Woody visits East Budleigh Primary School

reptileNamed by a local school child, Woody is the Conservation Trust's pet Rhynchosaur. Lovingly recreated by the creators of Wallace and Grommit from a fossil skeleton found at Ladram Bay by paleontologists in the early 1990s, Woody has become the mascot of the Trust. She  represents an iconic creature alive in Devon 240 million years ago during the Triassic when torrential rivers were shaping and depositing the sandstone pebbles that would eventually give the Pebblebed heaths their name. The visit to Drake's School was arranged by one the parent's of the pupils, and it was a delight to visit them for a morning and introduce Wody to 88 children. Their knowledge of dinosaurs was very impressive (although they learnt that Woody was not, strictly speaking, a dinosaur on account of her anatomy), as was their ability to describe this prehistoric creature and how it might have lived.

Many of the children had their own dinosaur stories which they shared. The main aim of the morning was to make links through history from the water we drink in the Otter Valley today supplied from the Pebblebed aquifer, to the time when those pebbles were put down and Rhynchosaurs were roaming the land. A key point was that this skeleton was only discovered in the 1990s and that for those with an observant eye there are still many exciting natural wonders to be discovered from the Jurassic Coast and surrounding landscapes. Only a few months back, of course, a mammoth tooth was discovered close to Newton Poppleford beside the River Otter. Hopefully some of the children present will be inspired from meeting Woody to take a fresh look at some of their immediate surroundings; perhaps a few may even decide to become ecologists or paleontologists later in life. I hope so.

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