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G'day all! After three years since my last visit to the UK, i finally returned in December 2017 for another massive collecting trip across England. This was my most ambitious tour of the UK's Mesozoic and Cenozoic vertebrate deposits thus far, with 20 days of collecting across ten different locations. These were (in chronological order from first visit): Abbey Wood in East London Beltinge in Kent Bouldnor on the Isle of Wight Compton Bay to Grange Chine on the Isle of Wight Lyme Regis to Charmouth in Dorset Aust Cliff in Gloucestershire Saltwick Bay in Yorkshire Kings dyke in Cambridgeshire Minster in Kent Tankerton in Kent. If you went collecting at any of these places in the last month, there's probably a 25.6975% chance you saw me looking very intimidating hunched over in my hooded rain jacket and muddy pants 14 of those collecting days were back-to-back, a new record for me, though it was very tiring! Having just come from the hot Australian summer, winter collecting in England was certainly a challenge at times and my fingers and toes froze to the point i could barely feel them on multiple occasions. Temperatures for many of the days reached 0 degrees celcius or below, with ice on the ground around me and even snow falling while i was trying to collect! I also went out during the middle of the night to collect using a head torch on some occasions (mainly at Bouldnor) due to the tidal conditions and bad weather which prevented collecting during the day. All in all i am certainly pleased with how the trip went, i was successful at all locations with the exception of Tankerton. For some of the locations (Aust Cliff, Kings dyke, Saltwick Bay) it was also my first and only visit, so i'm glad i still managed to do well with no prior experience at these sites and with such limited time at each. I have tried to write this trip report not only as a means of showing you guys my finds but also to provide an informative overview of some of the better locations for Mesozoic and Cenozoic vertebrates across England for others who might be planning similar trips. Anyway, here are the results! Pictures will be spread across the next 12 posts due to file size restrictions. Abbey Wood - East London (6/12/17, 30/12/17 and 31/12/17) Formation: Blackheath ('Lesnes Shell Bed') Deposit Age: 54.5 million years (Eocene) Fossil Diversity: Sharks, bony fish, chimaeroids, bivalves, gastropods, rare mammals, turtles and crocodiles This was one of only two inland locations i visited (the other being Kings dyke). As i have found, the majority of the UK's easily accessible fossil collecting locations are coastal! Abbey Wood is an excellent location just 45 minutes on the tube from central London. It is situated in a park called the Lesnes Abbey Woods and there is a small collecting area that is open to the public for shallow digging (see my first two pictures below). You definitely need a sifter, shovel and basin of water at this location to have any real success. Be warned though that once you combine the fine Blackheath sediments with water during sifting you get some pretty gnarly mud so expect to come away from this site looking like you've just been rolling around in the dirt. I'm sure i got some interesting looks from people on the tube going back to London it was all worth it though, as every single sift load produced at least one shark tooth across the three days i visited. Very impressive considering the number of obvious holes dotted around the ground from years worth of other collectors visiting. It should be noted though that the mammalian material from this location is of high scientific importance, and collecting here is allowed on the condition that any mammalian finds be brought to the attention of and handed in to specialists like Dr Jerry hooker at the Natural History Museum in London. I didn't find any such material on my trips unfortunately. Here is the designated collecting area. The statue at the front is of Coryphodon, one of the rare Eocene mammals that has been found at the site. The full haul of shark teeth from three days of sifting in the collecting area. Most are from Striatolamia and Sylvestrilamia. I gave up trying to count them once i got past 100 Some of the other fishy bits that often turn up during sifting, including guitar fish teeth on the far left and two dermal denticles (Hypolophodon sylvestris), one gar pike fish tooth in the middle (Lepisosteus suessionensis), one shark vertebra down the bottom and unidentified bony fish vertebrae on the right. I don't typically collect shells, but i picked these up for the sake of adding a bit more diversity to my Abbey Wood collection. These are bivalves and gastropods of various species. The molluscan diversity from this one location is actually quite impressive. Beltinge - Kent (7/12/17 and 29/12/17) Formation: Upnor ('Beltinge Fish Bed') Deposit Age: 56.5 million years old (Paleocene) Fossil Diversity: Sharks, chimaeroids, bony fish, rays, turtles, crocodiles, bivalves, wood This is my favourite shark tooth collecting location in the UK and probably my favourite that i have visited anywhere so far. The shoreline directly opposite the access point at the end of Reculver Drive in Beltinge is loaded with teeth and dare i say it's impossible to come here and walk away empty handed. The shore however is very flat so there is generally only about a two hour window of time that collecting can be carried out here, one hour either side of low tide. Conditions can also vary depending on how sanded over the shore is, whether the Beltinge Fish Bed itself is exposed and how low the tide drops. However even on a poor day you will still find teeth here, just not as many! I experienced this first hand as the first day i visited on December 7th the conditions were excellent. The tide dropped quite low, there wasn't too much sand covering the clay and the Beltinge Fish Bed was exposed. This allowed direct in-situ collecting of teeth from this rich layer and i ended up with something like 240 teeth from just a couple of hours of looking. The second visit i made on December 29 of the same month was almost the exact opposite. It's amazing how quickly these coastal locations can change! The shore was largely sanded over, the fish bed was covered and the tide didn't drop anywhere near as much. I was out about the same amount of time as the first but only managed 69 teeth (only ). Keep these things in mind if you are planning a visit. Luckily though i didn't just find shark teeth, i also managed to locate some of the other less common finds as you will see below! Here is the area of shoreline that produces teeth, photographed on December 7th. It was quite cold and rainy! Three teeth sitting next to each other as found. More as-found shark teeth. This one made me quite excited when i saw it. It's a large piece of chimaeroid fish jaw and mouthplate coming straight from the Beltinge Fish Bed itself (the darker, dull-green sandy clay in this picture). Beltinge is continued in the next post.
While digging around in some bone bed (Triassic, Rhaetic, Penarth Group, Westbury Formation, Rhaetic Bone Bed Aust Cliff, River Severn, South Gloucestershire, UK.) I found this tooth. I must have cracked a ton of this stuff over recent years and have never found anything like it. Fossils of the area are marine reptiles tiles and fish. Common finds are fish teeth and coprolites, plesiosaur and ichthyosaur bones, mostly, unsurprising, vertebrae. Oh and thank you Ray @aerogrower it's first outing Your wisdom and comments please! Labial surface Lingual surface Occlusal surface Root end Stupidly I forgot to photograph the proximal sides but hopefully you can get a rough idea from the other shots.