Thursday, June 11, 2009


One of my favourite excursions with the kids is to visit the "Jurassic coast" in Dorset, this is a designated world heritage area of the southern coast of the UK, it's called the Jurassic coast because of the rich Jurassic fossils that you find there.

Here are a couple of examples of fossils that we found on our last outing.

First up we have a classic Ammonite, lovely spiral shape and to get an idea of scale I made the photograph on lined paper where the larger squares are 1cm, these little critters were around between 400 and 65 million years ago, going extinct around the same time as the dinosaurs did.

Next is our star find, this insignificant looking disc is a vertebrae from a large marine reptile called an Ichthyosaur, roughly 200 million years old. It is pleasing because it is quite rare to find one that isn't squashed.

Ichthyosaurs looked a lot like modern dolphins but were not fish nor mammals, they were reptiles that had become adapted to a life in the sea much like animals like whales and dolphins are today. A complete Ichthyosaur would look like this:

So the little bone that we found would have come from the backbone, probably near the end of it's spine or from a small animal.

No comments: