All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
13 01, 2015

Scotland’s Very Own Ichthyosaur

By |2023-03-21T16:12:13+00:00January 13th, 2015|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Geology, Main Page|0 Comments

Dearcmhara shawcrossi – An Ichthyosaur from the Isle of Skye

No it’s not a dinosaur, contrary to some media reports.  It certainly is not “Nessie”, but it does mark the culmination of a tremendous effort by Scottish palaeontologists to collate and study marine reptile fossils that have been found in Scotland.  A new species of ichthyosaur (marine reptile), has been described from fossils found on the Isle of Skye.

The “wee beastie” has been named Dearcmhara shawcrossi, the name comes from the Scottish Gaelic for marine lizard and the trivial name honours amateur fossil hunter Brian Shawcross who found the creature’s fossils at Bearreraig Bay in 1959.  Bearreraig Bay is part of a highly fossiliferous coastline which can be found on the eastern side of the island.  As far as we at Everything Dinosaur know, this is the first marine reptile to be given a Gaelic name, Dearcmhara is pronounced “jark vara”.

 A Model of an Ichthyosaur (Fish Lizard)

An Ichthyosaurus Model

An Ichthyosaurus model.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

Scotland’s Very Own Ichthyosaur (D. shawcrossi)

Around 170 million years ago, much of the Isle of Skye was underwater.  A shallow sea separated the landmasses of Europe and North America, this sea formed when rifts in the Earth’s crust led to the break-up of the super- continent Laurentia.  Marine reptiles like Dearcmhara shawcrossi were part of a diverse ecosystem, Dearcmhara grew to around 4.5 metres in length, motor boat size as described by Dr Steve Brusatte (University of Edinburgh School of GeoSciences), who led the study.

Fossil Vertebra of the Newly Described Species

Most likely a dorsal vertebra from Dearcmhara.

Most likely a dorsal vertebra from 

Picture credit: BBC News

 Dr Steve Brusatte (holding the fossil in the photograph) went onto comment:

“During the time of the dinosaurs, the waters of Scotland were prowled by big reptiles the size of motor boats.  Their fossils are very rare, and only now, for the first time we’ve found a new species that was uniquely Scottish.”

The Isle of Skye

The Isle of Skye is a very important part of the world to palaeontologists.  Exposures along the shoreline and inland are strata that was laid down during the Middle Jurassic.  There are very few places in the world where such rocks are exposed and this makes any fossil discovery from the island very significant indeed.

Recently, Everything Dinosaur wrote about a new initiative to try and protect the island’s geological heritage in the wake of fears that unscrupulous fossil dealers might want to remove rare and valuable fossil bones of plesiosaurs and ichthyosaurs.

To read the article: Action Taken to Safeguard Scotland’s Fossils.

The discovery of a new species of Scottish ichthyosaur is just part of a collaborative effort being undertaken by researchers from the University of Edinburgh, the Hunterian Museum, the National Museums of Scotland, Staffin Museum (Isle of Skye) and Scottish National Heritage to try and catalogue significant vertebrate fossil finds.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“Without the donation made by local fossil enthusiast Brian Shawcross, this new species of ichthyosaur would not have been recognised.  This goes to show how important amateur fossil collectors can be when it comes to learning about life in the past.”

To read an article that explains the importance of the Isle of Skye from a palaeontological perspective: Scotland’s Mid Jurassic Heritage.

Everything Dinosaur acknowledges the assistance of a media release from the University of Edinburgh in the compilation of this article.

13 01, 2015

That Little Bit Extra

By |2023-03-21T16:09:05+00:00January 13th, 2015|General Teaching, Key Stage 1/2|Comments Off on That Little Bit Extra

Getting into the Spirit of the Term Topic

At Everything Dinosaur we get the chance to meet and work with some amazing teachers and learning support providers.  The term “teaching professions” is most certainly merited and it always fills us with a sense of pride when we are able to assist and enthuse hard-working, dedicated school teachers and teaching assistants.  Sometimes, members of the teaching team will go that extra step to help motivate and inspire the next generation of scientists.  Key Stage 1 children studying dinosaurs at Rykneld Primary school, were very appreciative of  Lisa Tee, one of the teaching assistants, who got her nails painted with a variety of dinosaur designs – good for you Lisa.

Teaching Assistant Inspires Pupils

“Digital Dinosaurs”

Dinosaur themed nail designs.

A member of the teaching staff gets into the spirit of the dinosaur term topic. Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.

Picture credit: Lisa Tee/Rykneld Primary School/Everything Dinosaur

What a wonderful way to help inspire and motivate the pupils!  We have to “hand” it to the member of the teaching staff her “handiwork” is inspirational.

A member of the teaching staff has certainly got into the spirit of the dinosaur and prehistoric animal term topic.

Our dinosaur workshop was very well received by teachers and pupils.  We provided a number of extension ideas and suggestions, even some drawings of dinosaur footprints, however, none of the dinosaur tracks that we sent over had painted nails, perhaps next time…

Dinosaur Wall Display

A decorative dinosaur wall display spotted at the school. Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.

Everything Dinosaur stocks a huge range of educational dinosaur-themed toys and games, all aimed at inspiring the next generation of young scientists.  Our toys and gifts are all recommended by our own dedicated and enthusiastic teaching team.

To view the range of prehistoric animal-themed items in stock: Replica Models of Iconic Fossil Animals – Learning Section.

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