There's a Dinosaur Isle?


So i'll be completely honest, I knew that the later dinosaurs like Mammoths and Sabre Tooth Tigers had at some point wandered some parts of Britain but it hadn't really occured to me that that wasn't all. Sure I knew we had a Jurassic Coastline but I thought that meant that it contained a few fossils and ancient rock formations. I recently had the opportunity to visit the Isle of Wight off the south coast of Britain, somewhere I hadn't been since I was a child and I learned something new, Britain was packed with dinosaurs! The chalky white vein that runs through the Isle of Wight makes it the perfect place for finding the fossils of these great monsters, and there's no shortage of those!

IOWFor fossil hunters and dinosaur lovers the Isle of Wight is a pure haven of treasures waiting to be discovered. The first stop on our dinosaur adventure was Dinosuar Isle, a purpose built museum in the town of Sandown. Here the Manager Peter was waiting and keen to tell us about the centre for all things dinosaur. This modern museum serves the area as a centre for experts and enthusiasts alike to gather together, study finds and take daily local guided fossil hunting walks. Peter exitedly told us how visitors regularly bring in strange rocks and fossils they have found on the coast to be identified.

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Inside the museum itself this small interactive hub is ideal for children to get hands on with learning about dinosaurs and of course there are a number of full and partial skeleton's of dinosaurs that have been found on the island over the years - at least 1 of which has only ever been discovered on the island.

Leaving Dinosaur Isle I was keen to get out and do some fossil hunting for myself. Sadly it turns out that I am better at tour planning than archaeology so we headed to another part of the island - to Britain's first ever theme park Blackgang Chine. This eccentric and eclectic theme park is built on a cliff side and has owned and run by the same family since it opened in 1843. The first attraction was a huge Fin Whale Skeleton which brought in hoards of Victorian Tourists and the skeleton is still on display here to this day. This incredibly well maintained little theme park still had many attractions that I have photos of from visiting the park as a young girl yet you wouldn't guess that they had been there for so many years. signThe newest attraction at this unique little theme park is called Area 5. Entering the 'restricted' Area 5 feels very similar (and not by accident) to wandering onto the set of Jurassic Park and following the board walk as it weaves in and out of the cliff side takes you past a whole range of full size, animatronic dinosaurs. As you approach the various dinosaurs, they spring to life, some looking carefully at you before roaring or simply getting on with their business. Even as an adult it's hard not to be in awe and a little scared of these incredibly life-like models. For children with a strong disposition it's probably incredibly exciting although my 1 year old looked fairly terrified and simply said 'don't like it, scary' and with a full size T-Rex shaking the entire walkway with it's deep and defening roar, who can blame him?

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Despite the area being almost 'too' realistic, it is a privilage to know that this dinosoar park (which incidentally was created in China) is one of only 2 in the world and a visit to Peru would be needed to see the other. It is an incredible addition to the wonderfully weird Blackgang Chine and yet another reason why the Isle of Wight really should be up there on your consideration list for any Great British Trip.

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More information on the Isle of Wight

 

By Ruth Lancey

Date: 2017-11-28 13:17:46