Friday, June 29, 2007

Fossils at Charmouth

I was on holiday in Charmouth a few weeks ago, its a beautifull little gateway town to the Jurassic Coast which I reccomend. Its beauty lies in the fact that it makes many towns, beaches and cliffs on the Jurassic Coast very accessable

While I was there, I went fosiiling on Charmouth beach with my son, so we duly rented a fossil hammer, and we were off. Fossils are the remains of animals and plants that have been preserved in stone. they are the raw material for the science of paleantology, providing direct evidence of past life on Earth and the way it has changed over millions of years. The rocks that make up the cliffs at Charmouth are rich in the fossils of animals that swam in the Jurassic seas. The coast erodes rapidly resulting in thousands of fossils being fed onto the beaches from the landslides in surrounding cliffs, especially after the winter storms. The remains that have been found here since the eighteenth century represent one of the richest slices of life in Jurassic times anywhere in the world

It had been raining the night before, so that should have given the cliffs the ideal conditions to offer up a few fossils. We were total novices, never having been fossiling before, so we were learning as we went along. As you can see, we found some ammonites, some better than others, so if we can do it, so can you! If the cliffs arent offering up fossils, there is a local shop that sells them!

There is a code of conduct relating to the collection of fossils, which operates between Lyme regis and Burton Bradstock:

  • the best and safest place to look for fossils is on the beach where the sea has washed away soft clay and mud
  • do not collect or hammer into the cliffs, fossil features or rocky ledges
  • keep collecting to a minimum - avoiding the removal of in-situ fossils, rocks or minerals
  • the collection of actual specimens should be restricted to those places where there is a plentifull supply
  • only collect what you need, leaving some for others
  • never collect from walls or buildings
  • take care not to undermine fences, bridges or other structures
  • be considerate and dont leave a site in an unsightly or dangerous condition
  • some landowners do not wish people to collect, please observe notices
  • report any important fossil finds at the Charmouth Heritage Coast centre

Source: some text from 'The Official Guide to the Jurassic Coast'

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