The Jurassic Coast

Of course holding SVPCA in Lyme Regis was rather appropriate given the profound history of fossil vertebrate finds from the area and it’s place on the ‘Jurassic Coast’ which is a World Heritage Site. While I have been here before fossil hunting, it was my first tip as a professional palaeontologist and with a much greater appreciation of the place in terms of both the history and science of the region.

Despite the name there are Triassic and Cretaceous beds along the same strip of coast (if you follow it far enough to the West and East respectively). The former at least is relatively nearby as exemplified by the partial rhynchosaur skull (in orange) on display in the Lyme Regis Museum.

The main fossil sites at Lyme Regis lie on the beach just to the east of the town. There are marls interlinked with mudstones and the former can give rise to wave-cut platforms that gradually emerge and disappear as the tides rise and fall, while regular cliff falls ensure new specimens like this are constantly appearing.

Though of course it’s the ammonites that everyone comes for as they are so numerous and often in superb condition. In just a few minutes its possible to find a handful, though getting the bigger ones back or even out of the rocks can be quite a challenge.

It was great to see this place again and go collecting and of course visiting the local fossil shops with their huge variety of local and not-so-local specimens for sale (and sadly in one case a bird from Liaoning). I cam back with more material and casts than I expected and a new appreciation for this place given how my work in Asia lends me to think of vertebrate localities.


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