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Wednesday, 11 May 2011

How to find a dinosaur!

Recently, Museum geologist, Paddy Howe and some friends went fossil hunting on the blue lias ledges between Lyme Regis and Charmouth.

Two pairs of eyes are better than one when you're staring at the bottom of a rockpool.

You can see how essential wellington boots are to fossil hunting.

Paddy spots something in the rock. Could it be a dinosaur?

Probably not! Although not unknown, land-living dinosaur fossils are unusual in the blue lias which was laid down at the bottom of an ancient sea. A fish-lizard or ichthyosaur is more likely.

The next stage in the process is to recover the specimen and see what it is.

What do you need for the recovery process? Well, obviously, a group of friends and on-lookers but also a hefty hammer and chisel.

Having removed a section of the blue lias wide enough and deep enough to, hopefully, contain the specimen, it is carried back to the FossilWorkshop to be cleaned up and identified.

What Paddy had spotted was the paddle of a small incomplete ichthyosaur. Now would you have believed that from the picture of the rockpool? A detail of the paddle is shown below.

You can see more fossil finds on the beach here.

Thanks to Museum Education Officer, Chris Andrew for the pictures.

You can book to go on a fossil walk with Paddy and Chris here.

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