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Local fossils

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Local fossils

Postby Bruce Everiss » Wed 23 Jul 2008 12:05 pm

If you dig down a bit here you quickly come to rocks from the Jurassic period that are very rich with fossils from 200 million years ago when we were at the bottom of a shallow ocean. This is what it looks like:
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There is a band of rock stretching down to the south coast where, around Lyme Regis, it becomes the Jurassic coast. (Dark red in this map)
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Here in Warwickshire it has been mined for centuries and the countryside is literally dotted with quarries, many of which are now post industrial landscapes that often hide their origin well, such as is the case in Ufton Fields nature reserve. Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ufton_Fields
"The site was originally agricultural, but in the 1950s had a change of use to quarrying, when Portland Cement (later Blue Circle Cement) began extracting limestone for use in cement making. After quarrying ceased, the site was handed over to Warwickshire County Council in 1972. It became a Local Nature Reserve before gaining SSSI status in 1981."

Warwickshire museum have an introduction to Jurassic fossils here: http://www.windowsonwarwickshire.org.uk ... /jurassic/ , you can scroll through the images then click on any you are interested in for further information.
Most spectacular are ichthyosaurs and plesiosaurs which were large aquatic reptiles. http://www.stratford-dc.gov.uk/Web/corp ... F70046B770

Here is a website devoted to plesiosaurs http://www.plesiosauria.com/news2.html with a piece about the one found in Harbury:
"In the collections of the Warwick Museum (Feb, 2004), This fascinating framed newspaper clipping. A notice accompanying the frame reads: "The finding of a plesiosaur fossil in Harbury Quarry, Nov. 1927". There is no mention of the name of the newspaper. I have reproduced the text below. The observation of a "third eye" is probably a reference to the pineal foramen, an opening on the dorsal midline of the skull, although the interpretation of the feature here is rather appealing! After a little research, I have concluded that story covers the discovery of Macroplata tenuiceps Swinton 1930, the type species of the genus. The specimen remains under the reference number BMNH R.5488,in the Natural History Museum."
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And from Time: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/artic ... 25,00.html
"Monday, Nov. 26, 1928
Three-eyed Mariner
In Harbury, England, is a limestone quarry which has served as a tomb for at least two denizens of primeval seas. Last February the fossil remains of a mammoth reptile were found there. Last week many a paleontologist hastened to Harbury to see another monstrous skeleton which had just been unearthed at only 300 yards distance from the first discovery.
The skeleton was thin, undulating, crumbling. The shattered bones of the gangling creature stretched 26 feet; projecting from the body were four chipped, broken appendages. These, the paleontologists decided, had been paddles. They noted with delight that the creature had had three eyes, the third in the middle of its small, narrow head. They classified it as a plesiosaurus,* a marine reptile which perished in the waters covering the spot perhaps 100 or 200 million years ago."

The Warwickshire County website says that a ichthyosaur was found in Harbury quarry in 1928: http://timetrail.warwickshire.gov.uk/to ... =2&page=28
"A photograph of Harbury Quarry showing the fossil of a lchthyosaur discovered there."
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Windows on Warwickshire: http://www.search.windowsonwarwickshire ... ource=7291
"Specimen now in the Natural History Museum, London. A similar one can be seen at the Warwickshire Museum, Market Hall, Warwick.
The quarry manager, Albert Hodges, is in the front row, third from the right, with a tie. He died in 1953"

Harbury cutting also produced fossils, especially ammonites, according to The Geologist magazine in 1860: http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=OQ4F ... ury&source

If you have more interest you could join Warwickshire Geological Conservation Group: http://www.wgcg.co.uk/
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Bruce Everiss
 
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