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Explore the wonders of the past at Dinosaur Isle

Mon 28 Jan 2013

Explore the wonders of the past at Dinosaur Isle

Individuals heading on an Isle of Wight holiday over the coming months might like to check out Dinosaur Isle, where they can learn all about the ancient world in the UK.

Peter Pusey, general manager at Dinosaur Isle, said anyone interested in fossils, dinosaurs or just those wishing to learn more about ancient life in Britain are encouraged to take a trip to the museum, where they will be treated to displays of more than 1,000 fossils from a range of prehistoric periods.

Opened in August 2001, the purpose built interactive £2.7 million Dinosaur Isle attraction has become a must-see for dinosaur fans both young and old. It features an extensive array of fossil records and pieces collated as part of the Museum of Isle of Wight Geology collection, while the unique building is an architectural triumph in itself.

Mr Pusey commented: "We have lots of hands-on things to do - you can help excavate a dinosaur in our sandpit, peer down a video microscope, move our robotic dinosaur, smell the breath of a dinosaur or chat to our palaeontologists and handle some real dinosaur fossils. Upstairs in our activity room there is painting to do, games to play and fun to be had dressing up.

"Our latest addition is a table top wooden train layout set on the landscape of the Isle of Wight, featuring a dinosaur dig over on the south coast of the island, a model of the museum and of course Thomas [the Tank Engine] and his friends."

Some of the most popular displays at the museum include the remains of a Megalosaurus - the first dinosaur to be scientifically studied - as well as a life-sized reproduction of Polacanthus foxii that has taken pride of place since 2002.

The creature is named after the Reverend William Fox, who lived and worked on Brighstone on the Isle of Wight.

In addition, guests can peruse the skeletal remains of a massive Goniopholis - a prehistoric crocodile that predated the waterways of Wealden - with fossils including the creature's teeth, ribs and armoured plates all to be seen.

Mr Pusey also noted that visitors hoping to get their hands dirty and head out fossil hunting on their own can also do so at Dinosaur Isle, with a range of walks and tours currently taking place where families will get the chance to do just that.

Indeed, with the winter storms now mostly passed, the impact these annual downpours have on the island mean that the likelihood of visitors unearthing their very own fossil discovery is quite good.

Dinosaur Isle works in partnership with a range of other bodies to promote conservation of the area's rich geological and paleontological history, including the National Trust, the Costal Management Team, English Nature (Natural England), the Isle of Wight Countryside Council and the Isle of Wight Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty unit.

Travellers hoping to explore the many wonders of Dinosaur Isle are advised the centre is open seven days per week throughout the year, although from November to March the museum closes at 16:00 GMT and last admission is one hour before this.

Daily tickets cost £5 for adults, £3.70 for kids aged from three to 15 and under-threes can get in for free. A family pass will cost £16 and includes entry for two adults and two children. Students and pensioners can get in for £4 each.

"We celebrate the fact that the island is often referred to as the dinosaur capital of Europe," Mr Pusey noted.

Foreign language guides in French and German are also available for guests, while the curators offer a free identification service for Isle of Wight fossils.ADNFCR-3083-ID-801529997-ADNFCR

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