New Ge­ol­ogy Rocks ex­hi­bi­tion en­sures fos­sils fuel the mind

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - COMMUNITY -

A new ex­hi­bi­tion, Ge­ol­ogy Rocks, at the re­serve is rolling back time to show­case how the area has changed, shap­ing the wildlife that lived there in the past and what we see there to­day.

The story of Col­lege Lake be­gan around 150 mil­lion years ago, dur­ing the Cre­ta­ceous Pe­riod, when south­ern Eng­land was sub­merged in a warm, shal­low sea filled with life, in­clud­ing fish, am­monites, sea urchins and sponges.

The re­mains of tiny algae in the wa­ter dropped to the sea floor and even­tu­ally formed the chalk that now runs all the way through the Chilterns.

Buried within the chalk are fos­sils of the crea­tures that used to live there.

Dur­ing the late 20th cen­tury Col­lege Lake was a work­ing quarry and the chalk was ex­ca­vated and used in con­struc­tion.

Many fos­sils, in­clud­ing am­monites and sea urchins, were un­cov­ered dur­ing the ex­ca­va­tions. You can take a look at some of these in the ex­hi­bi­tion.

Around 200,000 years ago, dur­ing the Pleis­tocene, life at Col­lege Lake had changed again.

The area was sa­van­nah grass­land and wildlife liv­ing there in­cluded wild horses, lions and woolly mam­moths. Bones and re­mains of this pre­his­toric wildlife, in­clud­ing a large mam­moth tooth and tusks, found on the re­serve make up the sec­ond part of the ex­hi­bi­tion.

To­day, thanks to the hard work of BBOWT and a ded­i­cated group of vol­un­teers, the site has been trans­formed into the wildlife haven we en­joy.

There­fore, the fi­nal part of the ex­hi­bi­tion looks at the won­der­ful wildlife cur­rently at the re­serve.

The poor chalky soil is per­fect for many species of wild flow­ers and these at­tract a range of in­sects and other wildlife.

Ge­ol­ogy Rocks un­cov­ers how many dif­fer­ent types of flow­er­ing plant can grow in just one square me­tre of chalk grass­land.

The huge holes formed when the site was a quarry are now the lake and marsh, and are home to a wide va­ri­ety of wet­land birds all year round.

Come along for one of the guided walks dur­ing the ex­hi­bi­tion’s open­ing week­end, which will be led by Col­lege Lake’s in-house ge­ol­ogy ex­pert, volunteer Rod­ney Sims, and mem­bers of staff.

New in­for­ma­tion pan­els and in­ter­ac­tive ex­hibits re­veal more of the site’s fas­ci­nat­ing his­tory.

The Wildlife Trust will be look­ing out for the best dressed vis­i­tors too, with a fancy dress com­pe­ti­tion. Take your photo by the giant wooden am­monite near the barn for a chance to win a prize!

Ge­ol­ogy Rocks is al­ready part of the schools pro­gramme of­fered by the en­vi­ron­men­tal education team at Col­lege Lake. The new ex­hibits will build on the pro­gramme and help

The Ge­ol­ogy Rocks ex­hi­bi­tion opens on the week­end of Satur­day Au­gust 13 with guided walks, hands-on fam­ily ac­tiv­i­ties, sto­ry­telling and self-led trails.

Go to www.bbowt. org.uk/whats-on for more in­for­ma­tion about all the events. to give chil­dren first-hand ex­pe­ri­ence of the re­gion’s only ge­o­log­i­cal Site of Spe­cial Sci­en­tific In­ter­est.

The ex­cit­ing ex­hi­bi­tion is thanks to a £74,100 grant from the Her­itage Lot­tery Fund. Staff and vol­un­teers at Col­lege Lake are look­ing for­ward to show­ing off the story of the re­serve and bring­ing its his­tory to life.

Pic­ture: KATE TITFORD

Visit in fancy dress and have your photo taken by the giant wooden am­monite, made by Daryl Fry­ers of Chain­saw Carv­ings.

Pic­ture: CLAIRE GAR­RITY

Get hands-on with Col­lege Lake’s very own fos­sils.

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