That’s the third week of my traineeship under my belt. My few days in Hereford pretty much consisted of doing some research into the Carboniferous period and then trying to come up with some fun activities for children. The point is to illustrate how different Hereford was 360 to 290 million years ago whilst having fun. This is what Hereford would have looked like back then:
Warm and humid, the UK was lying at the equator, and all of the coal we use today is from the trees that grew (and died) back then. The air was more oxygen-rich, meaning that insects and invertebrates in general developed much bigger body sizes: dragonflies the size of gulls filled the air and millipedes as long as 2.5 m (8.5 feet) roamed the rainforest floor. The shallow tropical seas were rich with life (corals, brachiopods, crinoids, trilobites and sharks) while the forests were dense with ferns, cycads, mosses and ferns. Lepidodendron trees could grow to over 30m in height. Amphibians were diverse and widespread, much more than they are today; the moist, warm environments were perfect for them.
Towards the end of the period, due to a drop in temperature and humidity, the rainforest became fragmented and patchy; all the wet/warm-loving species struggled while reptiles diversified, able to take advantage of the changing ecosystem. The development of the amniote egg in reptiles meant that eggs could be laid far from water, allowing reptiles to prosper while amphibians, who needed bodies of water for reproduction, dwindled. All the trees that fell victim to the Carboniferous Rainforest Collapse eventually formed the coal seams we use so much today.
So, after all that I have decided to make paper-chains, mobiles and hand puppets! Dragonfly origami/hand puppets, sea and forest mobiles, millipede paper-chain marionettes, among others. Hopefully the children will have fun and be transported back a few hundred million when life in Hereford, and the rest of the world, was very different.