The Jurassic Coast – Fossil Hunting in Dorset

durdledoor

Durdle Door: No nicer place to hunt dinosaurs!

There are few things that capture the imagination as readily as dinosaurs. There is something about the human psyche that is drawn to the fearsome reputation of reptilian beasts that once ruled our world. From the safe vantage point of the twenty first century there is plenty still to fuel the imagination and what better way to get closer to dinosaurs than fossil hunting. One of the best regions in the country to find fossils is Dorset, an area that is so intertwined with the legacy of dinosaurs that it has been dubbed ‘The Jurassic Coast’.

Covering 95 miles of exquisitely beautiful coastline and extending into East Devon the Jurassic Coast brings us face to face with two hundred million years of history with rocks and cliffs gradually exposing their hidden secrets to inquisitive adults and children alike. This area is so important in the history of our planet that it has been designated a world heritage site and fossils are so prevalent on these beaches that the can be found without looking too hard.

The rocks along the coastline in actual fact date through the Cretaceous, Jurassic and Triassic geological periods, representing a passage of time that spanned the complete realm of dinosaurs on earth. Consequently the range of different types of fossils found on the Jurassic coast is rich in its diversity, from humble ammonites, belemnites and fish right up to flying reptiles and of course dinosaurs themselves (and their footprints). The most complete dinosaur fossil skeleton ever found in Britain was discovered as recently as 2001 on the Jurassic coast near Charmouth.

Ichthyosaur

The Dorset coastline is renowned for its stunning beauty and provides the backdrop to some of the most spectacular beaches in the country. Perhaps none more famous than the picturesque than Durdle Door, and its distinctive rocky arch. The limestone at beach level contains fossilised donut shapes  in the rocks and reveals the remnants of a pre-historic forest!  Heading west along the coast lies Lyme Regis one of the primary centres for the development of earth science in the country. The geology in the area has revealed some of the most fascinating fossils discovered in the last two hundred years including fearsome sea creatures such as ichthyosaur, made famous in the nineteenth century by pioneering local paleontologist Mary Anning.

Today budding paleontologists follow in the footsteps of Anning and can learn more about the history of the Jurassic coast at get up and close with fossils with guided hunts available at Charmouth, Lyme Regis, Lulworth Cove, Eype and many other locations across West Dorset and East Devon. With local experts to guide you this is a great way to get a unique and fascinating insight into the world of creatures that ruled this beautiful area millions of years ago!

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