Skip navigation

Earth sciences news

7 Posts tagged with the shark tag
0

The Lyme Regis Fossil Festival took place in Dorset on 2-4 May 2014. Our palaeontologists Lil Stevens and Zoe Hughes report back from a weekend of sun, sea, fossils and fun.

 

Saturday in the festival marquee was a busy one with lots of people queuing to sieve for sharks teeth from Abbey Wood (which they got to keep!).

 

Charlie Sieving.jpgCharlie Underwood sieving for teeth.

 

Elsewhere Museum staff were also quite busy. Mark Spencer and the Angela Marmont Centre (AMC) team were talking about seaweed using samples which they had collected from the beach that morning.

 

Mark spencer sorting seaweed.jpg Mark Spencer with some of his seaweed.

 

Emma Bernard’s shark measuring activity proved very popular - she had crowds of rapt people hanging onto her every word. People like big Megalodon teeth! Emma has also been busy tweeting for @NHM_FossilFish.

 

Emma and Ralph.jpgEmma Bernard with her popular shark activity.

 

Andrew Briscoe and Suzanne Hocking have been teaching people how to extract DNA from strawberries- incredible that this can be done in a marquee on the beach!

 

DNA extraction.jpgAndrew Briscoe and Suzanne Hocking showing us how to extract DNA.

 

In the rest of the marquee lots of other organisations had some great activities. Zoe Hughes discovered that she walks like a Velociraptor with Plymouth University and that she is as tall as an extinct fossil penguin from Antarctica with the British Antarctic survey.

 

Penguin height chart (BAS).jpgZoe has a look to see which penguin she is as tall as.

0

We've packed the car and we're ready to go to this year's Fossil Festival! The Museum will be in its usual place in the main marquee on the beach near the Lyme Regis Museum - this is my first trip to Lyme so it's all new to me.

 

I'm looking forward to the tropical climate and warm, shallow sea...oh no, that was in the Jurassic period. Forecast for this weekend: cool with occasional showers and the possibility of overnight frosts. Ah well, we're in a tent!

Untitled.jpg

Museum volunteers Sam McCausland and Mike Smith pack the important stuff into the Fossilmobile.

 

This year we will be bringing anthropologist Margaret Clegg to talk about ancient humans, and palaeontologists Pip Brewer and Jerry Hooker to showcase some very ancient mammals.

 

You can sieve for sharks teeth with fish curator Emma Bernard and expert David Ward, and 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.

 

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...

0

Saturday and Sunday at the Lyme Regis Fossil Festival were busy in the tent. Lots of people swarmed around our fossil table to see the invertebrates and sharks on display, talk to our experts and get their own fossil finds identified.

 

Adrian Glover was showing off his ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle), sending it out into the sea to get live images of the sea floor! Alex Ball was showing people the wonders of the scanning electon microscope and the meteorites team were explaining impacts using pink gravel.

 

ROV.jpg

Laetitia Gunton launching "REX" the ROV and Adrian Glover controlling from inside the tent.


sat_montage.jpg

Just some of the Museum scientists at work on Saturday.

 

Martin Munt, Emma Bernard and I were also called upon to do a live link-up with the Nature Live studio back at the Museum, to talk about the fossil festival and going fossil hunting. We took along a selection of specimens to help us talk about some of the things that can be found in Lyme Regis.

 

David Nicholson was live in the Attenborogh Studio with Ana Rita and some specimens from the collection we selected last week. Our filming took place at the Cobb (harbour) in glorious sunshine. This did however mean that both Emma and I got slightly sunburnt! If you do come down, make sure you've got plenty of sun cream.

 

Nature_live.jpg

Martin being interviewed for the 12.30 show (top). Me and Emma talking about a nautilus and a shark with Charlotte for the 2.30 show (below).

 

It's not just specimens on display - outside you can visit a pliosaur cinema and go on the Jurassic airline!

 

Pliosaur cinema.jpg

The Pliosaur Cinema!

 

We also had some special guests come along to talk to us: Mary Anning and Charles Darwin! (well...people dressed as them at least).

 

Mary and Charles.jpg

Mary Anning and Charles Dawrin.

 

Today is the last day of the fossil festival and its looking like is will be another busy day in the tent with lovely weather and lots of people on the beach eating ice cream.

 

We hope you have enjpyed reading this blog and hope to see you next year at the festival!


1

Today was the first day of the festival on the beach at Lyme Regis, Otherwise known as primary school day! Through the day, hundreds of school children from twenty local primary schools filltered through the tent, enjoying all of the fabulous activities and sights! A popular activity was the shark sieving, with children searching through sediment from Abbey Wood to find and identify shark teeth and shells - which they got to keep at the end!

 

shark_sieve.jpg

The equipment for shark sieving and the sediment

 

The British Geological Survey were showing off their 3D scanning equipment and printer. This was rather amazing! I was also very impressed with the British Antarctic Survey's specimens, particularly one ammonite  that had incredible sutures.

 

Museum staff had a very busy day with all of their activities, with Mike Rumsey and Helena Toman especially busy with their gold panning. Jerry Hooker and Noel Morris dealt with many fossil identifications.

 

I was sucessful in identifying the meteorite in a task designed by Caroline Smith and Deb Cassey - it is often difficult to identify a true meteorite! The DNA activity got many children very excited, with lots going past our fossil stand waving their tubes and enthusiastically telling us that they had DNA.

 

gold panning.jpg

A girl hunting for 'gold' at the gold panning station.

 

Barrys_watch.jpg

'Barry' our Baryonyx skull watching over us as we work.

 

montage_1.jpg

Many of the Museum stations and associated staff inside the tent (but not all of us!)

 

Emma and I were also intervied for Palaeocast, a podcast about palaeontology. Emma talked to them about fish and I discussed ammonites.

 

e+z_interview.jpg

Emma and me being interviewed for Palaeocast

 

Tomorrow the tent will be open to the public so we are expecting a busy couple of days ahead. If you are nearby do pop in and say hello!

0

Yesterday, we went to a secondary school in Dorchester. We set up our stand along with several others from the Museum, local fossil groups and the school's fossil club. At our stand we were giving students a brief explanation of taxonomy (how you classify all living things), specifically cephalopods.

 

We explained the difference between three major groups of cephalopod: ammonites, belemnites and nautiloids. The belemnite phragmacone we found yesterday proved to be very useful in explaining how a belemnite dealt with buoyancy control. The children enjoyed examining the recent nautilus we had with us to locate the hole for the siphuncle.

 

e+zu_school.jpg

Zuzanna Wawrzyniak and Emma Bernard with our taxonomy stand (Zoe Hughes as photographer)

 

After the school event we returned to Lyme Regis to help set up the tent for the main event: the Fossil Festival. Our main earth science table is set up, with specimens for the public to handle starting today. We constructed the Baryonyx skull and helped David Ward set up his shark sieving activity.

 

set_up.jpg

Nearly finished setting up in the tent (with the Baryonyx spine and skull on the left)

 

Dave_setup.jpg

David Ward setting up the shark sieving (to find fossil teeth, etc).

 

Today is the primary school day and we have been told approximately 600 children willl be visiting - wish us luck and we will report back soon!

0

The specimens are packed and tomorrow the first Museum staff will make our way down to Lyme Regis for the fossil festival (3-5 May). We have a nice selection of ammonites, brachiopods, fish, sharks, and a replica dinosaur skull of a Baryonyx and its claw to show people different types of fossils which can be found on the Jurassic Coast. We do seem to have a lot of things to take...

 

e+z_700pxPreLyme.jpg

Emma Bernard (left) and Zoe Hughes (right).

 

This first group is Martin Munt, Zuzanna Wawrzyniak, Zoe Hughes and me, Emma Bernard. We will be heading out to do some fieldwork on Wednesday (Hopefully we’ll find lots of ammonites!), though we haven’t yet quite decided where we will head to, it might be weather dependant, so hope for sunshine.

 

Thursday will take us to a school event in Dorchester where we will be talking about the wonders of cephalopod taxonomy. Over the weekend it is the festival and the Museum will be represented by many staff and lots of fun activities including sieving for sharks teeth, learning all about the wonders of the Rhynie Chert (which is 407 million years old) and gold panning. There is also an opportunity for people to bring along any fossils of their own for identification.

 

The festival is important as Lyme Regis is at the heart of the Jurassic Coast and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

 

For more information about Lyme Regis Fossil Festival, visit their website.

 

Zoe and I will be posting updates all week here on our blog. Stay tuned!

1

Phew! We are all somewhat tired but very inspired by our long weekend in Lyme Regis, and some us have the sniffles from hanging about in the cold weather and doing too much talking! The Fossil Festival's own broadband was disconnected before I could update my blog on Sunday evening , so I am writing from the comfort of my office at the Museum.

 

Sunday was possibly the busiest day of the whole weekend! The sun came out and the weather warmed up, bringing in lots of visitors. Some of them brought yet more local fossils for us to identify - two that I remember were an uncommon Chalk sea urchin called Conulus, that I recalled seeing only once before many years ago, and a rather lovely black coprolite. Do you know what that means? It means 'poo rock', and it was probably produced by one of the Jurassic marine reptiles or fish whose skeletons are found in the rocks at Lyme. Its young owner was very pleased with himself! Here it is:

 

Coprolite+find (Custom).JPG

 

Coprolites contain the remains of meals - things like fish scales, bone fragments or whatever the animal had been eating. Cool eh?

 

Those of us that were staying until Monday were very kindly invited to join the fossil walk departing from Lyme Regis Museum at 11.30, led by expert collectors Chris and Paddy. They provided their own brand of lively fossil edutainment for over three hours, and the sun shone for most of that time!

 

We heard an explanation of the geology and palaeontology at this site, and before approaching the toe of the landslip, we were briefed on how to find fossils safely. At the end, Paddy split some nodules and gave all the youngsters an ammonite to keep. Apparently I wasn't young enough.

 

Paddy+hammering+3 (Custom).JPG

 

Do note that Paddy wears eye protection and uses a proper geological hammer. He still has both of his eyes and all of his fingers, and would like it to stay that way.

 

Maybe you were wondering what I found? Here is is. Can you guess?

 

Lornas+shark+poo (Custom).JPG

 

Yes, it's another coprolite, but mine was left by a shark. They have a spiral valve in their intestine, which causes the poo to come out in a spiral shape, like a fat corkscrew. Or a 'Mr Whippy' as one lady said. Some people asked how I spotted it - I am not sure, but I do own a small dog... He wasn't with me on this trip though! (sorry Dookie, maybe next time).

 

All too soon, it was time to leave the beach but we are already looking forwards to the next Fossil Festival. I will leave you with a view of Lyme seafront and the huge festival marquee. See you there next year?

 

Marquee+2 (Custom).JPG