Velociraptor

It’s #ThrowbackThursday and we would like to meet our old friend who just to live on Earth.

“Colour me in to preserve me!

Hello, I am a Velociraptor and I am a dinosaur! People think I am a larger than a human (because I am famous in the film Jurassic Park) however, I was around the size of a turkey! I could run very fast on my two feet, up to 40 miles per hour! I have some questions for you:

  1. What did I eat?
  2. When did I live on the earth?
  3. Where was my first fossil found?”
Study reveals tropical rainforests covered much of Antarctica 90 million years ago, during time of the Dinosaurs

Study reveals tropical rainforests covered much of Antarctica 90 million years ago, during time of the Dinosaurs

Antarctica is arguably one of the most barren, extreme environments on the planet, with only one permanent terrestrial resident – the Emperor penguin. However, wind the clock back 90 million years, and the continent was far from a frozen wasteland. New evidence has suggested that this icy continent was largely covered in tropical swamp forest, during the time of the Dinosaurs.


The cretaceous period, which spanned from approximately 145 to 66 million years ago, was a very warm period in earth’s history, with an almost worldwide greenhouse climate, and an abundance of vegetation and tropical forests. Antarctica at this time was mostly covered in a swampy, tropical forest and there were no glaciers at the south pole.

An artist’s impression of the ancient swamp forests of Antarctica (© James McKay)


Scientists at the Alfred Wegener institute, Germany, made this discovery by analysing sediment cores drilled from the seafloor in West Antarctica. These cores show a glimpse of the past environment in Antarctica, with sediments nearer to the bottom of the core representing older geological time. At three metres down on the core, representing the late cretaceous period, the sediment composition changed drastically, composed mainly of a coal-like material, soil, roots and pollen. The team identified over 65 types of plant material, indicating the presence of an ancient conifer forest.

The ancient Antarctic forests would have been dominated by cycad plants such as this one (© J. Dazley)


So, what exactly lived in these forests? The forests would have likely been very similar in plant structure to some of the forests in modern-day New Zealand, dominated by towering tree ferns, cycads and coniferous trees. At this time in history, flowering plants had only recently evolved so were likely rare in these forests. Biogeochemical evidence from the sediment cores also revealed that microscopic photosynthetic life such as algae and cyanobacteria were common in warm lakes and rivers.

Australovenator was one of several carnivorous dinosaurs to roam prehistoric Antarctica (© L. Xing)


These forests were dominated by a variety of dinosaur species, which filled many of the ecological roles of forest ecosystems today. There were giant herbivorous dinosaurs such as the long necked Austrosaurus, and Muttaburrasaurus, a close relative of the Iguanadon, whose remains are commonly found on the Isle of Wight. There were also carnivorous dinosaurs such as Cryolophosaurus and Australovenator, and the tiny herbivorous Leaellynasaura, which likely lived in small groups in the forest. Primitive mammals shared the forests with the dinosaurs; they were furry, egg laying species which were likely similar to modern echidnas and platypus. It is also known that the river networks around these forests were home to a giant salamander-like amphibian called Koolasuchus, belonging to an ancient lineage of animals over 250 million years old.

The giant amphibian Koolasuchus was one of the last surviving of it’s kind, and probably fed on smaller dinosaurs (© BBC)


The discovery of these polar forests is not only an exciting advance for palaeontology, but also shows us how key carbon dioxide levels are in the shaping of an environment. It is known that the tropical climate during the cretaceous period could have only been possible if carbon dioxide levels were much higher than today, so this discovery could give an insight into the future environmental implications of increased carbon dioxide levels in the near future.

Tardigrade

Happy hump day everyone! Today is #WeirdWildlifeWednesday and we would like you to meet our tiny strange friend.

“Colour me in so I can continue my slow journey!

Hello, I am a Tardigrade and I am a microbe, which means I cannot be seen with the naked eye. I am also known as a water bear or sometimes a moss piglet! I can live in environments that would kill most animals, and I can even survive in outer space! I can also survive more than 10 years without water. I have some questions for you:

1. How big am I?
2. Where do I live?
3. What do I like to eat?”

#onlineeducation #workingfromhome #schoolchildren #stayathome #wildlife #onlineactivites #wonderfulworldofmicrobes #microbe #waterbear

African Elephant

Today is #TerrestrialTuesday! Terrestrial simply means anything that lives on land, so today we would like you to meet our giant friend.

“Colour me in so I can graze!

Happy Tuesday everyone! I am an African elephant and I am the biggest land mammal on earth. I can walk up to 65km a day because I have to eat a lot of food because of my huge size. I have a very versatile trunk, and the tip is made up of two opposable extensions, just like fingers, that I can grab food with! Even though I am a giant, I am afraid of bees because their stings have hurt my friends! I have some questions for you:

1. What do I eat?
2. Why do I need to cover myself in mud and dust (apart from it being fun!)?
3. What is the name of a female elephant that leads a group of elephants?”

#onlineeducation #workingfromhome #schoolchildren #stayathome #wildlife #onlineactivites #elephant

Atlantic Salmon

Happy #MarineMonday everyone! I am an Atlantic salmon. I live in clean rivers, where I am born. I then start a long journey to the sea, where I live as an adult. I then return to the same river where I was born to make a nest and lay eggs. My journey is fraught with danger! I have some questions for you:

Colour me in so I can start my journey!

1. What do I eat?
2. What do you think I find on my journey to the sea and back?
3. How large do I get?

#NASCO #Internationalyearofthesalmon Cape Farewell Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT)

#onlineeducation #workingfromhome #schoolchildren #stayathome #wildlife #onlineactivites #mondaymorning #salmon #justkeepswimming

Fab Five: Week 2 Answers

Week commencing 30/03/2020

Species 1: Great Hammerhead Shark

1.Where do I live?

I can be found worldwide in tropical waters (warm waters that are 68 degrees or higher)

2. What do I eat?

I am entirely carnivorous, and I like to feed on prey at the seafloors such as stingrays, octopus and squid and other sharks

3. Where do I like to hang out? The coast or deep ocean?

I can be found in coastal waters

Species 2: Giraffe

1.Which country do I live in?

I actually live in several countries across the continent of Africa such as Kenya and South Africa.

2. What are the actual names of the ‘horn’ like structures on my head?

They are called ossicones and both male and female giraffes have them. Males use these for ‘necking’, which is how giraffes fight!  

3. What are a group of giraffes called?

A tower of giraffes!

Species 3: Shoebill bird

1.Where do I live?

I can be found in freshwater swamps of central tropical Africa, from southern Sudan through parts of eastern Congo, Rwanda, Uganda, western Tanzania and northern Zambia

2. What do I like to eat?

I am largely piscivorous, which means that I mainly eat fish!

3. How big can I grow to?

I am a tall bird and I can grow up to 140 cm (43 to 55 inches) tall.

Species 4: Tyrannosaurus Rex

1.What did I eat?

I was carnivorous which meant that I only ate meat

2. How big was I when I was fully grown?

I grew to 13m (42ft) in length and 4m (13ft) at the hip and could weigh up to 7 tonnes!

3. In what time period did I live on the Earth

I lived on earth during the Cretaceous period, around 66 million years ago!

Species 5: Blue iguana

1.What do I eat?

I am herbivorous which means that I only eat plants

2. How big can I grow up to?

I am the largest native land mammal on Grand Cayman and my length from nose-to-tail is 5ft (1.5m)!

3. Where is the Grand Cayman?

Grand Cayman is the largest of the three Cayman Islands, and is located in the Carribbean

Dorset to be home to the UK’s first ‘super’ national nature reserve

The Purbeck heath habitat is an incredibly important natural area for Dorset’s wildlife, providing habitats for a great variety of species. The heathland area comprises a number of habitats, including heathland, sand dunes, salt marsh, Reed beds and woods, and these habitats are home to a myriad of amazing species, such as warblers, bats, butterflies, lizards and even carnivorous plants.

Heathland habitat provides a home for many bird and insect species in the area (© J.Dazley)


An idea generated by a group of seven landowners joining forces and combining several chunks of land together, the super national nature reserve (NNR) in Purbeck heath will be the first of its kind in the UK, and it is hoped that by combining this natural land, it will be easier to manage, and will make it much easier for animals to navigate through the environment.


The Purbeck heath area is home to a variety of important species, some of which are unique to the area, and many have very small, fragmented habitats with a dwindling population. As such, this nature reserve will play a key role in connecting their habitat and hopefully sparking population growth. One such species which will greatly benefit from this land integration is the pearl-bordered fritillary butterfly; this species was once thought extinct in Dorset, it is estimated that around 15 individuals are living amongst the Purbeck heaths, and they all occupy a very small area at present.

The pearl-bordered fritillary is one of many insects which will benefit from the formation of the new reserve
(© butterfly conservation)


However instead of merely preserving this habitat, many changes will be made to create a dynamic habitat, allowing a great diversity of species to establish themselves. For example, grazing and trampling by cattle, pigs and other ungulate mammals will be encouraged in order to stimulate ecological succession in the environment. This behaviour is hoped to maximise biodiversity in this habitat. Also, anthropogenic changes to the plant assemblages in the area, such as removing the non-native Scots pine and encouraging growth of native flora, will encourage many insect species to thrive.


Dorset is home to a variety of carnivorous plant species, found mainly in nutrient-poor boggy peat habitats, and have evolved to feed on insects and other invertebrates to supplement their nutrient levels. It is hoped that this super reserve will see a boom in these species, including sundew plants, aquatic bladderworts and butterworts.

The round-leaved sundew, one of the many carnivorous plant species found on the Dorset peat bog environment (© D. Plant)


Among the many species in this new habitat, bird species are amongst those expected to thrive. The Dartford warbler is one such species, preferring in gorse heathland, and feeding on invertebrates such as spiders. The Purbeck heaths are a key habitat for the naturally rare Dartford warbler stronghold in Britain, so the development of this area will be key for the species. The heathland is also home to a variety of other bird species, such as Osprey, Marsh Harrier, Stonechat and Merlin.
Reptiles are also key species, mainly in the sand dune and heathland habitats, indeed all six species of native reptiles can be found here, including smooth snakes, sand lizards and slow worms.

The sand lizard is vulnerable to habitat loss in Dorset, and it is hoped the new reserve will help boost its numbers (© B. Govier)


This project is a landmark step in landscape-scale conservation, and the important that this plays in maintaining Dorset’s native biodiversity and providing a home for wildlife.

Blue Iguana

It’s Friday, and we would like to celebrate our followers by taking species requests on #FollowerFriday. Today’s public choice is a lizard species!

“Colour me in so I can bask!

Happy Friday everyone. I am a Blue Iguana and I am the largest native land animal on Grand Cayman. I like rocky, sunlit, open areas in dry forests or near the shore, I love basking in the sun. I am one of the longest-living lizards: my friend was 67 years old! I have some questions for you:

1. What do I eat?
2. How big can I grow up to?
3. Where is the Grand Cayman?”

#homeschool #homeschoollife #education #homeschooling #onlineeducation #teaching #school #friday #teachingfromhome #stayathome #lizard

Tyrannosaurus Rex

It’s #ThrowbackThursday and we would like to meet our old friend who just to live on Earth.

“Colour me in to preserve me!

Hello, I am a Tyrannosaurus Rex and I am probably the most famous dinosaur. My name come from Greek and Latin words which mean ‘Tyrant Lizard King’. I had 50-60 banana-sized teeth! I had small arms that were extremely powerful and had two clawed fingers. I have some questions for you:

1. What did I eat?
2. How big was I when I was fully grown?
3. In what time period did I live on the Earth?”

#onlineeducation #workingfromhome #schoolchildren #stayathome #wildlife #onlineactivites #TRex

Shoebill

Happy hump day everyone! Today is #WeirdWildlifeWednesday and we would like you to meet our feathered friend.

“Colour me in so I can fly!

“Hello, I am a Shoebill, and I am known as Whale-head or Shoe-billed Stork. I get my name from my most distinctive feature, my beak that is shaped like a shoe which can grow up to 9 inches long. I have some questions for you:

1. Where do I live?
2. What do I like to eat?
3. How big can I grow up to?”

#onlineeducation #workingfromhome #schoolchildren #stayathome #wildlife #onlineactivites #shoebill