Newly Discovered Ichthyosaur Fossil Removed from Beach

After the exhilaration of finding a fossil specimen such as a near complete Ichthyosaur, comes the hard work of extracting the specimen.  This has to be done with great care and planning, as the aim is to remove the material as intact as possible without damaging any of the actual fossils.  For Ben and his dad Dave, they also had to cope with the threat of an incoming tide as Ben found his Ichthyosaur on the eastern beach of Lyme Regis (Dorset, England) and although the specimen was exposed at low tide, once the tide starts to turn, it comes in really quickly, so there is added pressure.  The specimen, representing a young Ichthyosaur was found by Ben a couple of days ago.  He and his father then set about working most of that day and into the evening trying to prepare the fossil for that all important lift, the first time that the Ichthyosaur would have been moved for 180 million years or so.

Our chum Brandon, a local fossil expert himself, was on hand to record the moment when the fossil was ready for extraction.

Carefully Extracting an Ichthyosaur Specimen from the Beach at Lyme Regis

Video Credit: Brandon Lennon

The specimen was quite fragile, so glue was used to help secure the fossil and keep it intact.  Once this had been done,  it was time to prepare the block of Blue lias in which the fossil was located for lifting.  Chisels were then hammered into key points underneath the block to allow it to be freed from the bed.  Once this process had been completed it was time to get ready to lift the specimen and remove it.  This in itself is a tricky process, in the video you can see just how much water was seeping into the dig site and Ben and Dave were aware of the oncoming tide.  With skill and care the two intrepid fossil hunters were able to lift out the fossil.  The tail section broke, if you look carefully on the video you can see that there is a natural fault on the block and as a result the end piece broke off.  However, we can report that the rest of the specimen was removed safe and sound.  The two pieces of rock will now be prepared so that the skeleton can be fully exposed.

Lyme Regis is a great place to visit and fossil hunting on the beach is a lot of fun, however, we at Everything Dinosaur suggest that visitors take advantage of a guided fossil walk led by a local expert.

To read more about guided fossil walks: Lyme Regis Fossil Walks

Congratulations to Ben and Dave, glad all their hard work paid off.

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