Press release issued 18 October 2012
Visitors to the village of Tytherington where the West's very own dinosaur, the Thecodontosaurus, was discovered in the 1970s, will have the opportunity to learn more about this amazing local resident on Wednesday 31 October as part of South Gloucestershire's Discover Festival.
Discover Dinosaur Day! includes hands on activities to find out how Thecodontosaurus – also known as the Bristol Dinosaur as its bones are kept at Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery – lived 210 million years ago in Tytherington. The event is organised by the Bristol Dinosaur Project at the University of Bristol.
Visitors will be able to handle some amazing real fossils including a dinosaur bone, match up replica bones to a lifesize jigsaw of the dinosaur and learn about Thecodontosaurus.
Visitors can bring their own fossils for a team of palaeontologists from the University to identify. There will be a storyteller, the chance for children to dress up as a quarry worker both from the past and from modern times, and dinosaur games to enjoy.
Thecodontosaurus was discovered in a quarry in Tytherington when the M5 motorway was being built. The quarry was being used to provide the rock for the foundations of the motorway – and it also provided palaeontologists with new material for study after many original dinosaur bones were destroyed at the museum during the war.
The dinosaur's scientific name, Thecodontosaurus antiquus, means ‘ancient socket-toothed reptile’. It lived around 210 million years ago when the area where Tytherington now stands was part of one of a number of warm, tropical islands known as the Mendip Archipelago – a little like the Caribbean or the Seychelles today.
Thecodontosaurus was a small dinosaur, 2.5 metres long (about the size of a medium sized dog such as a Labrador with a long tail) with powerful back legs and smaller front legs. It walked around on all fours but reached up into the trees with its front legs, using its claws to grab hold of the stems of prehistoric trees known as cycads. Its small sharp teeth, each with tiny sharp bumps running along one side, were like knives able to tear through thick, juicy leaves. Thecodontosaurus lived in small groups known as herds, with the male animals being larger than the females.
Discover Dinosaur Day! takes place on Wednesday 31 October from 11am to 3.30pm at Tytherington Village Hall, Tytherington.
This image of Thecodontosaurus by Fabio Pastori was the winning entry in the 'Professional' category of the 2012 Bristol Dinosaur International Illustration Competition
Image by Bristol Dinosaur Project