Exploring the World of Wallace at the Dorset County Museum’s Craft Academy

Alfred Russel Wallace © Dorset County Museum 2017

Looking for something to do with the kids over the summer holidays? Come and join us for a morning of messy fun at Dorset County Museum’s Craft Academy on Wednesday 2 August 10.30am – 12.30pm

Taking inspiration from the museum’s collection of exotic birds collected by Victorian naturalist and explorer Alfred Russel Wallace. Children will have a chance to learn about Wallace’s ideas and achievements.

craft-academy-dorset-county-museumWe’ll provide the materials and the inspiration – you’ll create a wonderful piece to take home with you. Even better, it’s absolutely FREE thanks to sponsorship from Battens Solicitors.

Each time you create a masterpiece at one of our sessions, we will stamp your Craft Academy passport. If you collect three stamps we’ll give you a special certificate.

For further information contact the Museum on on 01305 756827 or check the website on www.dorsetcountymuseum.org or follow us on Facebook and Twitter

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Museum planning application for new extension and development approved

New Museum Entrance concept design -Carmody Groarke © 2015

New Museum Entrance concept design -Carmody Groarke © 2015

The planned extension and redevelopment plans for Dorchester’s County Museum have finally been given the green light by West Dorset District Council.

The plans, which call for the transformation of the museum’s facilities, include a new learning centre, library, café and shop and most importantly additional gallery space.

Hidden behind the museum’s 19th century façade lie almost 4 million artefacts, charting the natural, archaeological, cultural and social history of Dorset. Regrettably, many of these hidden gems have remained just that, hidden from view and unable to tell their story…until now!

With £13 million of the £15 million target already pledged, these hidden gems will once again see the light of day, helping to illustrate, educate and inform us of our unique history.

‘We are absolutely delighted that the relevant authorities have recognised the importance and significance of the project to the local community and to the county. We can now look forward to realising our ambition to provide Dorset with the appropriate facilities in which to properly conserve, display and make accessible, our wonderful collection.’ says Dr Jon Murden, Director of Dorset County museum.

Online donations to the appeal can be made via www.tomorrowsmuseumfordorset.org

Gold coins circa 70-50BC found in Tarrant Valley - DCM © 2017

Gold coins circa 70-50BC found in Tarrant Valley – DCM © 2017

In recognition of the Museum’s unique collections and its role in furthering the knowledge of palaeontology the museum will be welcoming its largest and oldest visitor in February 2018. Dippy, the famous diplodocus skeleton replica from the National History Museum is embarking on national tour with Dorchester being his first stop.

When he was roaming the Earth, Dippy measured almost 30m in length and weighed an incredible 15 tonnes, once installed in the museum’s magnificent Victorian gallery there will be just inches to spare.

Dr Jon Murden, is understandably overjoyed at the prospect of Dippy coming to town.

“Dippy’s visit is a once in generation opportunity and as such we’re expecting a huge demand for tickets” says Jon. The museum’s online ticket reservation service will be launched very soon but visitors are advised to register their advance interest by visiting www.dorsetcountymuseum.org and visiting the Dippy page.

Working in partnership with the Jurassic Coast Trust, visitors to the museum will receive expert guided tours and experience real life time travel by visiting the Jurassic Coast and travelling back 155 million years.

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Geology Revealed: The Late Triassic Mass Extinction Event and its Aftermath by Prof Richard Twitchett

Ichthyosaur fossil discovered at Lyme Regis © Dorset County Museum 2017

Ichthyosaur fossil discovered at Lyme Regis © Dorset County Museum 2017

One of the major mass extinction events of all time took place about 200 million years ago, triggered by volcanic activity associated with the birth of the Atlantic Ocean.  Elevated carbon dioxide levels at the time, led to global warming and associated environmental changes, some of which are similar to those we are currently experiencing. 

Southwest England contains some of the best locations to study the impacts of this extinction on marine ecosystems and this talk will outline some of the major advances that have been made recently.

Professor Richard Twitchett is a palaeontologist who has been researching the effects of Earth’s major mass extinction events for over 20 years.  Since 2014 he has been a Research Leader in environmental change at the Natural History Museum, London.  After graduating from the University of Bristol he completed his PhD at Leeds, and has undertaken research in the Americas, Asia, Europe & Australia, including fellowships at the University of Tokyo & the University of Southern California.

The forthcoming lecture will take place on Wednesday 8 March in the Dorset County Museum’s Victorian Hall and is FREE to the public; however a donation of £3 encouraged to cover costs. Doors open at 6.30pm and talks start at 7.00pm.

For further information contact the Museum on on 01305 756827 or check the website on www.dorsetcountymuseum.org or follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Jurassic World – Come and see the World’s Biggest Bite!

Jurassic-WorldJurassic World has been released this weekend – and if you’ve enjoyed the film, now come and see the enormous 150million year old skull of the Weymouth Bay Pliosaur at Dorset County Museum!

The fossil bones of this pliosaur skull were recovered by amateur fossil collector Kevan Sheehan between 2003 and 2008, as they were washed out of a landslide on the coast in Weymouth Bay. The largest piece weighed over 80 kg, and the skull itself is a massive 2.4 metres long. Featured recently as one of National Geographic’s Top 10 Biggest Beasts, the pliosaur was the ‘T Rex of the ocean’, an 18metre long ferocious predator of the seas. Known as ‘The World’s Biggest Bite’, the Weymouth Bay Pliosaur would have been capable of biting the biggest great white shark alive today clean in half.

The Dorset specimen is one of the most complete and best preserved skulls ever found, and as a result it has provided new insights into our understanding of how these enormous animals evolved.

Richard Edmonds and Kevan Sheehan with the Pliosaur skull © DCM

Richard Edmonds and Kevan Sheehan with the Pliosaur skull © DCM

Since its discovery, hundreds of hours have been spent carrying out a detailed analysis and cleaning away the rock to expose the detail of the fossil underneath. Alongside this conservation work an intensive programme involved the Jurassic Coast team and Dorset County Museum working together to produce an exciting, interactive display showcasing the fossil with the theme ‘The World’s Biggest Bite’. Mounted dramatically on a specially constructed plinth that shows the jaws in an awe-inspiring open-mouthed position, the story of the fossil is interpreted through a series of film presentations accompanied by a life-size model of the pliosaur’s head.

Dr. Jon Murden, Director said “It’s amazing to see this skull up close in the Museum – standing next to it you can really appreciate its enormous size, and get a feel for the terrifying predator it once was.”

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The Chickerell Plesiosaur – Cimoliosaurus richardsonii

Plesiosaur

Plesiosaur

From the ‘Proceedings of the Dorset Natural History and Archaeological Society’ Volume 10, 1889, an article written by by John Clavell Mansel-Pleydell, Esq., F.L.S, F.G.S. entitled ‘Cimoliosaurus richarsoni , Lydekker (n. sp.) 

Towards the end of the Mesozoic age a remarkable diminution of the huge reptiles which swarmed in the seas of that period commenced, and at the beginningof the succeeding age, Tertiary their annihilation was nearly complete, occasioned by great physical changes, especially affecting the relative positions of land and sea, the sea predominating largely “over the land in Europe. We pass from strata of considerable uniformity and of immense thickness over large and extensive areas to beds of a great variety of structure, from deep to shallow seas, estuaries, and rivers. With one or two doubtful exceptions, not a single Mesozoic species passed up into the Tertiary strata; the numbers of the new genera and species, greatly exceeding those of the previous age. Western Europe at this period had four considerable seas instead of one as now — the Anglo-Parisian, the Pyrennean, the Mediterranean, and one which covered the western parts of France from Normandy to Nantes.

As the chalk rose above the sea and underwent extensive denudation, a material diminution of temperature resulted, mainly through alterations of the ocean currents, which occasioned a disastrous result upon reptile life. During the deposition of the oolitic beds there was a complete uniformity, for, although occasional subsidences occurred, as shewn by the Oxford and Kimmeridge clays, with evidences of tide-level and shore conditions, no great or important break occurred. At the commencement of the Cretaceous age, on the other hand, there was a gradual submergence of land, accompanied by a considerable extension of the sea-area.

The marine beds of Punfield, near Swanage, which rest upon the great fresh-water deposits of the Hastings sands, are a good illustration of this initiatory change. Its effects are remarkably shown in the Yale of Blackmore, where, there is a great overlap or covering over of the upper oolitic beds by the chalk. The Hastings sands, Purbeck beds, and Portland strata are hidden, causing an apparent unconformity of the beds, as if the Lower Greensand had succeeded the Kimmeridge clay directly, without first covering over the intervening beds. Another subsidence and consequent invasion of the sea occurred during the deposition of the Upper Greensand, which spread itself over the oolitic formations as it passed on westwards, finally resting on the Trias of East Devon.

These changes materially affected the climate and temperature of those parts which came under their influence, especially through the alteration of ocean-currents. What would the climate of the greater part of Europe be, if the Gulf Stream was stopped or deflected? The Atlantic would be deprived of one-fifth of the amount of heat it is now receiving in addition to what it has in virtue of the temperature of space. The temperature would be lowered to a condition of climate as severe as that of North Greenland at the present day. If, again, the warm currents of the North Pacific were to be stopped, the northern hemisphere would be subjected to an entire glaciation. The fossils of the Palaeozoic age seem to indicate a uniform mild or temperate condition of climate, but not so in the succeeding Carboniferous age, which shows signs of reaction.

The late Mr. Godwin Austin found large angular blocks in the carboniferous strata of France, which could only be accounted for by referring their inclusion to the agency of ice-carriage, by glacier or iceberg. Large blocks of granite are met with in Scotland in the detrital beds of the coal-basins, which Professor Geikie and other eminent geologists attribute to glacial action. A large block of crystalline rock resembling granite was found embedded in a pit of white chalk near Croydon, and with it were other smaller boulders, all water-worn and composed of a different kind of rock, together with a compact mass of silicious sand derived from the waste of coast line of crystalline rocks, of which there are none in the neighbourhood of Croydon.

All had sunk together without separating, and must have been firmly held together both during the time that they were floating, and whilst sinking to the bottom of the cretaceous sea. Independent of seasonal changes, circulation between the surface and thesea-depths is aided by the co-operation of heat and gravitation. The Gulf of Mexico, which is not exposed to any cold supply of water from the North Pole, is a perfect reservoir of heat; further north, close to the shore of Massachusetts, is a cold current running southwards 60 or 80 miles wide. There are thus two currents of different temperatures running side by side in opposite directions and only mingling, where their edges impinge upon each other. Again, the Gulf Stream divides itself into several channels, the water of which is warm where the channels are deep, and cold in the shallower channels, occasioned by the water, low in temperature, rising from considerable depths over submarine elevated ridges.

We can now see the influence ocean-currents had, as they have now, upon determining the temperature of the globe, and the consequent disastrous effect upon cold-blooded reptiles when suddenly lowered. We have not time to dwell further upon this part of the subject, nor to show that Europe had not at the commencement of the Tertiary age its present continental character) but an insular one, giving free access to the polar currents without the counteracting exchange of warm equatorial currents.

The nearly complete fossil before us belongs to that section of the extinct reptilian class included in the Order Enaliasaurian or sea-lizards, but subsequently divided by Sir Richard Owen, G.C.B., F.R.S., into the Iclitliyopterygia and Sauropterygia; the former represented by the genera Baptanodon, Opthalmosaurus and Ichthyosaurus, the latter by several genera. Until the year 1841 Plesiosaurus was the only representative of this order in Great Britain.

At that date Sir Richard Owen removed from it two species, Plesiosaurus grandis and Plesiosaurus troclianterius, under a new genus Pliosaurus. The fossils of this genus were first founded upon two limbs, one of which is preserved in the British Museum, ,the other in our County Museum. It had an enormous head, supported by a short neck, in which it approached the great freshwater Saurians of the present day, with characteristic vertebrae, having a tubercular rising in the centre of the centrum, and resembling Plesiosaurus in its fin-bones and elongated phalanges. Their vertical range was restricted to the middle and upper oolites, whereas Plesiosaurus extended from the Rhætic beds right through to the chalk. Plesiosaurus is characterised by a very long neck and a short tail. The vertebrae are deeper and more solid than those of Ichthyosaurus; the neural arches are ancliylosed with strong outstretched transverse blades to strengthen the spinal column and to sustain the strain upon it in shallow water ; coast-lines, estuaries, and rivers probably being the usual resorts of these monsters.

Their remains have been found in the Wealden freshwater deposits. Ichthyosaurus, on the other hand, lived in. the deep seas, visiting the land only occasionally. It has a weak spinal column : the two faces of the centrum nearly meet in the centre, and the neural arches are unanchy-losed, in which respect it differs from Plesiosaurus. The Immerus and femur of some Plesiosauri — e.g., Plesiosaurus Manselii have a third bone in addition to the ulna and radius, and to the tibia and fibula, which T. W. Hulke, Esq., F.R.S., names the os intermedium and places it between the ulna and radius, tibia and .fibula, the homologue of which is found in the front and hind limbs of some living Saurians. A very interesting morphological question arises as to the possibility of tracing the homology of these bones and their relation to the carpal and tarsal elements of the higher vertebrates.

I have already referred to this splendid Plesiosaurian specimen in my paper on the fossil reptiles of Dorset, and expressed my opinion that it might possibly turn out to be Plesiosaurus plicatus of Phillips. I am now inclined to change my mind and to call it Murcenosaurus Leedsii Seeley, a subgeiius of Plesiosaurus characterised by its shoulder and pelvic girdles having only one coraco-scapula and one obturator foramen, and by a difference in the union of the neural arches, as well as by distinct forms of the ulna and radius, tibia, and fibula. Possibly these differences will not be held sufficient by Mr. Lydekker to justify Professor Seeley’s separation. This palaeontologist is now engaged in tabulating and arranging the fossil reptilian remains in the British Museum ; the result of his labours on the Crocodilia and Deinosauria will soon be before the public, as the volume is now in the printer’s hands, and will be doubtless as invaluable an addition to Paleontological literature as are his five volumes upon the Fossil Mammalia of our National Museum.

Cimoliosaurus richardsoniidiscovered at Chickerell, near Weymouth by Nelson and Helen Richardson in 1889

Cimoliosaurus richardsonii discovered at Chickerell, near Weymouth by Nelson and Helen Richardson in 1889 DCM © 2015

The remains of this Plesiosaur were found in a bed of Oxford clay in the neighbourhood of Weymouth last winter, and through the indefatigable and intelligent industry of Mr. and Mrs. Richardson, of  ‘Montevideo,’ they have been built up in their present satisfactory condition. The head is missing, which is not surprising, as having only one articulation with the neck, and that an exceedingly small one, it possibly became detached before the carcase settled down in its grave of clay ; that a considerable time elapsed previous to its being finally covered over may be inferred by the aggregations of oyster shells upon the vertebrae and bones, which could only have been attached when the body was uncovered. The spinal column consists of 71 vertebras, of which 31 are cervicals, 19 dorsals, 2 sacrals, and 19 caudals. The shoulder-girdle is nearly complete, consisting of coracoids,- scapulas, and pre-scapulse, two fore and one hind limb (humerus and femur), small portions only of the pubes, the ischia and ilia, radius, ulna, tibia, fibula, carpal, and metacarpal bones, several phalanges, and ribs.

Cimoliosaurus richardsonii

Cimoliosaurus richardsonii DCM © 2015

VERTEBRAE. — The dorsal vertebras resemble the last two cervicals, the centrum is rough, its height and length about equal, and both shorter than the breadth. In the fore part of the dorsal region the neural spines are inclined backwards, they then become vertical, and afterwards incline forwards. The neural-arches are not well preserved, only a few retaining their transverse processes. The centra are altered in form to allow the ribs to be raised, on the neural arch; their sides are compressed with a foramen near the middle of some ; the neural spines widen and are extremely compressed from side to side ; the position of the transverse processes remain the same throughout. The cervical and caudal vertebrse are characteristics of this long-necked, short-tailed family, by the non-attachment of the ribs to the shoulder-girdle of the former, and by the long chevron bones of the latter.

PECTORAL GIRDLE. — The coracoids have a short median symphysis five inches long; and diverge from their posterior border, taking an outward diagonal direction, and terminating hy a convex sweep outwards into an extremely thin dilated plate. The bones are thickest where the scapula and humerus articulate, forming a transverse ridge or keel. This ridge is equally marked on the dorsal as well as the ventral surface. Their width immediately behind the articulation is 15 inches, the least width across is 20 inches. The length of the scapular-articulation is three inches, looking obliquely and forward, and lies in front of the ridge. The scapula consists of a plate which is anchylosed to the coracoid, and from which a bone rises and ascends towards the dorsal surface, making an angle of about 50° with the central plate. This plate is 6in. long and 4in. broad. The inner margin, which is thin and concave at the base, is a continuation of the curve of the front border of the coracoid bone. There is 110 indication of clavicle or inter-clavicle bones. The inner margin of the ascending plate is concave, the outer straight. The coraco-scapular foramen,(It appears from a complete restoration now made by Mr. Richardson of the pectoral girdle that the coraco-scapular foramen was divided by a median bony bar as is now known to be the case in C. plicatus (Leedsii), of which the original restoration was erroneous.) one of the differences upon which Professor Seeley forms his genus Murcenosaurus, is not subdivided into two foramina, as is the case with many of this family. This continuous foramen is bounded laterally by the concave inner border of the scapula and posteriorly by the anterior margin of the coracoid. It is 14in. wide from side to side and 4in. from the anterior to the posterior margins.

PELVIC BONES. — The pubes are thin, a small portion only of them is preserved, and there is no indication of the syinphysis, this part of the bone being unfortunately lost. The outer margins are compressed from side to side, and are not so deep as those of the coracoid. The length is 18¾ in. Both the ischia are well preserved. Their length from the median line to the femoral margin is 8in. ; breadth at distal end, 5⅛in.; at proximal end, 8¼in.; at the narrowest part, 2¼|in. The iliac bones are expanded at both extremities, so as to extend over the upper part of the head of the femur.

HUMERUS. — The third part of the proximal end of the humerus is cylyndrical and thick ; it then widens into a broad distal end, shewing an articulate surface.

Cimoliosaurus richarsoniCimoliosaurus richardsoni. — Ventral aspect of part of the right pectoral limb ⅛ nat. size; h humerus ; tr, trochanter of ditto; r, radius; u, ulna ; r’, radiale; i, intermedium; u’, ulnare.
The ulna and radius are short, the radial portion concave ; two of the carpal bones are trigonal, the rest are polygonal.

FEMUR. — The articular surface of the femur is deeply pitted and tuberculate. The proximal end is constricted below the head before it begins to expand. Both margins are nearly straight and gradually flatten out into a broad distal end. Length 1⅝in., breadth 8in., 3¾in. at the narrowest part of the shaft. The tibia and fibula, and several of the carpal and phalangal bones, are well preserved.

Since this paper was read last autumn before the members of the Club, the Plesiosauridœ have undergone a complete revision under the experienced and critical eye of Mr. Lydekker, F.G.S., to whom I am indebted for his valuable assistance in the classification of this saurian. He refers Mr. Richardson’s saurian to the genus Cimoliosaurus which he distinguishes from Plesiosaurus on account of structural differences, especially in the shoulder-girdle, which are of so marked a character as to require a generic distinction.

He restricts Plesiosaurus proper to those whose scapulae do not meet in the median line throughout their whole extent from the upper to the lower margin, hut diverge anteriorly about half-way down. The scapulae are rod-like, small, and narrow, and widely separated from each other, resting diagonally upon a long plate (omosternum) which is wedged into the coracoid at its summit, taking the place of the clavicle of mammalia and of some reptiles. The anterior portion of each scapula lies at right angles to the dorsal portion, which has a long projection. Cimoliosaurus, on the other hand, has large, broad scapulae, which meet at the median line throughout, and are in the same plane with the coracoids, forming with these one shield-like plate. The size and strength of the scapulae do not require the supporting bone omosternum of Plesiosaurus. The dorsal plates, as with the Plesiosaurus are at right angles to the ventral, but differ in being short and narrow. Mr. Lydekker, finding the fossil possesses all the characters referable to Cimoliosaurus, gives it a place in that genus.

It is, however, specifically distinct from C. phcatus, Phil., the only other known Oxford clay member of the family, and to which I referred it in vol. ix. of “The Proceedings.” Among the other distinctive characters already described, the cervical vertebrae are shorter with flatter, terminal faces, and about 31 in number instead of 44 as in plicatus. Mr. Lydekker names it Cimoliosaurus richardsoni after its fortunate discoverer. Plesiosaurus proper is restricted to the Rhæustic and Liassic beds, while Cimoliosaurus extends vertically from the Inferior Oolite to the Upper Chalk inclusive.

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Come and Smile at a Crocodile….

The Swanage Crocodile - Goniopholis kiplingi

The Swanage Crocodile – Goniopholis kiplingi

A 140 million year old crocodile found on the Jurassic Coast is going on display at Dorset County Museum.

The 60cm long skull dates from the Cretaceous Period of geological time, around 140 million years ago. It was found in 2007 near Swanage by Richard Edmonds, Earth Science Manager for the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site team. Richard said, “It was a really lucky find. A part of my job is to monitor the condition of the rocks and fossils along the World Heritage Site but you don’t expect to find something this spectacular without spending a lot more time on the coast. I have collected fossils for thirty years but this is a once in a lifetime find.”

The ‘Swanage Snapper’ fossil has recently been studied at Bristol University and has been found to be a new species. The full name is Goniopholis kiplingi in homage to British author and nature enthusiast Rudyard Kipling whose crocodile characters feature in stories such as the Just So Stories tales. He would have enjoyed the idea of this prehistoric creature waiting just under the surface of a warm freshwater lagoon to ambush unsuspecting prey. Dinosaurs emerging from lush tropical foliage to take a drink would have been gripped by powerful jaws and rolled beneath the water until drowned or crushed to death.

Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling

Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling

However, this crocodile did not have everything its own way – on top of the skull are bite marks from another crocodile, possibly even larger, which bit down with such force that the conical marks of its teeth are still visible today. The crocodile skull is very well preserved, having been buried quite rapidly by lagoon sediment, although its teeth rotted out before this took place. It was slightly flattened by the sediment’s weight before it hardened into rock and is surrounded by fossil shellfish, along with a turtle shell plate and a poo (thankfully fossilised too). Curators at Dorset County Museum are grateful to Jurassic Coast Trust for funding the project and Mowlam Metalcraft for providing the mount for the new display.

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A Stegosaurus in South Kensington

Stegosaurus

Stegosaurus © NHM 2014

It’s not every day that a stegosaur travels from Wyoming to London. In a special talk at Dorset County Museum, find out how the Natural History Museum recently acquired the most complete skeleton of the iconic Jurassic dinosaur Stegosaurus.

In his first lecture on the subject outside London, Professor Paul Barrett, Head of Fossil Vertebrates and Anthropology at the Natural History Museum, explains all.

“The Stegosaurus launch took over my life,” explains Professor Barrett, “But we can now talk about this whole story and what we have in store for the specimen in London.”

After a year of working on the specimen in secret, Professor Barrett, the Natural History Museum’s resident dinosaur specialist, will reveal many secrets about the biology of dinosaurs and their evolutionary patterns. Many of the images which have been confidential until now will be shown on the night.

Professor Barrett’s talk takes place at 6.30pm on Wednesday 14th January. Entry is FREE and donations are welcome on the night to cover costs.
For more information phone 01305 262735 or visit www.dorsetcountymuseum.org

Geology Lecture: Treasures from Space by Dr Caroline Smith

MeteroriteChance and a fascination for discovery brought a young geologist to the Natural History Museum – she now looks after the oldest specimens in the collection.

Dr Caroline Smith became a meteorite expert almost by accident. At the end of her geology degree, she badly injured her knee, meaning she was unable to go on fieldwork for her thesis. Instead, she went to the Natural History Museum in London and was handed a box of meteorites from Antarctica and asked to categorise them.

Ever since, she’s been attached to both meteorites and the Museum, looking after their important collection, planning exhibitions and talking to the public. She says some of the most thrilling days are when big news breaks and she’s asked to talk to the press, such as in February 2013 when a huge meteorite streaked across the sky in Russia.

Dr Caroline Smith at the Natural History Museum

Dr Caroline Smith at the Natural History Museum

The collection also includes two Martian meteorites that fell almost exactly 100 years apart. They contain evidence that Mars was once a wet place, and that some rocks could lock away carbon dioxide, as they do on Earth.

‘It’s another piece of the puzzle that shows that Mars and Earth are actually quite similar,’ she says.

Dr Smith will talk about these fascinating specimens and more during her lecture at Dorset County Museum on 8th October 2014. The lecture takes place at 7.00pm and doors are open from 6.30pm. The event is free but donations are welcome and all are welcome to attend.

For more information please Tel: 01305 262735 or visit our website at www.dorsetcountymuseum.org.

A Century Ago

Poole High Street Project

It was November 1913, a year before the outbreak of a devastating war. The East Dorset Herald was reporting the ‘Death of Dr. Russel Wallace – The Grand Old Man of Science’ at his residence, Old Orchard, Broadstone. From an unpromising childhood with poor schooling and no scientific training to speak of, he rose to become ‘a stimulating and original thinker, a finely trained observer, a naturalist of world-wide reputation, a vigorous conversationalist, a notable explorer and great traveller’. ‘His supreme achievement was his discovery of the process of Natural Selection simultaneously with Darwin’. During his adventurous career he travelled in the Amazon (being shipwrecked on the return voyage) and later journeyed around the Malay Archipelago, observing and collecting specimens of the flora and fauna. It was here, while suffering from a bout of fever, that he conceived the theory of natural selection. Back in England, he wrote a…

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Wallace: The Greatest Tropical Naturalist of the 19th Century by David Croman

Alfred Russel Wallace

Alfred Russel Wallace, O.M., L.L.D., D.C.L., F.R.S.

Dorset County Museum is pleased to present a talk on the subject of one of Charles Darwin’s major contemporaries.  The event forms part of the celebrations marking the centenary of the death of the great naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace.

David Croman, former Head of Department at Salisbury College, Principal Examiner and teacher, will be speaking about the adventures, triumphs and failures of Wallace as an explorer, biologist, anthropologist and geographer and will reveal why he is now thought of as the greatest tropical naturalist of the nineteenth century.

The talk is free of charge but a donation of £3.00 is encouraged to cover costs.  The event takes place on Friday 29th November. Doors open at 7.00pm and the talk will commence at 7.30pm.

For further information please see www.dorsetcountymuseum.org or telephone 01305 262735.

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