Kids' Zone

Play Rocky's amazing Time Machine Game, print out and make some cool badges or just play with the virtual stickers - its up to you!

But first, watch the animation below which shows you how fossils form.

 

Fossils are the remains of plants and animals that were trapped in the rock millions of years ago.

This video (credit: Shannon Ribbons Osis Design Ltd) shows an ichthyosaur, a dolphin-like reptile, swimming in the Jurassic sea nearly 200 million years ago.

Read more: How do fossils form?

The Land

The Ice Age

 The Ice Age lasted a long time, from about 2 million years ago and some people think it is still going on. Remember that during the Ice Age there were cold periods (Glacial) and warm periods (Inter glacial). It is thought that we are in an interglacial period now. Solid glaciers never came far enough south to cover the Jurassic Coast but they did come down as far as the North Devon Coast and Bristol Channel. In the cold periods the Jurassic Coast was very different, imagine frozen tundra like Northern Canada and Russia today. Teeth of a Woolly Mammoth have been found in river deposits along the coast. During warm periods animals which now are only found in Africa lived here, bones of hippopotamus and lions have been found in Britain. The most profound effect that the Ice age had on the Jurassic Coast was to lower and raise sea levels. During cold spells the sea level was very much lower and during warm spells even higher. After the last cold spell Chesil beach was formed as the sea level rose.

Continental Drift

 Geologists have proved that the surface of the earth is moving. Like a giant cracked egg shell the surface is made up of crustal plates which move very slowly. Riding upon the plates are the continents and so through millions of years of geological time the continents move around. Look at an atlas and see how South America and Africa look like they once fitted together. In fact this was so about 225 million years ago. This explains why the rocks along the Jurassic Coast vary from place to place. The rocks of East Devon formed 15 degrees above the equator, where the deserts are today. This is a new idea in geology, it was fully accepted by geologists only 35 years ago.

Volcanoes

 Volcanoes are linked to Plate Tectonics, the movement of the plates causes eruptions to take place. Evidence of a volcanic eruption in the Jurassic is found in the Fuller's Earth clay. It is made of ash from a volcano. Where plates meet and one descends below the other, highly explosive volcanoes occur in mountain chains. Where two plates separate, moving away from each other, the gap is filled by lava coming from less explosive volcanoes, mostly under the sea.

The Rock

Chalk

 Chalk is a pure white limestone rock found on the Jurassic Coast, it is made of millions and millions of microfossils. It formed in a vast warm sea surrounded by deserts in the Cretaceous period about 65-80 million years ago.

Portland Limestone

 Portland Limestone is the most famous building stone in the world. It is used for magnificent buildings like St. Paul's Cathedral in London. It formed in a warm tropical sea near the end of the Jurassic period. The rock has no grain in it so it can be carved to form beautiful shapes for masonry.

Desert Sandstone

 Sand blown about by the wind forms dunes in the desert and we can see this in the cliffs of East Devon at Budleigh Salterton. Red fine grained sandstone from the Triassic Period.

The Creatures

Mammals

 At Durlston on the Jurassic Coast, fossils of small mammals that lived in the age of the dinosaurs have been found. They are early Cretaceous in age and are very very small. To find them you need a large amount of rock, sieved in the laboratory. Jaws and teeth have been found. From the same beds dinosaur footprints have been found.

Ammonites

 Ammonites were marine creatures related to Nautilus and Octopus. They had a coiled shell and there were

many different species in the Jurassic and Cretaceous. At Charmouth and Lyme Regis they are common fossils and can be found by beach combing along the shore, between boulders.

Ichthyosaurs

 The Ichthyosaurs were the hunters of the Jurassic and Cretaceous seas. They looked and probibly lived like our modern Dolphins. There were many species ranging from small to very large, more like whales!

Scelidosaurus

 Scelidosaurus is a dinosaur, the earliest dinosaur to be found in the Jurassic rocks of the Jurassic Coast. It is found at Charmouth in one thin layer. Boulders fall to the beach and sometimes the fossil bones of Scelidosaurus are found in them. They are very rare and a mystery.

The Fossil Forest and Dinosaur Footprints

 The Purbeck beds have a unique fossil forest and palaeo-soil (ancient soil) preserved within them. At Lulworth and Portland you can see the remains of this forest. Fossil wood and the algae that grew around the base of the trees is seen. In another layer hundreds of dinosaur footprints have been found.

Mary Anning

 Mary Anning was the most famous fossil colloctor of all time, she found fantastic fossils from the Jurassic Coast around Lyme Regis and Charmouth about 185 years ago. She found the first Ichthyosaur fossil with her brother in 1812 at the age of 11. They sold it for £24, a lot of money in those days. Mary Anning is an inspiration to us all, you too can find fossils.

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Watch Jedward being Jurassic Coast tour guides on the above clip

The Jurassic Coast: A Mighty Tale

A light-hearted python-esque animated film by Tim Britton.