Lions at ev­ery cor­ner

Kate Tit­ford from BBOWT gets up close to an­cient and modern wildlife

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - COMMUNITY -

DID you know that lions and woolly mam­moths once roamed the area we know as Col­lege Lake na­ture re­serve near Tring? Thou­sands of years ago the area was sa­van­nah grass­land and home to these large an­i­mals.

Mil­lions of years be­fore that, the area was cov­ered by a trop­i­cal sea. The re­mains of tiny al­gae in the wa­ter dropped to the sea floor and even­tu­ally formed the chalk that now ex­tends all the way through the Chilterns.

When the site was ex­ca­vated for chalk dur­ing the late 20th cen­tury many fas­ci­nat­ing fos­sils and re­mains that had been buried within the chalk were un­cov­ered.

A new ex­hi­bi­tion, Hu­mans in An­cient Bri­tain, at the Nat­u­ral His­tory Mu­seum in Tring tells the in­trigu­ing story of pre­his­toric Bri­tain. Ex­hibits in­clude some of the re­mains found at Col­lege Lake when it was Mar­sworth Quarry, such as the lower jaw of a lion and a woolly mam­moth leg bone, which are both around 190,000 years old.

Other ar­chae­o­log­i­cal trea­sures on dis­play in­clude a Ne­an­derthal hand axe from Burn­ham in south Bucks and a rhino pelvis bone found in West Sus­sex.

Pay a visit to the ex­hi­bi­tion and take a step back in time to imag­ine what life would be like if we were to have woolly mam­moths, lions and rhi­nos for neigh­bours.

Staff from the Nat­u­ral His­tory Mu­seum and the lo­cal Wildlife Trust have teamed up this sum­mer to run events in­ves­ti­gat­ing the wildlife that is alive to­day too. Join them at The Big Bug Swish at Col­lege Lake na­ture re­serve and sweep a net through the mead­ows.

You’ll be amazed at the va­ri­ety of tiny in­sects you can catch, from la­dy­birds and other bee­tles to spi­ders and flies. They are at­tracted by the won­der­ful ar­ray of wild flow­ers and grasses that live in the mead­ows.

The lakes and marsh at Col­lege Lake are home to amaz­ing wet­land birds but there is also a pond where you can delve be­neath the sur­face. Dur­ing The Big Bug Swish you can have a go at pond dip­ping and see which crea­tures call it home. Look at drag­on­fly lar­vae with fe­ro­cious jaws, wa­ter bee­tles and other wa­tery won­ders.

We are so lucky to have two won­der­ful places close to Tring where we can learn more about our fas­ci­nat­ing his­tory and present day wildlife. Make the most of them this sum­mer and have some wild days out.

PHOTO: RIC MEL­LIS

Join The Big Bug Swish and dis­cover what’s liv­ing in the mead­ows at Col­lege Lake

PHOTO: TRUSTEES OF THE NHM LON­DON

A lion jaw bone, around 190,000 years old, ex­ca­vated from Col­lege Lake

PHOTO: KATE TIT­FORD

Col­lege Lake – home to the re­mains of pre­his­toric wildlife

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