On Wednesday 3rd August, Wolverhampton Art Gallery opened its doors for a day full of activities during the school holidays. Dr Fossil was invited along to talk to visitors about a few of the 10,000 fossils held within the Art Galleries stores belonging to Dr Fraser, who left them to the town of Wolverhampton in 1911 to be used for educational purposes.
Within minutes Dr Fossil was the centre of attention with children excited at the sight of these ancient creatures, which they had never seen the likes of before. With questions flooding in from all directions, Dr Fossil explained that the oldest fossils found in the Black Country come from Dudley and are 430 million years old! This was a time known as the Silurian, when the Black Country was a tropical sea 20 degrees south of the equator where corals and trilobites (like the Dudley Bug) dominated the sea bed. The doctor then went on to explain that as the Black Country drifted northwards near the equator 330 million years ago we were covered by tropical rainforests containing dragonflies with wings 1 metre wide wingspans and 2 metre long centipedes. It was these Carboniferous aged forests that created the coal that fired the industrial revolution and brought great economic wealth to the area.
Next the children took a trip to the Jurassic Period, the time of the dinosaurs. Here they marvelled at an Ichthyosaur spine, an ammonite and a belemnite. When asked what they thought the belemnite looked like when it was alive 150 million years ago, they were surprized when they saw the modern equivalent (which was pickled in the 1950’s) that it was a squid. Finally Dr Fossil cooled the children down by visiting the Black Country during the Ice Age, 12,000 years ago. Here they found a mammoth tooth which would have chewed away all those thousands of years ago in the mouth of a very hairy elephant!
None of the visitors expected to see this amazing fossil collection in the art gallery and the organisers favourite comment of the day was from a young boy waking away ‘Dr. Fossil, he’s sick man!’. Great fossil fun was had by all.