What is a dinosaur?
What: Dinosaurs were a group of egg-laying land reptiles. Unlike other reptiles they had a hole in their hip socket, which meant they walked upright.
There are about 700-800 species known so far. A new species is discovered (on average) every 10 days.
When: Dinosaurs dominated the earth for 165 million years and were the most successful group of large land animals ever to have evolved.
Where: Dinosaurs lived in all continents across our planet, nearly from pole to pole.
The biggest dinosaurs
A new species of Titanosaur was discovered in 2014. Based on his thigh bone, he may have weighed around 77 tonnes, and measured 40m long and 20m tall. But that’s still not as heavy as the mighty blue whale, still alive on Earth, which weighs about 100 tonnes!
Here are some other HUGE dinosaurs:
- Argentinosaurus (pictured below) weighed 70 tonnes (= 10 elephants or 6 London buses)
- Supersaurus was 35m long (= 14 Smart cars)
- Sauroposeidon was 17 m tall (= 3 giraffes)
There were tiny dinosaurs, too: Epidexipteryx hui was the size of a pigeon!
More dinosaur facts for kids
Some of the large herbivorous dinosaurs ate up to a tonne of plant material a day. The Sauropods (4-legged veggies) couldn’t chew – they had rocks (gastroliths) in their stomachs to help grind up their food (like birds and crocs do today).
A Diplodocus with wind could fill a hot air balloon with one fart!
The greenhouse effect
The giant Sauropods may have added to the ‘greenhouse effect’ of ancient Earth, giving off as much as 1.9kg of methane a day each. Herds of them could have produced similar amounts of methane as global natural and man-made emissions today (over 500 million tonnes).
The plant-munching Ankylosaurus had a small brain and small eyes. He used his armour, including a massive club on his tail, to fight off T.rex.
T.rex had teeth the size of bananas, but unlike bananas they could rip flesh and crush bone! See a T.rex tooth in the ‘Dig Deeper’ exhibition at Eden’s Dinosaur Unleashed event.
Dinosaurs laid 12 to 30 eggs at a time and incubated them under heaps of rotting vegetation (that warmed up like a compost heap) or sat on them like chickens do.
Some dinosaurs had light bones, a bit like an Aero (but not made of chocolate) which meant they could be big without being too heavy. Birds have bones like this too.
Some dinosaurs were probably intelligent (like crows are thought to be). Stegosaurus had a brain the size of a tangerine (probably not super bright). Some Pterosaurs had big brains for body size (flying is a tricky business). And as for the ‘raptors’, pretty intelligent by all accounts.
Warm- or cold-blooded?
Many were warm-blooded, so were able to remain active at night and during very cold weather (like us!).
Dinosaurs may have been brightly coloured to help them to attract a mate. Sinosauropteryx had ginger and white stripes. The Microraptor was iridescent like a black crow.
The dinosaur facts for kids shown on this page were taken from the exhibits at the Dinosaurs Unleashed event at the Eden Project.
Illustrations by Kathryn Nichols
If you’re looking for something to renew your faith in humanity, make sure you drop in to see our exhibition of sustainable products designed by graduates at Falmouth University.
These young students have approached ‘sustainable design’ in its widest sense, dreaming up simple products that not only put less strain on the environment and protect biodiversity, but ones that make life more manageable for people, including the homeless, the autistic, and the visually impaired.
Products for people
Hannah Scoones’ Band-it, for example, is designed to help visually impaired people easily distinguish household products through touch and colour. The bright, grippy bands fit around things like tins of food in the kitchen, or toiletries in the bathroom.
Kate Sargent has created a prototype to help the partially sighted get competitive! Her 5-4-1 race watch allows partially sighted to compete in sailing races. Worn on the upper arm, it features a loudspeaker and a contrasting LED display – all tested by Blind Sailing UK.
Simeon Goodwin has placed people living on the street at the centre of his product. His neat little StreetPack includes a water container, health products, a hand-cranked powered radio and a light.
Catherine Reiser has focussed on individuals with autism, helping them to more easily sequence their daily life. Her Treasured Routine is a bracelet strung with beads displaying symbols of everyday activities such as brushing your teeth, having a shower, and filling the car with petrol.
Products for the environment
You can’t miss the impressive Kernow Karr at the start of the exhibition, a dinky hydrogen-fuelled car made of plywood. Designed by Ben Whitfield, Evian Davies and Elliot Beecham, the vehicle competed in the Shell Eco-Marathon this year and achieved an equivalent fuel-efficiency of 600mpg!
Then there’s Joe Costello’s Imminent City, a conceptual design for high density living in the future. The architectural models depict a society in which we live in tower blocks, fed by elevated farming platforms that ‘grow’ on the buildings like bracket fungi.
And finally, one for the birds: Aaron Breeze has manufactured Nest as a durable, low-cost birdbox for the declining urban sparrow population. Its bark-effect concrete face is designed to be ‘approachable’.
These innovative students have just graduated from a BA in Sustainable Product Design, part of the ZERO50 Sustainable Design Centre within the Academy of Innovation & Research at Falmouth University.
You can see their work in the Core building at the Eden Project until 29 August 2014 in a beautifully designed exhibition, featuring interactive displays that show students talking about their own work when you scan them with your smart phone! Entry is included in admission to Eden.
We caught up with Simon as he prepares to conduct the Disney Concert Orchestra for Pixar in Concert at the Eden Project on Saturday 5 July. Set against the beautiful backdrop of our Biomes, the orchestra will perform music from Disney Pixar films in front of a giant screen displaying clips of the movies. This will be the only performance of the show in the UK this summer. Find out more and buy tickets online here.
Why is the conductor so important to the orchestra?
Because an orchestra will have 70 opinions about how a piece of music should be played. One person, the conductor, gathers these opinions, adds his own and becomes the arbiter of the final result. He is a sort of musical traffic cop!
For someone who’s never seen a full concert orchestra perform, describe what it’s like…
The difference between watching an orchestra perform live as opposed to listening to a CD or iPod is the experience of actually seeing and hearing what all the orchestral instruments look like and sound like. There is also a certain majesty to 70 people playing the same piece of music, which is part of the live experience. There is nothing else like it.
What, in particular, are you looking forward to about playing at Eden?
I have never been to Eden before so I am very excited to go. My whole family has been so I am the last. I am sure it will be an amazing setting for this concert.
How does Eden compare to other venues you’ve played in?
Outdoor venues are always challenging which makes them more exciting. I am sure Eden will be no exception. If you haven’t experienced an outdoor concert then you are in for a real treat. The atmosphere is always very special.
What’s your favourite Pixar movie?
That is a very hard question to answer but I think I have to say Wall’E. I am also very partial to The Incredibles. I was fortunate enough to conduct part of the score with the BBC Concert Orchestra and it was a tremendous experience.
Which Pixar character do you think would be the best musician?
I think Woody from Toy Story would be a good musician. He is so charming, very organised and inspirational. Maybe, with a name like that, he would play the clarinet!
Which is your favourite part of the Pixar in Concert show?
I am very much looking forward to conducting The Incredibles. I just love it’s supremely ‘jazzy’ but contemporary score.
How important is a good score to the emotional resonance of a film?
Music conveys the psychology of the drama. Whilst a character is saying one thing, the music can describe what he is thinking or feeling. This applies to all films, not just animations. For example, the last fifteen minutes of ET has about four lines of dialogue. The story, mood, emotions, atmosphere are all conveyed by the music. Audiences are taken on an incredible emotional journey. That is the magic of film music.
How do you think the audience will feel when they see Pixar in Concert at Eden?
To see your favourite animation characters on the screen, enhanced by the presence of a 70 piece orchestra, will hopefully be an experience that will only make you love them more. The Pixar movies appeal to every generation and this will be a fabulous event for the entire family. What a great way to introduce your children to live music!
Don’t miss Pixar in Concert at the Eden Project on Saturday 5 July. Find out more and buy tickets online here.
By Sam Kendall, School Programme Manager
It was a tough gig, but someone had to do it… In glorious sunshine, on Polzeath Beach in North Cornwall, whilst a pod of dolphins leapt around the bay, Eden’s Schools Team ran a ‘Teach on the Beach’ session for around 20 teachers and educators from across the South West.
The aim was to provide teachers with the knowledge and confidence to use their local blue spaces as a learning tool for subjects across the curriculum and so provide the opportunity for thousands of pupils of all ages to engage with this living environment.
Eden is passionate about supporting teachers to get outside more with their pupils, as regular access to the natural environment is now acknowledged as having significant benefits, including improved attitudes to learning, educational attainment, better health and a sense of well-being, and enhanced social and life skills.
The beach is such a rich, varied and dynamic environment that can provide learning opportunities for a variety of ages and abilities of students, across a range of subjects. Our day included science, technology, poetry, story and drama!
We love to work with an overarching narrative that links all the various learning activities together, and motivates students to complete their tasks successfully – and we find the same approach works with teachers too! Our narrative – or story – for Teach on the Beach centred on the beach’s ‘mermaid guardian’, who had disappeared during the winter storms and now needed to be contacted and tempted back to Polzeath by the teachers through a variety of quests.
Here are a couple of our favourite quests from the day. Try them with your own class.
The Sea Anemone Game
Adult sea anemones are stuck in one place, so they can only eat things that float or swim past. Their bodies are composed of an adhesive ‘foot’, a cylindrical body, and an array of tentacles surrounding a central mouth. The stinging cells on the ends of the tentacles are triggered by the lightest of touches, causing them to fire a poisonous filament into their passing victim, which is then guided into the mouth by the tentacles.
To play this game in your class you need a big bendy bucket per team (the mouth), a good collection of small plastic balls (the food) and blindfolds for everyone. Each team is arranged around their bucket in concentric circles. When it’s feeding time, the team puts on blindfolds and sticks up their hands, waving them about (tentacles). The task is to capture the food (plastic balls) as it’s ‘fed’ into the anemone by working the team’s ‘tentacles’ to get as much food to the mouth as possible.
We rewarded the winners (and losers) with some vegetarian sushi rolls wrapped in nori – an edible seaweed from Japan.
Teachers’ competitive tendencies came to the fore once again when we challenged them to build a mini raft using junk materials we’d sourced from our local Scrapstore. The raft was a last-ditch attempt to track down the missing mermaid, and had to be built to a scale that could be crewed by our trusty outdoor learning companions Captain Ken and Brigadier Barbie.
Some stylish craft were fashioned and the race down the stream was hotly contested. You could try this in school as an activity to give pupils the chance to explore floating and sinking, making predictions (an important scientific ability), as well as the design and build skills to make the rafts float and hold together.
Teachers told us that the day made them feel more confident about teaching outdoors, particularly for curriculum-linked activities such as poetry. Vicky Davies, who runs the Forest School activity at Berrycombe School in Bodmin, explained that she’s now keen to extend the children’s outdoor experience to a different environment, broadening their knowledge of other habitats.
Illustrator Axel Scheffler (pictured left) will be at Eden on 24 and 25 May 2014 for our Art of Stories Festival revealing his secrets of illustration and signing books! Read on to find out our 10 favourite characters drawn by Axel.
Axel’s colourful and charismatic drawing style perfectly complements the sweet stories written by Julia Donaldson. Here we’ve picked 10 of our favourites – let us know your favourites by leaving a comment below.
By the way, we also love the detailed backgrounds that Axel draws. He seems to be very interested in plants as he takes great care to accurately represent them, whether it’s silver birches, oaks, dandelions or poppies.
Probably Axel’s most famous character – we love the fearsome body parts, especially the ‘poisonous wart on the end of his nose’.
Mouse from The Gruffalo
He may be small but he’s clever enough to trick all the animals in the deep dark wood - and even the Gruffalo – into not eating him. Axel’s drawing deftly combines cuteness and cunning.
Witch from Room on the Broom
This kind character finds room on her broom for all the animals in the story, and you can really see the friendliness shine through in Axel’s drawing.
What a cheeky smile on this plucky young fish! This great story is beautifully illustrated with all manner of sea creatures, including a Gruffalo fish.
George, the Smartest Giant in Town
We love the way Axel makes this lovely, gentle giant look so huge in this book.
Princess Pearl from Zog
When Sir Gadabout the knight tries to rescue Pearl from her friend Zog the dragon, she stops the fight. Instead of being a princess and ‘prancing round the palace in a silly frilly dress’, she wants to be a doctor ‘listening to people’s chests and giving them my care’.
Charlie Cook from Charlie Cook’s Favourite Book
From his comfortable, brightly coloured armchair, Charlie sets off on an incredible adventure through reading. The room he sits in is full of references to characters featured in the story.
Wise old man from A Squash And A Squeeze
He’s the star of this excellent retelling of a Eastern European Jewish folk tale. What better way to show he’s wise than to draw him with a beard?
Butterfly from Monkey Puzzle
A cheeky, pink human face attached to the beautifully coloured wings of the blue morpho (a real butterfly) make this creature fascinating.
Snail from The Snail and the Whale
Although the snail is tiny and dwarfed by his colossal travelling companion, Axel has still managed to make him look friendly!
Don’t forget to come and see Axel Scheffler speak about his wonderful drawings at the Eden Project on Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 May 2014 at The Art of Stories Festival!
Permission kindly granted by Scholastic Children’s Books.
Permission kindly granted by Macmillian Children’s Books. www.gruffalo.com
Cartoonist Nick Brennan will be at Eden for our Art of Stories Festival this May half-term running workshops on how to draw a comic character. Read on to find out some of his secrets!
An idea for a new character might come to you in a flash of inspiration, in a dream, perhaps you might have to draw a character that someone else has created in a script, or a character might appear out of a doodle. However it happens, it’s up to you to decide on what the character looks like. It might be based on somebody you know, or it might all come out of your own head. As I’m going to be visiting the Eden Project, I thought I’d draw a gardener! I had the idea of a large, stocky gardener tending a very small, delicate flower…
1. I started off by drawing some very rough shapes, in pencil, for his head and body. I also decided on a pose – my gardener watering his small flower with a watering can. Sometimes it can help to give your character a name, although I didn’t in this case.
2. Now that I’ve got a rough shape for my character, I can start to add some detail. I added his facial features, imagining him happy tending to his flower, and also added some clothes; a waistcoat and trousers held up with twine.
3. A bit more detail here. I’ve given him a hat and some boots, and I thought it would be fun to have a rabbit waiting to pounce on his flower as soon as his back was turned. Everything is still being drawn in pencil; so that if I make a mistake I can rub it out.
4. Why stop at one rabbit, I thought, and added a whole load more! While this isn’t exactly part of the design of the character, we can assume from this that he’s not the most observant of chaps!
5. I’m quite happy with how my character’s looking; so I’m going to start inking him in. Here is the first inking, and you can still see all the pencil lines I used in the rough drawing. You need to be careful here, because not all of the lines need to be inked in.
6. I’ve rubbed out all the pencil lines now, and am left with a nice clean inked picture (apart from the bit of line that I inked by mistake!).
7. All I’ve done here is thicken up some of the lines to define the main parts of my character. I’ve left some of the lines thinner to add some visual interest to the picture.
8. And now I’ve added some shadows (and managed to hide the line I inked by mistake at the same time) and little bits of detail, and my picture is finished…
9. … or is it? I thought that my gardener didn’t look quite daft enough, given that he’s totally oblivious to the multitude of rabbits that are waiting to scoff his little flower; so I thought I’d give him some silly teeth. Which I think has finished him off nicely.
10. For a final touch he’s coloured up digitally, and all I need to do now is decide on a name for him – any ideas?
Come and get more tips on drawing comic characters from Nick Brennan at the Eden Project’s Art of Stories Festival. Nick will be running workshops at the following times:
- Saturday 24 – Thursday 29 May, and Sunday 1 June 2014 from 11am to 5pm
We’re recruiting 20-25 apprentices to join us on the team!
These lucky people will learn an occupation through a combination of working at Eden and taking part in off-the-job training and development delivered with Cornwall College. The apprentices will work across six teams.
The new apprenticeship scheme is being run in partnership with The Cornwall College Group and its specialist Rural Environment arm Duchy College. The programme will see the paid apprentices working across a range of different teams including horticulture, vehicle maintenance, hospitality, the visitor experience, media and creative design.
The apprenticeships are open to motivated people aged 16 and over with any level of qualification, who are looking for a structured opportunity to learn and earn at the same time.
Eden’s apprenticeships will be full time, for a period of up to two years. Apprentices will be paid and expected to work 40 hours a week, which will generally be four days a week at Eden and one day in off-the-job training either at the College or on the Eden site.
Riyah Snow (pictured), 21, is currently an apprentice in the Eden Project’s horticulture team, working four days a week at the project and one day at Duchy College’s Rosewarne campus.
By the time she has completed her course she will have gained a year of experience working in one of the UK’s most high-profile gardens as well as a Work-Based Horticulture City & Guilds Diploma Level 2.
Riyah is from St. Agnes in Cornwall. After completing her GCSEs at Richard Lander School in Truro, she did a Level 3 Extended Diploma in Art and Design at Truro College. As a keen gardener, she decided to change direction and start studying with a view to a career in horticulture.
Riyah said: ‘I knew I wanted to work in horticulture, but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to specialise in. The Eden apprenticeship has given me the opportunity to work across lots of different areas – from tree-felling with the outer estates team to planting spring flowers and looking after tropical plants in the Biomes.
‘The apprenticeship scheme has worked out really well for me because it gives me vital job experience as well as a formal qualification.’
Open day, 17 May 2014
People who are thinking of applying or would like to know more can come along to an open day at Eden on Saturday 17 May 2014 from 10am to 2pm. The event is free to attend and will be held in Eden’s Gallery.
There will be an opportunity to meet members of the Eden and College teams to find out more about the work and courses. We will also be joined by Steven Gilbert MP to help us launch this event.
How to apply
Applications for the Eden Project apprenticeship scheme will be open from May 19 2014. Anyone who is interested in applying should visit www.edenproject.com/apprenticeships or call the Eden Project recruitment line on 01726 811967.
Ever wondered what it’s like to work in a rainforest? At Eden, some of our horticulturalists do just that. We caught up with Eden gardener Lucy Wenger.
What’s the best bit about working in the Rainforest Biome?
That I get to work with people from different backgrounds who have been to different places all over the world. Because we can draw on everyone’s experiences we get an unbeatable knowledge of growing tropical plants in the most authentic ways. One gardener will know firsthand how coffee is grown in the Philippines, while someone else will know how it’s grown in Costa Rica.
It’s not all about forks and spades in the rainforest, is it; do you use machetes?
Yes! And chainsaws. We also go high up in the canopy on a cherry picker to prune and water our harder-to-reach plants. Sometimes, when we can’t manoeuvre the cherry picker into the right spot, I get to hang down from ropes attached 100 feet up in the air!
Do you have a favourite plant in the Biome?
I really like our jade vine, flowering in the Malaysian section at the moment, because it’s an amazingly vibrant colour and because it’s pollinated by bats. Other than that, my favourite plant is rice. Sounds really boring, but visitors are amazed by it because they’ve never actually had the chance to see or touch it before.
What’s it like working in that kind of heat every day?
We have to take things more slowly and make sure we’ve always got water on us. But the great thing is, if it gets too hot, we can just step outside into the Cornish air and buy an ice cream. You couldn’t do that if you were in a real rainforest!
Have you visited a real rainforest?
I have visited and worked in rainforests around the world. But you still can’t beat having our Rainforest Biome here. You walk inside and its sheer size and diversity – with all these tangly climbers – makes you feel like you’re in a real rainforest.
What’s the strangest thing you’ve had to do in your role?
For April Fool’s Day, Eden organised a stunt where we ‘discovered’ a new species of dinosaur in the Biome. It was my job to scrabble around on the ground and dig up dinosaur footprints. I had one of those moments where I thought, ‘I didn’t think I’d ever be doing this as part of a job!’
From specimens that snap shut to individuals that curl up, carnivorous plants are expert meat-eaters. This group of 400 or so species has cleverly adapted to living in poor soil – getting their nutrients from insects and the like instead. We take a look at five of the most fascinating…
Tropical pitcher plant (Nepenthes)
Native to: Southeast Asia
The pitcher’s vase-like leaf produces and contains a sweet liquid in which the plant drowns its prey. Ants and flies are attracted to the plant’s colourful appearance and victims often make the lethal mistake of landing on its very slippery lip… Once inside, it’s nearly impossible to escape from the trap’s waxy coating. The plant is then able to digest the prey and extract is nutrients.
The pitcher mostly feasts on insects such as ants and flies, but animals as big as rats and frogs have been known to accidentally fall into the pitcher!
Some insect larvae can thrive inside the pitcher’s trap, while animals such as frogs and bats use the plant’s lid structure to shelter themselves.
You can come and have a look at these clever plants at Eden! The Highland tropical pitcher plant (Nepenthes spectabilis x ventricosa) grows in our Rainforest Biome.
Venus flytrap (Dionaea muscipula)
Native to: wetlands of east coastal US
How it works:
With leaves that snap shut as soon as prey touches their ‘trigger’ hairs, the Venus flytrap is one of the only plants on earth that moves right before your eyes! It’s still not confirmed how the flytrap actually moves, but it may be that it’s caused by an electrical current moving through the plant’s cellular structure.
The flytrap eats a variety of insects and is especially fond of grasshoppers and spiders.
A flytrap leaf can snap shut in under a second! However, each leaf can only snap shut three to four times over the flytrap’s lifetime.
Despite its name, only about 5% of the flytrap’s diet actually consists of flies.
Interested in growing your own Venus flytrap? This handy seed kit has got everything you need to grow one.
Native to: all continents except Antarctica
How it works:
Often described as ‘living flypaper’, the sundew has tentacle-like leaves which are covered in sticky, glandular hairs. The plant’s tacky secretion gives off a sweet scent, which attracts insects. Once an insect is stuck to its leaf, the sundew will curl inwards to start digesting its prey.
The sundew eats all kinds of insects, including flies, spiders and mosquitoes.
Some species of sundew can bend their leaves inwards in just a few seconds after contact with an insect; others can even do so in mere tenths of a second!
Cobra lily (Darlingtonia californica)
Native to: California and Oregon, US
How it works:
The cobra lily attracts insects with its scent and the sweet nectar on its ‘tongue’, which is cleverly highlighted by sunlight shining through a transparent area on its upper lid.
Once an insect has ventured inside the lily’s tube-like leaf structure, the plant’s slippery secretions and downward hairs cause the insect to fall into the lily’s trap, where it’s then slowly digested.
The cobra lily enjoys eating insects such as beetles and flies.
The cobra lily gets its name from its unusually shaped leaves, which resemble the rearing head and forked tongue of a cobra.
Native to: all continents except Antarctica
How it works:
Mostly found living in lakes and rivers, the bladderwort has a floating stem with tiny sack-like traps growing along it. These traps, or ‘bladders’, have clever door-like valves that open and shut within thousandths of a second when triggered.
A bladderwort’s trap works by pumping water out through its walls, which builds pressure and ‘sets’ the trap like a spring. Long hairs attached to the trap act like levers and, when an insect touches one of them, the bladder’s door will open and suck in a stream of water – and the insect along with it! When the trap is full of water, the door closes again and the plant digests its prey.
The bladderwort likes to eat lots of different aquatic species, such as mosquito larvae, water fleas and even young tadpoles.
With its traps able to snap shut in as little as 1/35th of a second, the bladderwort is 100 times faster than the Venus flytrap at catching its prey!
Have you tried the wholesome cheese scones served in our cafes at the Eden Project? Now you can make your own with this simple recipe.
Ingredients (makes 8)
- 660g plain flour
- 35g baking powder
- 90g sugar
- 90g butter
- 2 eggs
- 315ml milk
- 150g grated cheddar cheese
- 1 egg
- 20ml milk
- 80g grated cheddar cheese
- Preheat the oven to 225C.
- Mix the flour, baking powder, sugar and butter in a bowl for five minutes.
- Mix the milk and eggs together and add slowly to the dry mix.
- Add the cheese and mix for one to two minutes.
- Roll out the dough to a 3cm thickness and cut with the scone cutter.
- Glaze the scones with the egg wash and dip them into the remaining cheese.
- Let the scones rest for 10 minutes.
- Bake the scones in the oven for 15-18 minutes, until golden brown.
With thanks to Alpha for the above photo.