the sands and sandstones being littered with dinosaur and crocodile remains (with many superb teeth being found), several fish finds, and a few pterosaur remains.We also spent time working on a limestone deposit renowned for fish, reptile and ammonite fossils, as well as the phosphates that produce thousands of shark teeth every year.It was a brilliant experience, and I had a great time working in the area, and with the people that came. The University of Portsmouth along with others have produced several important papers on the area. "References:Martill, D. & Ibrahim, N. 2012. Aberrant rostral teeth of the sawfish Onchopristis numidus from the Kem Kem beds (?early Late Cretaceous) of Morocco and a reappraisal of Onchopristis in New Zealand. Journal of African Earth Sciences. Vol 64. pp 71-76.Martill, D., Ibrahim, N., Brito, P., Baidder, L., Zouhri, S., Loveridge, R., Naish, D. & Hing, R. 2011. A new Plattenkalk Konservat Lagerstatte in the Upper Cretaceous of Gara Sbaa, south-eastern Morocco. Cretaceous Research. Vol 32. pp433-446.Ibrahim, N., Unwin, D., Martill, D., Baidder, L. & Zouhri, S. 2010. A new pterosaur (Pterodactyloidea: Azhdarchidae) from the Upper Cretaceous of Morocco. Biological Sciences, Zoology and Animal Science Papers. PLoS ONE. Vol 5. Iss 5.
Why not make a day out visiting Sandown with a combined DinoZoo ticket. Visit Dinosaur Isle and the Isle of Wight Zoo with our dual entry ticket. With one indoor and one outdoor site, a cafe and two great shops we feel this will be a fantastic way to spend a day visiting modern animals that roam the Earth today, and their counterparts that lived here over 100 million years ago.Adults £10Children £6.50IW residents £8Senior £9Valid for winter weekends only, excluding Christmas.To contact the Zoo, please call (01983) 403883 or visit their website on www.isleofwightzoo.com
Dinosaur Isle has recently taken delivery of one of three Landeez all-terrain wheelchairs. The chairs have been specifically designed for outdoor use, and were developed specifically to enable people with disabilities to come into closer contact with nature.Thanks to the marine-grade stainless steel frame, tough anti-absorbent seating, and all-terrain wheels these chairs are great for 'off-tarmac' activities, and with inter-changeable pads can be used by children and adults alike.Through funding from Aiming High for Disabled Children, the Isle of Wight Council and NHS Isle of Wight are delighted to make these wheelchairs available for use to aid inclusion on school trips and group outings. There are three of the new wheelchairs and these will be located at locations around the Island (currently Dinosaur Isle, Beaulieu House and St. George's School). Further details regarding the Landeez Wheelchair can be sought in the first instance by contacting the Aiming High Team on (01983) 533523 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org
Fossils, prehistoric finds and other ancient artefacts collected from the Isle of Wight, Solent area and beyond.A day of exhibits and activities for all the family.
From flint axe heads to dinosaur bones, to the smallest of fossil insects.
FREE ENTRY TO THE MUSEUM ON THE DAY. Normal car-parking charges apply.
Chat to palaeontologists, archaeologists, natural historians and collectors from Dorset, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. See the Natural History Museum, Gosport SEARCH and Portsmouth University displays, and take part in activities run by the Isle of Wight Heritage Service. Face painting will be available for children.Activities for all ages. Weather permitting there will be two guided fossil walks running at Shanklin and Yaverland beaches. Both of these walks need to be pre-booked as spaces will be limited, and normal charges will apply. Call (01983) 404344 to book a place; adults £4.50, children £2.50, family group (2 adults and 2 children £13, family group (2+3) £15, concession (pensioner / student) £3.80.Brown's Cafe will be open for hot and cold food next door to the museum, car-park vouchers may be redeemed against purchases in Brown's Cafe only.
Exhibitors who would like a table should contact the Curator: Steve Hutt by phone on (01983) 404344 or by email at email@example.com
A new interactive display has now been installed in our first gallery. It was purchased with funds from Dinosaur Isle and grant-aid from MLA. Two shows are already available, one on Ichthyosaurs and a second with views of the Island's coastal geology. Both shows are operated directly from the touch-screen. More shows are being produced and will gradually be added.It is already proving popular with all ages, so we hope to have more of these around the museum in the future.The kiosk was supplied by Dicoll Ltd.
The first bones of the Nick Chase Iguanodon have now been displayed in Exhibition 2.This year's summer exhibition breaks with museum tradition in that the display will be actively built in full view of the public, with palaeontologists continuing conservation of the ancient fossil bones and building replicas for missing parts in the public museum space. The bones are being mounted on a steel frame, with space to add replicas for the missing neck vertebrae and head. By the time the display is finished the total length of the partial display will be about 10 metres from the tip of the nose to the end of the tail.Museum staff will be on hand to explain the work as it progresses. Further details are available on the Summer Exhibition part of our Events webpage.
Some of you may have noticed that the website has undergone a lot of changes recently. Individual themes are getting their own pastel colour backgrounds and the text is being chopped up to make it easier to read, and maintain in the future. Some areas of the website were written in a small font so these are systematically being changed. A lot of new information has already gone on, and links have been made easier to use; this change is going to continue over future months. The Dinosaur pages are due an overhaul - and we hope to have that available later this year. For schools there is a new page on what fossils are (in the Education section) - we aim to provide answers here to questions that our school visitors may have on what fossils are and how they form and change. Our Collections page now has information on new research papers that have been published since Dinosaur Isle opened, and we will be gradually adding some pictures of the more interesting objects that came in each year.
Seen above are some reptile claws from the Andy Yule collection. Andy is one of Dinosaur Isle's greatest contributors and has given thousands of specimens from the Palaeogene formations of the Island. He has succeded in having fossils named in his honour, including a spider: Vectaraneus yulei. Crocodiles, turtles, fish, insects, feathers and many others all go to make the collection. A special case exhibits a few of Andy's fossils.
Somewhere in all that rubble Nick Chase is sat by are the hips of a large dinosaur he found. How long is this going to take to piece together? It's like having an enormous 3D jigsaw puzzle with some of the bits missing and no picture to refer to. Many of our Island dinosaurs come to us like this - lots of similar pieces carefully collected and packaged. Cleaning the bones, identifying them and then piecing them together may take many years to complete.
Two large neck bones (cervical vertebrae) from an enormous dinosaur called Iguanodon have been prepared by Martin New. The bones were originally covered in a grey clay to form a lumpy block, and were found to be extremely crumbly underneath. The two vertebrae have twisted against each other after the death of the animal producing the unusual shape we see in the pictures.The bones were found by Stephen Birch and kindly donated to the museum. Now that they have been stabilized they have gone on display in a case outside our Education Room.The size of the two bones indicates that the animal must have been amongst the largest of the type Iguanodon bernissartensis to have lived here about 125 million years ago.We would love to be able to find some more of this huge dinosaur.
After many months consultation the second version of the Isle of Wight LGAP has been issued, and is now available on-line from this website. In simple terms the LGAP identifies how important the variety of geology and fossils we have on the Island is, and sets out a number of actions to publicise and conserve the most important for existing and future generations. A copy may be downloaded from the LGAP page within the Collections and Research part of our website.
Painstaking work by Gary Blackwell in our lab to expose and conserve a fragile, and fragmented, skull has now finished. The skull is from a large Wealden (early Cretaceous) crocodile that once swam in our Island rivers over 120 million years ago.It was covered in iron sulphide crystals and a tough mudstone called siderite which needed patient removal if the underlying bone was not to be damaged. The fossil was found in 14 separate fragments which have now been bonded back together as far as possible (there are some missing bits which were lost to erosion a long time ago).The skull was found and prepared alongside an exceptionally preserved vertebra from the same specimen.
We turned up on Wednesday morning to find the whole world had turned white. Fortunately the wildlife on the lake was being well-fed by the local community, and although the lake had frozen over the birds didn't seem to mind.
A fine specimen of a fossil toe bone from the large plant-eating dinosaur Iguanodon was found on the beach on New Year's Eve. Oscar Petter (seven years old) from Kent, found the bone at Yaverland and brought it into Dinosaur Isle for identification. After visiting the museum with his parents they then went out onto the nearby beach where they found the bone. Steve Hutt, Curator at Dinosaur Isle identified the fossil. The toe bone is going back home to Kent temporarily to show Oscar's school. It will then come back to Dinosaur Isle for temporary display.
During 2010 we will be reconstructing part of a skeleton from a truly massive Iguanodon that has been generously donated to the museum by local collector Nick Chase. Work has now begun to put together this collection of bones, for display throughout the summer. Past exhibitions have been assembled in the lab and then put out into our main gallery prior to the school summer holiday. This year it will be different - the assembly will take place gradually, with preparation and reconstruction occuring in the public exhibition area. Visitors will be able to see the work as it proceeds and ask questions of the staff and volunteers. See our Summer Exhibition webpage for further details.
The Isle of Wight has been chosen by children’s TV character ‘Little Howard’ to star in an episode of the popular CBBC series from ‘Little Howard’s Big Question’. Episode 7 of 13, broadcast on CBBC and entitled Could Dinosaurs Ever Come Back, sees Little Howard, an animated six-year boy, and his human housemate, Big Howard, take a fascinating journey around the Island as they attempt to answer questions about the world around them. Council-run Dinosaur Isle museum on Sandown seafront was consulted and used as the main focus for the programme, which sees Little Howard travelling back to the Jurassic period to “meet a real Dinosaur Hunter on the Isle of Wight and discover how many kinds of prehistoric creatures are just lying on the beach, waiting to be unearthed”. The Island contains some of the most beautiful coastal scenery in Britain and the cliffs expose a great variety of rock types that can tell us, from their composition and fossils, what the Earth was like from 125 million years ago.Peter Pusey, Dinosaur Isle’s General Manager said: “When it comes to fossil finds, the Island takes some beating so we were delighted when the BBC asked for our help. “Not only is the programme a fun way to introduce young children to the world of palaeontology, but it’s also great promotion for the Island and its Dinosaur Isle status”.
For media enquires please contact: Sue Emmerson, Communications, Isle of Wight Council. Telephone: (01983) 823099, extension 5236; or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Chairman of the Isle of Wight Council hosted his annual coffee morning on Saturday 21 November 2009 to raise money for his chosen Island charities, the Earl Mountbatten Hospice and Haylands Farm. Members of the public were invited to join Councillor Arthur Taylor at Dinosaur Isle on Culver Parade in Sandown between 10am and 1pm for tea, coffee and a selection of cakes. All those attending the coffee morning received free entry into Dinosaur Isle museum. Cllr Arthur Taylor said: "I look forward to welcoming people to Dinosaur Isle for my fundraising coffee morning. Dinosaur Isle has been very generous in providing the venue for our coffee morning and I hope many people will join me for a cup of coffee in support of these worthwhile Island causes."
Palaeontologists Roger Benson, Matthew Carrano and Stephen Brusatte have decided that the large meat-eating dinosaur Neovenator (only found on the Isle of Wight so far) represents the oldest member of a whole new group of dinosaurs. They have given this new group the name Neovenatoridae; it includes a number of other large carnivorous dinosaurs like Megaraptor, Chilantosaurus and Australovenator. One of the last members of this group is Orkoraptor – it survived until the end of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. Neovenatoridae fossils have been found on more than one continent, with representatives in Australia, China and Argentina helping to demonstrate that the world was a very different place then. They published their findings this October in the journal Naturwissenschaften.
It is 200 years since the birth of Charles Darwin, and 150 years since the publication of his famous book ’On the Origin of Species’. As part of their Darwin 200 celebrations the Isle of Wight Zoo and Dinosaur Isle joined with the IW Writer’s Circle to invite Darwin’s great, great granddaughter, poet Ruth Padel, to the Isle of Wight for a special evening of poetry. The event took place in the magnificent main hall of Dinosaur Isle. Surrounded by fossil evidence for Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection, it was a very appropriate setting for Ruth to read from her latest book ‘Darwin - a life in poems’.Ruth’s mastery of the English language, coupled with intriguing glimpses into her family history, kept the audience spellbound throughout the evening.
Dinosaur Isle staff went to Lyme Regis for the annual fossil fair - this time titled 'Evolution Rocks - uncoiling the past'. The fair was open to the public from Friday 22nd to Sunday 24th of May. Lots of exhibitors, including the Natural History Museum, British Antarctic Survey, National Museum of Wales, Plymouth University and National Oceanography Centre, Southampton were there to show off their fossil and geology displays including Martin New and Gary Blackwell from Dinosaur Isle. Lots of fossils were carried down from the museum for the weekend and set up on tables in marquee 2 in the town centre. Plenty of visitors came to the stand so we look forward to them coming to the Island to see what else we have to offer.
Jonah Choiniere from The George Washington University, Washington DC, visited us at the beginning of May to look at the type specimens of Neovenator and Eotyrannus. His PhD research is focusing on describing new species of theropods (meat-eating) dinosaurs from the Late Jurassic of China - some of their closest relatives are from the Isle of Wight. He is comparing the skeletal anatomy of the new Chinese theropods and the Isle of Wight theropods with a view to understanding the evolution of these interesting animals.
Andy Yule, a local collector of fossils from the north coast of the Island, has donated a large part of his collection to the museum. We are currently recording and identifying the individual objects. Fossil insects, plants and reptiles are included within the collection. Some of the objects are being packed, but a number have gone on display in a new case in our Education Room. A great deal of work remains in the precise identification of the smaller objects - there remains a lot of scope for research into the specimens and we are greatful to Andy for his substantial donation.
A new video microscope has been installed in Gallery 1 to enable visitors to appreciate the smallest fossils from our collection. The Isle of Wight is a rich source for internationally important micro-fossils which include insects and the remains of other small creatures including fish, snakes, pollen, seeds and tiny gastropods. It is often difficult to display these small remains in an accessible manner. The microscope and its viewing screen is a useful tool that allows the visitor to see the extraordinary preserved detail of some of these important fossils. The initial display includes a collection of teeth, vertebrae, insects and a feather from the end of the Eocene, about 35 million years ago. The purchase of the microscope has been the result of a joint-funded project between Dinosaur Isle and MLA (Museums Libraries Archives Partnership) through the Renaissance Museum Development Fund.
For some years now Dinosaur Isle (and its predecessor the Museum of Isle of Wight Geology) has run a popular programme of guided walks to places of palaeontological and geological interest on the Island. Most of these are for visiting schools, but additional trips have run throughout school holidays for the public and special-interest groups like societies and clubs. In recent years the number of sites available for public walks has increased and trips are becoming increasingly popular. More details of the year's planned trips are available on the Events webpage. A pdf version of the leaflet can now be downloaded by clicking here.
Wightlink's new booklet Wight History Trail spotlightlights the Island's diverse history and takes in some of its most scenic heritage attractions on a 33-stop tour that traces the history of Wight from its birth in prehistoric times to the present day - and includes dinosaurs, Romans, smugglers and wreckers, medieval knights and imprisoned royals, inventors, rock heroes and rocket men. Dinosaur Isle, and the rich geological and palaeontological heritage of the Island, feature in stunning colour in this high quality guide. Click on the image to access the Wightlink website and download a copy.
Pupils from Sandown High School visited us as part of a Community Rail Partnership project. They were researching a Line Guide produced to promote tourism without traffic to local 2-for-1 attractions in the rail corridor for visitors who could produce a valid rail ticket. They brought with them a detailed list of questions for our staff on how rail travel was being used by our visitors as a means of getting here, and how we felt rail travel may be extended or improved. The group has already produced a leaflet on the Sandown Rail Trail and are in the process of producing a large colour book detailing all the projects the CRP, school children and the community have worked on since 2005. For further details contact Bobby Lock, Rail Development Officer for the Isle of Wight Community Rail Partnership, Ryde St. John's Road Station, Ryde, Isle of Wight. PO33 2BA
Recent research into the remains of Neovenator salerii, a large carnivorous dinosaur from the Isle of Wight, has established that it is the most complete theropod dinosaur in Europe; and that it forms the earliest member of a group of dinosaurs called the Carcharodontosauridae, a group containing the north-American dinosaur Allosaurus.
Dinosaur Isle displays much of the master specimen (holotype). The work has been published in a new volume produced by The Palaeontographical Society.
For further details please contact the Curator.
Brusatte, S.L., Benson, R.B.J. & Hutt, S. 2008. The osteology of Neovenator salerii (Dinosauria: Theropoda) from the Wealden Group (Barremian) of the Isle of Wight. Monograph of the Palaeontographical Society, London: 1-75, pls 1-45. (Publ. No. 631, part of Vol. 162 for 2008).
Dinosaur Isle and the Isle of Wight Council's Museum Service has gained Accredited Status with the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council. The Accreditation Scheme sets nationally agreed standards for UK museums. To qualify, museums must meet basic requirements on how they care for and document their collections, how they are governed and managed, and on the information and services they offer to their users.
A pupil from Stisted CE Primary School was very lucky to find a really nice specimen of a fossil tooth from the large dinosaur Iguanodon. Cameron Haythorpe was on one of our guided school field trips at Yaverland when he found the dinosaur tooth. The tooth has gone to his school near Braintree in Essex. Iguanodon is a plant-eater but still needs pointy teeth, with serations, to chew through the tough plant material it fed on. The tooth is un-erupted, it hasn't developed any wear-facets. We would like to thank Mr Martin Hawrylak (headteacher) for forwarding us the picture which shows just how big the tooth is. There would have been a root on the tooth but this is missing, presumably it either failed to fossilize or went missing after the fossil fell out of the cliff.The sketch below shows how the teeth slotted together in the lower jaw.
Nigel Marven, presenter of Prehistoric Park, Walking with Dinosaurs, Big Cats and Jaguar Adventure provided an enormously entertaining illustrated talk at Dinosaur Isle to a packed audience. The event was organized by our neighbours at the I.W. Zoo to coincide with their Tiger Week. Charlotte Corney and Tracy Dove, along with other I.W. Zoo and Dinosaur Isle staff supported Nigels talk. The tickets sold out rapidly once advertized - the family audience had many questions afterwards for Nigel. The film of the snake biting his hand and the blood running down his arm prompted many questions. It was an enjoyable experience - if you can get to see Nigel at any of his talks elsewhere then I would highly recommend it.
Two fantastic specimens of the small Isle of Wight dinosaur Hypsilophodon foxii have gone on display. Found originally by Islanders Mick Green and Nick Chase the specimens have undergone some preparatory work to further expose the exquisite bones. This famous dinosaur was named after the Reverend William Fox, former curate at Brighstone, on the Island. There are more English dinosaurs named after him than anyone else.
Former colleague Dr Martin Munt has left us to work at the Natural History Museum, where he now has responsibility for an important part of the national collection. The post at Dinosaur Isle was advertized, and after stiff competition was awarded to Steve Hutt. Steve has extensive knowledge of the dinosaurs of the Isle of Wight, having named some of them and produced a number of important research papers. A programme of enhancing the displays to put more of the Island's fossils on show, and to upgrade the facilities has begun.
Our Education Room now has a Canadian 77" Smartboard for use with visiting groups. We aim to produce a number of Powerpoint slideshows and our own videos on the fossils and geology of the Isle of Wight. The screen has already been used for a number of corporate meetings, which make use of the Education Room when a gap can be found in our busy school programme. Our first in-house production will supplement the summer exhibition. This will be a really useful addition to our education resources.
February half-term saw the half-million reached. We have been receiving visitors for almost seven years since opening in August 2001. Our milestone visitor walked through the doors unaware of the event, as did we until afterwards. Here's looking forward to the next half-million!
Telegraph reporter Roger Highfield visited Dinosaur Isle to follow up the story of the pterosaur bone found by six-year old Owain Lewis whilst on holiday on the Isle of Wight.
Click here for the Daily Telegraph article.
A six year-old boy has unearthed rare pterosaur bones on the Isle of Wight.
Owain Lewis was on holiday with his family when he discovered the fossil - part of a flying reptile called a pterosaur - while hunting for the relics at Compton Bay near Freshwater.
The 120 million year old find comprises wing bones of the extinct flying reptile which soared above the skies of the Isle of Wight during the Lower Cretaceous Period. At the time the area was a coastal lagoon occupied by crocodiles and dinosaurs.
Pterosaurs are rare finds becasue their bones are very delicate, like those of birds which also do not preserve well. They may represent an Ornithocheirid pterosaur which had a four metre wingspan - a new species - one of which was found at Sandown four years ago (see text below). Alternatively, the bones may come from another type of Pterosaur, Istiodactylus which had an estimated wingspan of five metres.
Owain and his father Glyn reported their find to experts at the Dinosaur Isle Museum in Sandown. The bones have since been sent to the Natural History Museum in London where they will be analysed by the museum's pterosaur experts.
Owain's mum Kaye said: "Most six year old boys are interested in dinosaurs but Owain seems to be exceptionally keen. He is always coming back with boxes of things he has found.
"When he went to the Island, he knew he would get a few finds and he is chuffed to bits that he has discovered something so important. We would like to think he would follow a career in palaeontology but we will see."
Dr Martin Munt Curator of Geology at the museum said: "The bones are folded against each other which is usually seen when such finds are made.
"We are very pleased that Owain brought the find to us. It re-enforces our reputation as one of the main areas in the United Kingdom where anyone can find rare dinosaur bones, just by going out for a walk on the beach."
Staff have begun removing material from a corridor display case. This large case formerly held memorobilia related to dinosaurs, including Jurassic Park drinks, dinosaur slippers and wallpaper. The case is being changed in order to display fossils collected by visitors to the museum, be they local or on holiday. Some fantastic objects, including lobsters, dinosaur footcasts and an alligator lower jaw, have already gone on show. This case will gradually change as new items come into the museum.
Dinosaur Isle maintained its high standard of environmental awareness by winning Gold again in the Green Island Environmental Award scheme. The museum has retained gold for three years running. This year the museum grounds have been enhanced with a drought-tolerant garden planted with salt-tolerant species.
The Isle of Wight's Footprint Trust and a local conservation group 'Green Gym' rolled up their sleeves to create a drought-tolerant garden in a bed in front of Dinosaur Isle in spring 2007. Experts in the Council's Parks and Countryside section designed the planting scheme; it should also be resistant to salt spray in this exposed coastal location.The scheme was an initial idea of the Footprint Trust. It was created due to concerns about climate change, which is causing a dramatic transformation in weather patterns, leading to record breaking heat waves and droughts across Europe."If carbon dioxide in the atmosphere continues to be increased by human activities the environment will warm up to a climate suitable for dinosaurs" said Ray Harrington-Vail of the Footprint Trust.The garden will require little or no artificial watering and will also be beneficial to birds and butterflies. Plants chosen include spurge, ice plant, seakale, sea holly, silver spear, fountain grass and New Zealand flax. This work is part of the Footprint Trust's Waterworks project supported by the AONB Sustainable Development Fund and EU Leader+. It links to the IW Council's One Million Blooms initiative, which seeks to create drought-friendly planting in parks and open spaces.In addition to planting the scheme has been complemented by the use of feature rocks and gravel sourced from Bardon Vectis. Island Waste Compost derived from recycled garden waste has also been used to avoid peat-based products.
For the second year running Dinosaur Isle was awarded the Gold Standard at the Green Island Award ceremonies at Cowes on the 25th of May 2006. In addition to its Gold Award for meeting strict criteria for its environmental impact Dinosaur Isle was nominated for Attraction of the Year alongside Ventnor Botanical Gardens and Chessel Pottery Barns. Dinosaur Isle and Ventnor Botanical Gardens (the winner) are both currently run by the same part of the Isle of Wight Council thus demonstrating the Council's efforts in reducing its environmental footprint. The awards were presented at the prestigious Cowes Yacht Haven. Peter Pusey (general manager) and Trevor Price (Community Learning Officer) represented the museum at the presentation. Over 90 tourism related businesses are taking part in the scheme and the trend is for this number to increase in future years.
The National Lottery have awarded Dinosaur Isle a Blue Plaque in recognition of its contribution towards the educational experience it provides for school children.
Dinosaur Isle is aiming to produce an e-newsletter to keep its many fans aware of what has been happening in the past months.
The first issue is now available from our Newsletters page.
For further information please contact Trevor Price, Community Learning Officer
tel: (01983) 404344
Local fossil collector Andy Yule has been awarded with the Mary Anning Award by the Palaeontological Association. The honour is awarded annually to amateur palaeontologists for outstanding contributions to the science of palaeontology. Andy has collected fossils for many years from the north-west coast of the Island, including remains of turtles, alligators, insects and plants. A spider he found has been named in his honour. Andy makes his finds known to the scientific community and reports them to Dinosaur Isle and the Natural History Museum. Andy's award was presented by Dr David Loydell, of the University of Portsmouth, vice-president of the Palaeontological Association. The award was presented at a special ceremony at Dinosaur Isle. Andy has also collected archaeological finds which he has donated to the IW Museum Service.
Around 125 million years ago, the carcase of a pterosaur was washed into the mud at the bottom of a river. It lay there undisturbed until a few years ago, when coastal erosion removed it from its rocky tomb. Parts of the skull and wing bones were found on the beach by several different local collectors. Other parts may have been washed away already.
Pterosaurs were winged reptiles that lived at the same time as dinosaurs. The earliest pterosaurs are found in Triassic rocks in Italy, around 235 million years old. They survived until the end of the Cretaceous Period, by which point many large forms existed, with wingspans of over 12 metres. The reason for their extinction 65 million years ago is a mystery, but it was the end for many other animal and plant groups on Earth.
The new pterosaur from Sandown Bay belongs to a family called the Ornithocheiridae (‘bird hand’). They are large pterosaurs with crested skulls, long pointed teeth, and wingspans of around 4-6 metres. Ornithocheirids have been found in Cretaceous rocks in many parts of the world, particularly the UK, Brazil and North Africa.
The Sandown pterosaur is different from any that have been previously discovered, so it has been given a new name: Caulkicephalus trimicrodon. The generic name is derived from ‘caulkhead’, the traditional local name for people who caulked ships in the Solent shipyards. The species trimicrodon refers to the three small teeth near the front of the jaw.
The bones, which include the braincase, upper jaw and wing bones, were found on Yaverland beach by G. Leng, T. Winch, D. Davies, M. New, M. Munt, and L. Steel. The new pterosaur is described in the latest issue of the scientific journal Cretaceous Research, by a scientific team including Dinosaur Isle Museum, University of Portsmouth and the Humboldt Museum in Berlin.
The full reference is:Steel, L., Martill, D. M., Unwin, D. M. & Winch, J. D. (2005) A new pterodactyloid pterosaur from the Wessex Formation (Lower Cretaceous) of the Isle of Wight, England. Cretaceous Research (2005): 1-13. For further images and information please visit the Recent Finds and Research page.
National Geographic magazine has listed the Isle of Wight as being one of the most significant sites in the world for dinosaur finds.
In the August 2005 issue of the internationally renowned magazine, Thomas Holtz Jr, a Tyrannosaurus expert based at the University of Maryland, lists his top seven dinosaur sites in the world. He lists the Isle of Wight along with Liaoning Province, China; Bahariya, Egypt; Alberta, Canada; San Juan, Argentina; Ukhaa Tolgod, Mongolia and the western USA, confirming that despite rapid advances in the study of dinosaurs, the Island still has international recognition for its important dinosaur discoveries.The listing confirms that the Island remains the most important dinosaur site in Europe. The Island is classed with sites which have revolutionised our understanding of the dinosaurs and their world. As the study of dinosaurs is one of the most rapidly advancing areas in palaeontology, this underlines the global importance of the Island's dinosaur heritage.The significance of the Island is underlined by the fact that many of the listed sites cover hundreds of square miles, while the dinosaur rocks on the Island are restricted to about nine kilometres of narrow cliff exposure. The discovery of dinosaurs on the Island predates some of the other sites by as much as 150 years and the Island still has much to offer with new discoveries like Eotyrannus and the opportunity to look anew at familiar dinosaurs such as Iguanodon.The largest publicly owned collection of Island dinosaur finds is held at Dinosaur Isle Museum at Sandown, operated by the Isle of Wight Council. This year the collections have been accessed by researchers and students looking at carnivorous dinosaurs, fossil crocodiles, fossil turtles, jaws and teeth of herbivorous dinosaurs, amber and fossils from the Chalk. Earlier this year an international gathering of more than thirty specialists in fossil insects examined the collections. Next year the museum will act as the field base for another international gathering of geologists and palaeontologists, this time specialising in terrestrial ecosystems from the time of the dinosaurs, during which staff of the museum will lead field work and contribute talks.For further information please contact Martin Munt, Curator of Geology
Congratulations are due to Assistant Curator Lorna Steel who graduated with a PhD at Portsmouth University on the 18th July 2005. Dr Steel's PhD was awarded after successful completion of a programme of research in Studies on the palaeohistology of pterosaur bone. Lorna is now auditioning for a part on the set of Hogwarts.
What can bone histology tell us about pterosaurs?The study of pterosaur bone histology dates back to the middle of the 19th Century, but systematic studies only began recently. Pterosaur bones are predominantly composed of highly vascular fibrolamellar bone, indicating that pterosaurs grew rapidly. However, cranial and pedal bones contain LAGs (lines of arrested growth) which record pauses in bone deposition. Pterosaurs had determinate growth, and deposited an endosteal lamella and a periosteal EFS (external fundamental system) at maturity. Pterosaurian epiphyseal growth plates contain endosteal bone and calcified cartilage. Although endosteal reworking is extensive, secondary osteons are rare. Some smaller elements contain an orthogonal plywood-like tissue, composed of alternating lamellae, which may have biomechanical significance. Not all bones are supported internally by trabeculae; in some cases endosteal ridges may provide reinforcement. Pterosaurian reproductive mineral dynamics probably did not involve the deposition of a specialised bony tissue within the lumen of the long bones. Comparative bone histology can distinguish between bones of small theropod dinosaurs and pterosaurs, but cannot reliably separate birds from pterosaurs or distinguish between pterosaur taxa.
For further information please contact Lorna Steel
Year 6 pupils from an Upminster school visited Dinosaur Isle, along with a reporter from the Times. The trip was organised by local school-trips' organizer 'Isle of Wight Experience'. St.Joseph's is a regular visitor to the museum, and we look forward to seeing its staff and pupils on their annual trip to the Island.Click here for the TES article.
Bones from the biggest dinosaur so far reported by scientists in Europe have been discovered in the Isle of Wight. A single neck bone from the 125 million-year-old sauropod dinosaur – a long-necked plant-eating brontosaur – measures three-quarters of a metre long. Researchers from the Universities of Portsmouth and Oregon examined the bone and compared it to others found in the UK, and elsewhere, and were able to identify it as from the largest known dinosaur yet discovered in Europe.
Click here for the Daily Telegraph article.
The Isle of Wight’s Dinosaur Isle museum has recently acquired five Velociraptorine teeth – from dinosaurs related to the Velociraptors, made famous in the Jurassic Park movies.
The teeth date from the Early Cretaceous period and are approximately 120 million years old. They are the first record of this kind of dinosaur on the Isle of Wight and only the second from the UK.
The teeth come from a type of dinosaur closely related to Velociraptor (they belong to the same subfamily Velociraptorinae, of the family Dromaeosauride).
Three of the teeth were collected on the Isle of Wight between 1972 and 2003 by Mr Steve Sweetman and have been donated to the museum; two more were purchased by Dinosaur Isle Museum from another Island collector.
Steve Sweetman, a postgraduate student studying for a PhD at The University of Portsmouth, is writing a scientific paper on them for the Journal Cretaceous Research.
Aspects of the tooth growth morphology and a high denticle size difference index (an index obtained from the size and distribution of tooth serrations) allowed the identification to be made.
Curator of Dinosaur Isle, Martin Munt said, “The large size of the Isle of Wight teeth suggests an animal that may have been comparable in size to Utahraptor, an extremely large dromaeosaur from the Early Cretaceous of Utah. The Isle of Wight animal is likely to have been a large slender, fast moving predator perhaps as long as six metres. Along with its powerful jaws armed with backward-curving serrated teeth it is likely to have possessed long arms with clawed grasping hands and a sickle-like toe-claw, handy for disembowelling prey. Such an animal would have hunted small mammals and reptiles and small to medium sized dinosaurs. There is some evidence that such dinosaurs hunted in packs and that this would have increased the size range of prey that could be tackled.
“These teeth are an important find for Dinosaur Isle and also for palaeontology, as each new find brings us a clearer picture of the Cretaceous period in this region.”
For further information please contact Martin Munt or Lorna Steel
Dinosaur Isle Museum played host to an international seminar on British Dinosaurs on the 5th and 6th of November 2003.
The meeting saw presentations by many leading Dinosaur experts, including palaeontologists from Britain, Spain, France and the USA. The theme of the seminar was to place British dinosaur fossils in their global context.
The meeting was convened by Dinosaur Isle Curator Martin Munt and University of Portsmouth academic David Martill. Sponsorship came from The Palaeontological Association, Wightlink, the University of Portsmouth and The Isle of Wight Council.
Martin Munt said, “It is quite an historical event as it will be the first meeting of its kind dedicated to British dinosaurs. The Isle of Wight, with its new dinosaur museum, has been a focus of dinosaur discoveries in Europe, and is a natural host for such a seminar. “
Talks took place on the 5th November at the Quay Arts Centre in Newport, beginning at 10am, finishing at about 6pm. Approximately 100 delegates attended. On the 6th November there was a field trip to the south-west coast. A reception for the delegates was held at Dinosaur Isle Museum on the evening of the 5th when they had the opportunity to view the museum and some of its rare and exciting dinosaur fossils.
A Year 6 pupil found part of a vertebra from a rare lightweight meat-eating dinosaur whilst on a guided field-trip at Dinosaur Isle. The school, from Blackburn, was on a residential visit to the Island. The school was subsequently mentioned in the Times Education Supplement, where the pupil Louis Chadwick told the reporter he was keen to return to the Island with his dad. Click here for the TES article.
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