Rock up for a spe­cial day

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - WILD LIFE -

IMAG­INE

We’ve uncovered fos­sils and pre­his­toric re­mains at Col­lege Lake na­ture re­serve which bring this an­cient his­tory to life. Dis­cover more at the Ge­ol­ogy Rocks cel­e­bra­tion this week­end.

Kate Sheard, Community Wildlife Of­fi­cer in Bucks, says: “We’re ex­cited to be able to show­case the his­tory of Col­lege Lake, and the amaz­ing fos­sils and pre­his­toric re­mains that have been found here thanks to a £74,100 grant from the Her­itage Lot­tery Fund for our Earth Ex­plor­ers project. This week­end we’re cel­e­brat­ing the new Ge­ol­ogy Rocks ex­hi­bi­tion with va­ri­ety of spe­cial walks and ac­tiv­i­ties.”

Mil­lions of years ago a warm, shal­low sea, filled with life, cov­ered south­ern Eng­land and Col­lege Lake looked very dif­fer­ent from the tran­quil wet­land and chalk grass­land that we see to­day.

The re­mains of tiny coc­col­ithophores (sin­gle-celled 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 when Col­lege Lake was a work­ing quarry many fos­sils, in­clud­ing am­monites and sea urchins, were uncovered dur­ing the ex­ca­va­tions. Take a look at these fos­sils close-up in the new in­ter­ac­tive ex­hi­bi­tion.

Scar­lett, aged five, says: “It’s re­ally cool. I love the brass rub­bings and the fos­sils are amaz­ing!”

Around 200,000 years ago 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.

Kate Sheard says: “The in­ter­ac­tive ex­hibits and dis­plays en­cour­age fam­i­lies to ex­plore to­gether, and there’s more in-depth in­for­ma­tion for peo­ple who would like to delve fur­ther into the his­tory of the re­serve.”

To­day, thanks to the hard work of BBOWT and a ded­i­cated group of vol­un­teers, the site is a haven for wildlife. The fi­nal part of the ex­hi­bi­tion looks at this pre­cious wildlife.

The poor chalky soil is per­fect for many spe­cial wild flow­ers and these at­tract a range of in­sects and other wildlife. Dis­cover how many dif­fer­ent types of flow­er­ing plant can grow in just 1m2 of chalk grass­land when you visit the ex­hi­bi­tion. Kate Sheard recog­nises the vi­tal in­put of the vol­un­teers who’ve con­trib­uted to the ex­hi­bi­tion: “We’d like to thank all of our vol­un­teers who have worked so hard help­ing us to put the ex­hi­bi­tion to­gether. We’re very lucky to have peo­ple on site with so much spe­cial­ist knowl­edge.”

Col­lege Lake’s in-house ge­ol­ogy ex­pert, vol­un­teer Rod­ney Sims will be lead­ing some of the walks this week­end. He says: “The ex­hibits will change every so of­ten to al­low us to dis­play a wide va­ri­ety of the many fos­sils and re­mains that have been found here. Ge­ol­ogy Rocks is a won­der­ful op­por­tu­nity to ex­plore the fas­ci­nat­ing his­tory of the Col­lege Lake.”

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