This section of the museum deals with the very beginnings of life. We trace the development of life from the early Cambrian period, through the 'Cambrian explosion' of life in the oceans and end with the Eocene. This was a time when birds ate horses and there was no ice at the poles.
Megalodon was a giant shark that lived throughout most of the ancient world's oceans, from 17 to 2 million years ago. He was approximately 60 feet long with a body mass of about 77 tonnes. This tooth, which we can see here in comparison to a modern Great White Shark's tooth, was found off the coast of Venice, Florida in the Gulf of Mexico. It was recovered by a scuba diver in approximately 30 feet of water. Evidence of these massive creatures is fairly scarce, leaving behind only their fossil teeth and (rarely) vertebrae in ancient marine sediments.
Sponges have been plentiful in the oceans since before the Cambrian period. This addition, Toulminia, is from the Cretaceous period (145 to 65 million years ago). Our examples allow visitors to explore the remarkable longevity of these simple creatures which vary in size from the minute to the mighty...
This dramatic Ice Age recovery from the Solent near Bournemouth, a 25,000 year old bison horn, tells the story of the land bridge; a stretch of land that connected Britain to Europe. Bison once roamed the UK in vast numbers, surviving the ice age and only being forced to extinction by human hunters and warmer temperatures.
Petrified Scots Pine Bark
Paleobotany is the study of plant fossils, and we are very keen on it at the mobile museum. The plants we have on display vary in age, this Scots pine bark is roughly 150 thousand years old and dates from a time when a vast forest covered the whole of Europe. The trees were practically identical to Scots pines we see today.
Crinoids are an ancient fossil group of marine animals, related to starfish and echinoids, that first appeared in the seas of the Middle Cambrian about 480 million years ago (that's 300 million years before dinosaurs!) They flourished in the Palaeozoic and Mesozoic, and some survive to the present day. This example is from Scotland.