Friday, 13 February 2015

Fossiling on The Fleet

On Sunday we had a family outing to The Fleet in Dorset to do a bit of fossiling. I studied Palaeontology at University many moons ago and still like to have a dabble now and again. We usually go to Seatown, Charmouth or Lyme Regis but thought we'd try somewhere new. We headed for a spot on the East Fleet where the Oxford Clay is exposed on the shoreline. The weather was glorious and it felt very springlike but best of all it was totally deserted and the only company we had was a lone Peacock butterfly and a small party of Brent Geese out on the water.

The fossils get washed out of the clay 'cliffs' and can be found on the beach. They are however generally very small and cannot easily be seen by just walking along.

Why is there always a flip-flop on every beach everywhere!?

This is the optimal strategy for finding the tiny fossils. I even had to put my glasses on.
Some of the fossils are very tiny indeed and I found one ammonite that was just 3mm across.

This is part of what we found in a couple of hours. 

This is the largest pyritized ammonite that I've ever found. I was lucky enough to spot it just poking out of the mud at the base of the 'cliff'.

I think it is Quenstedtoceras lamberti


The intricate suture lines marking the edge of the shell's chambers show up really well.

The majority of ammonites found are around this size.

Some are extremely small.

Belemnites are extemely common and these can be seen whilst walking along, I think these ones are
Hibolithes hastata


My favourite find of the day was this Pentacrinites or 'star stone' in the vernacular. I've found sections of crinoid (sea lily) stem before but this is the first individual ossicle. I love the amazing intricate pattern and the star shape. You need to look closely to see it though because the ossicle is only 5mm across.

I'd like to have found this ammonite complete, this section is 4cm deep which means the whole ammonite would have been in the region of 12cm in diameter.

The hazy afternoon sun over a flat calm fleet. 


Wilma said...

Beautiful fossils, Karen. They are so intricate; natural works of art.

Natasha Hill said...

Beautiful fossil finds, those ammonites are stunning! I've not come across anything as fascinating while out on the beach near me, but I have very good memories of Lyme Regis. We went there on a field trip on my university course and got to walk along the beach there, but it looks like you got a nicer, brighter day! - Tasha

David said...

Great post, Karen!
How cool to have done a palaeontology degree!
My passion for fossil hunting began at Charmouth when I was six: nearly sixty years later I make a living selling / lecturing about rocks! (Albeit ones from space!)

Karen Woolley said...

Thanks for comments folks. Appreciated as always.

David, My degree was in biology/geology as a duel subject so palaeontology was the only area of crossover really! I studied trace fossils in the Osmingtom Mills area.