Monday, 24 April 2006

Dorset, Devon and Ichthyosaur Bones!

We spent the Easter break in Dorset and Devon (the South West of the UK) mainly so we could visit the fossil-rich beaches along the Jurassic coast; Daniel was keen to go fossil-hunting. The South West is a lovely part of Britain, with dramatic coastlines, and rural beauty inland too. We spent some time on Dartmoor, including Becky Falls (with a name like that, we had to go), a scramble up to the top of Hound Tor, and then on to Totnes to meet a friend for dinner.

We stayed close to Charmouth, which is one of the most popular fossil-hunting beaches. On our first day there, we wandered down to the beach from the hotel, and spent an hour or so on the beach thinking that we probably wouldn't find much. I came across a piece of limestone with what looked to me like small verterbra embedded in it. I didn't really think it would be bones, but I put it in my pocket nonetheless. Daniel and Becca found a few small ammonites and belemnites, and we went happily back to the hotel.

Later in the holiday we joined a guided fossil-walk, on the same beach. Daniel persuaded me to show the geologist-guide the piece that I had found: I still thought it was probably nothing, but Daniel insisted! And he was right! The geologist took one look at it and proclaimed that this was a very nice find indeed: ichthyosaur bones! When we returned from the walk, the geologist took a few photos and promised to post then on the website. You can see us, with the rock, on this page. Look for the picture captioned "Ichthyosaur bones in a limestone nodule". Unfortunately, they don't seem to have put up the detailed photo of the rock. I will try to put some pictures of my own, here.

I haven't decided yet whether to get the rock cleaned-up: apparently, the process they would use involves painting the bone areas with a resist, then leaving the rock in an acetic acid bath to erode the limestone, the effect being to raise the the bone parts in relief above the stone surface, and revealing more detail and an extra dimension. It's a small rock, and the bones presumably come from a young Icthyosaur: I need to find out how much the process costs, and whether the result would be worthwhile.

It was a lovely break in a beautiful part of the country, and a lucky find!

No comments:

Post a Comment