All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
14 03, 2017

Gorseybrigg Year 1 and Dinosaurs

By | March 14th, 2017|General Teaching, Key Stage 1/2|Comments Off on Gorseybrigg Year 1 and Dinosaurs

Dinosaurs and Fossils at Gorseybrigg Primary School

Children in Year 1 at Gorseybrigg Primary School have spent the last two weeks studying dinosaurs and fossils.  Gorseybrigg Primary is a bright, modern school, with extensive playing fields and spacious, light, well-equipped and very tidy classrooms.  Displays all about life in the Arctic are still pinned to the walls of the Year 1 classroom, but slowly and surely these displays are being replaced by various scenes of prehistoric life as the children get to grips with all things dinosaur.

Over the last fortnight, the children have learned about herbivores and carnivores, built their own “Jurassic Park” and explored such questions as whether or not dinosaurs had feathers.  The scheme of work that our dinosaur expert viewed prior to his fossil and dinosaur themed workshop was very comprehensive and carefully thought out.

Year 1 Children Make Their Own “Jurassic Park”

Year 1 create their own dinosaur land.

Year 1 make their own dinosaur land.

Picture Credit: Gorseybrigg Primary School/Everything Dinosaur

Footprint Measuring Exercise

The children showed a lot of confidence with the dinosaur footprint measuring exercise that we set them.  The children were comfortable using rulers and they enjoyed comparing the different types of dinosaur track.

14 03, 2017

Pushing Back the Origins of Complex Life

By | March 14th, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page, Palaeontological articles|0 Comments

Scientists Uncover Evidence of the Earliest Plants

One of the most significant steps in the history of life on Earth may have occurred earlier than previously thought, according to a new study published by Scandinavian scientists in the on line academic journal “PLOS Biology”.  The evolution of simple, non-nucleated cells (prokaryotes) to large, more complex and specialist cells (eukaryotes) may have taken place some 400 million years earlier.  The team might have uncovered evidence of the oldest plants known to science.

Red Algae – Look Out for the Stacked Plates

The researchers which include Therese Sallstedt (Swedish Museum of Natural History), examined exquisitely preserved, three-dimensional fossils, found in very ancient sedimentary rocks from central India (Vindhyan basin).  These rocks are known for their abundance of micro-fossils, and the researchers analysed the minute fossil remains that represent a biota that once existed in a shallow sea.  The team identified structures within the micro-fossils that correspond to chloroplasts, which are found within plant cells today.  The strata has been dated to approximately 1.6 billion years ago, the photosynthetic biomats amidst extensive cyanobacterial micro-fossils, had filaments and other features such as plate-like discs that represent stacked cells that are very reminiscent of red algae (Rhodophyta).  Prior to this discovery, experts believed that the earliest eukaryotes evolved some 1.2 billion years ago, as demonstrated by the oldest known multicellular organism Bangiomorpha pubescens, found in Canadian rocks around 1.2 billion years old.  Bangiomorpha is related to today’s red algae, it seems, from this new evidence, that the multicellular Rhodophyta, complete with their complex cells containing a nucleus, have been on Earth for far longer than previously thought.

Two Forms of Red Algae

The fossils appear to show two distinct types of red algae: Rafatazmia chitrakootensis, characterised as filamentous in shape and containing large plate-like, stacked discs that the researchers think may be parts of algal chloroplasts and Ramathallus lobatus, which would have been more rounded in shape and fatter.

Digital Images of Rafatazmia chitrakootensis

Evidence of the oldest plants uncovered.

Rafatazmia chitrakootensis digital images of the ancient eukaryote (chloroplast structures highlighted green).

Picture Credit: PLOS Biology

The picture above shows (A–L) Holotype, NRM X4258.  (A) Surface rendering.  (B) Volume rendering with rhomboidal disks coloured for visibility.  (C) Virtual slice. (D) Surface.  (E) Volume. (F–L) Transverse slices (positions indicated in B).  (M–O) NRM X5620, surface, volume, slice.  (P–R) NRM X5574, surface, volume, slice.  Scale bars 50 μm.

Most scientists already believed that red algae (Rhodophyta) to be some of the earliest eukaryotic organisms to evolve.  Pushing the date back by some 400 million years or so, has implications for our understanding of evolution as a whole and may help clear questions about the rates at which mutations occur in the genome over time.

The scientific paper: “Three-dimensional Preservation of Cellular and Subcellular Structures Suggests 1.6 billion-year-old Crown-group Red Algae”, published in “PLOS Biology.”

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