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3 Posts tagged with the ammonites tag
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Last night, Radio 4's Robin Ince kicked off this year's Lyme Regis Fossil Festival to the sound of scientific laughter. The festival, now in its 9th year, runs from 2-4 May over the bank holiday. Today is for schools, with all the public events happening on Saturday and Sunday.

 

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From fossil collecting to stone carving and rock pooling, the May bank holiday festival is awash with beachcombing fun for fossil fans, young and old.

 

As usual, a team of Museum scientists and learning educators will be showing off amazing specimens and answering fossil enquiries. Many are already there on the beach welcoming hoardes of schoolchildren. Others are busy stuffing rare objects (carefully) into their cars in readiness for the Jurassic adventures ahead. Can't make it to Lyme? Here at the Museum we'll be following our scientists there live in our free daily Fossil hunters talks.

 

Lil Stevens, plant fossils expert at the Museum, joins our festival possé for the first time.

 

'This year we will be bringing anthropologist Margaret Clegg to talk about ancient humans and our Britain: One Million Years of the Human Story exhbiition. And palaeontologists Pip Brewer and Jerry Hooker will showcase some very ancient mammals.

 

'You can sieve for sharks teeth with fish curator Emma Bernard and expert David Ward. If you can find them you can take them home with you! They will also show you how to use shark jaws and teeth to estimate the body size of some of the largest sharks ever to have lived.

 

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Sifting for sharks teeth at the Natural History Museum display in the Grand Marquee's Fossil Fair.

 

'Zoe Hughes, our cephalopod and brachiopod curator and I will be explaining how palaeontologists reconstruct fossils to work out how the animals looked when they were alive. Test your palaeo-skills with our drawing challenge! Palaeontologists Martin Munt and Noel Morris are Lyme veterans and will be on hand to answer all your most technical paleontological questions - so you'd better think of some.

 

'Those mysterious Museum mineralogists are planning a sparkling surprise so come down to the beach and see some very special pebbles...'

 

The weather forecast is erratic for the weekend, so dress for both sun and rain if you're going but, as always at this popular family event, there will be tonnes to see and do outdoors and inside the grand marquee and other venues.

 

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Horace, the Pliosaur (l) with the cinematic walk-in belly returns by popular demand.
Homo heidelbegensis (r) is new on the scene, arriving with our palaeontogolists and on show with their other ancient human exhibits.

 

Citizen science is this year's Fossil Festival theme and special treats include the return of Horace the Travelling Pliosaur, the Dinosaur Runway and MarineLife's whale and dolphin research ... as well as our own fantastic displays and fossil identification services of course.

 

The festival is free to attend, but some of the events are ticketed.

 

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The weather looks set to be fine for the May bank holiday weekend, so why not head down to the south coast where you can join our scientists and other festival-goers at the Lyme Regis Fossil Festival?

 

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Lyme Regis Fossil Festival, 3-5 May, full of fossil discoveries, arts, entertainment and coastal treasures. Select all images to enlarge.

 

The 8th annual Lyme Regis Fossil Festival on Dorset's renowned Jurassic coast is taking place from 3 to 5 May. The theme of this year's festival is 'Coastal Treasures' and as well as the fossil displays and talks, there is an abundance of entertainment for all ages. Perhaps a toe or two will be dipped in the sea too...

 

 

Get a glimpse of the experience in the Lyme Regis Fossil Festival's video

 

A big team of our scientists and learning staff have already set off for Lyme - we are regular partners of the event - and they will be setting up stalls in the Grand Marquee's Fossil Fair, which is open to the public on Saturday and Sunday.

 

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Mapping the Lyme rocks the mobile way on a coastal walk.

 

Among the intriguing specimens the scientists will display and discuss are ammonites, fish, sharks and a replica Baryonyx skull. They will join many others on fossilteering walks on the beaches and be leading hands-on activites like sieving for sharks' teeth, identifying visitors' fossil finds, and revealing the wonders of the 407-million-year-old Rhynie Chert rock deposit.

 

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Museum specimens on display this year: Fish and shark specimens found in Lyme Regis (left). Ammonite 'death assemblage', a common fossil found in Lyme Regis (right).

 

Nearer home in South Kensington, we're linking up live on video to the festival in our free Nature Live fossil talks in the Attenborough Studio on both Saturday and Sunday (12.30 and 14.30) if you're visiting the Museum.

 

There is, of course, a vast array of incredible fossils in the Museum itself, but specially look out for Fossils from Britain gallery, the Fossil Marine Reptiles gallery and our Earth Lab on your next visit.

 

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What intriguing finds will the team of Natural History Museum scientists be asked to identify at this year's Lyme Regis Fossil Festival over May bank holiday weekend, 4 - 6 May? I asked the team of palaeontologists who are today getting ready to go (we have a regular presence at this popular annual event).

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Lyme Regis Fossil Festival 2012 highlights: the parade and lots of Natural History Museum displays and activities.

'It's mainly the Dorset ammonites that I am expecting to see,' our vertebrates curator Lorna Steel told me. 'But people do bring in all sorts of things from all sorts of places. The last time I went, someone handed me a badger skull... and someone else had a load of ichthyosaur bones that their granddad had found in a pile of rubble while working as a builder - they'd kept them in their loft for decades!'

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Over the next few days our scientists will be setting up their stalls in the festival's Grand Marquee fossil fair (below left) ready to meet the public and talk to them about fossil collecting.

 

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As well as hoping to discover Lower Jurassic ammonites or ichthyosaur fossil specimens, the Museum palaeontologists will be inviting festival-goers to assemble and take apart a Baryonyx skull replica and sift sand from Kent for shark teeth. There are other Museum offerings too, including gold panning, a dino dig activity led by some of our Learning Department, and talks about meteorites, whale carcass communities and corals.

 

A presentation of The What on Earth? Wallbook of Natural History timeline will be a fun attraction this year, with specimen highlights from our scientists. This Museum book is a unique guide to the history of life on Earth.

 

The Fossil Festival is just as much about music and arts as it is about fossil collecting and rockpool rambling on the beaches, where Mary Anning once walked. Have a look at the official fossil festival website programme to choose from activities as diverse as the Travelling Pliosaur Cinema, stonebalancing and carving, and a fossil time machine.

 

The theme for the 2012 Lyme Regis Fossil Festival is Discovering Earth. The event organisers are emphasising  how vital fossil collecting is today, particularly for climate change research:

 

'Paleoclimatologists studying both fossil finds and the coast itself learn new things about not only the ancient seas and the creatures that swam there, but also the way our oceans and marine life might respond in future as our climate changes. This evidence of how past life forms reacted to changing temperatures and conditions in the past helps to tell us what we might need to be prepared for.'

 

There are still important fossils and rocks being discovered on this historic Jurassic coastline - most recently a large pliosaur skull and a new species of crocodile.

 

If you can't make it to Dorset over the bank holiday weekend and are visiting the Museum, drop in to our talks with live-video-links to the Museum team at the festival. Fossil hunters: Live from Lyme Regis is on Saturday (12.30 and 14.30) and Seashore Search: live from Lyme Regis beach is on Sunday (12.30 and 14.30). Some of our scientists at the festival will also be posting live in our new Palaeontology news blog.

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The Museum has several huge ichthyosaurs on show in its Fossil Marine Reptiles gallery. One is the largest and most complete of its kind and was discovered by the 19th-century fossil-hunter Mary Anning in Lyme Regis.

Undoubtedly, we have amazing fossils in our galleries from the tiniest to the gigantic. I'd recommend Fossil Marine Reptiles, Fossils from Britain and the Red Zone's Earth Lab where you can use resources to help identify your own British rocks and fossils.

 

Lyme Regis Fossil Festival website

 

Paleontology department news

 

More fossil information

 

Find out more about fantastic fossils and ammonites on our Kids only website

Get some tips on fossil hunting

Discover all about fossils online

Watch the Baryonyx video and follow the story of this unusual British dinosaur

Explore dinosaurs and other extinct aquatic animals like ichtyhosaurs