Amateur Fossil Collector Finds Two Metre Long Ichthyosaurus Fossil
Fossil collector Jonathan Bow made the discovery of a life time last September when he spotted an unusual rock whilst walking along the foreshore at Penarth (Vale of Glamorgan). This part of the Welsh coast is one of the most popular locations for fossil hunting in the whole of the British Isles. Fossils are eroded out of the cliffs and scattered along the beach, strong tides in the area scour the cliffs and a lot of fossil material dating from the Early Jurassic is deposited. Fossils normally include pieces of ammonites, brachiopods and gastropods but occasionally fragments of vertebrate bone are found. These fossils are from marine reptiles, paddle bones and occasional vertebrae can be picked up, but Jonathan’s discovery is truly exceptional.
The Prepared and Restored Ichthyosaur Specimen
Picture Credit: Jonathan Bow
Ichthyosaurs are not dinosaurs, they are reptiles but belong to a separate group of the Reptilia not closely related to the Dinosauria. Early Jurassic forms resembled dolphins and these animals thrived in marine environments for over 130 million years.
Commenting on the fossil find a spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur stated:
“This is a remarkable discovery. The specimen is almost complete and indicates that this animal died and was rapidly buried before currents or scavengers could scatter the bones.”
Everything Dinosaur has a number of Ichthyosaur specimens in its fossil collection. Most of the fossils are from an Ichthyosaur species known as Ichthyosaurus communis. This year, 2014 marks the bicentennial of the publication of the first scientific paper describing an Ichthyosaur.
The spokesperson from the educational company staffed by real dinosaur experts warned that on this part of the Welsh coast it was inadvisable to stray to close to the cliffs.
“The very mechanism that deposits fossils onto the shore, the action of the sea, is also eroding the surrounding cliffs at an alarming rate. Rock falls are common and we urge visitors to the area to take care and not to stray to close to the cliffs themselves. There are plenty of fossils to find along the seashore.”