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This is my most complete fish, and I found it last year. I went fossiling yesterday and found more fish bits, so hopefully it's a good layer of clay for fish. I thought understanding this one might help me with the individual pieces. More experienced people than me pointed out it's probably a skull, and there are vertebrae at one end (right hand side of first image). But I've been looking at fish skulls and I'm still confused. It looks like a snout at one end, which seems wrong. Is this distorted? I thought it might be Aspidorhynchus as that had a long rostrum, but I think it's more likely to be a leptolepis as they are more common. It could just be I dont understand the skull. Any pointers would be appreciated. Jurassic, from the Oxford Clay, Peterborough formation.
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.
I found some great stuff yesterday, but I'm stumped with this one. It is a two dimensional stain in the clay, there are three pieces of it, and I think it is perhaps a burrow, or a trace fossil of some kind. I've seen things I thought were burrows before, but they didn't look like this, so perhaps I was wrong in those instances? Or a different type of burrow. It's a very dark circular mark in the clay. The images without a scale are taken with my microscope camera. ETA Forgot the important bit! Oxford Clay, Peterborough Member, lower Jurassic. They've put new clay in the fossil hunting area, and I'm unsure which layer this is.
Hi, @oxford clay keith @DE&i and anyone with any thoughts on the matter I go to two sites, within a few miles of each other, with exposures of the Oxford Clay. I've been puzzling at the difference between the biotas I find: Yaxley - Lots and lots of crinoid ossicles, vertebralis and surpula. Also plenty of gryphaea, belemnites and ammonites, the latter three dimensional and pyratised. Basically a lot of benthic critters, with some pelagic. King's dyke - No crinoids. No serpula. Haven't found verterbralis. There is evidence of pyrite, but this is usually a dusting over delicately preserved aragonite shells. There are gryphaea, but the benthic fauna seems less diverse. I'm baffled. I thought one possibility could be that Yaxley represents an oyster reef, glued together with serpula tubes. This would provide a firmer base for animals such as crinoids than the usual soupy mud of this period and location. Oyster reefs exist all over the world today, still exist off the coast of Britain, and there are very rare serpulid reefs off the coast of Scotland. Gryphaea are a form of oyster, and these unlike at King's dyke, are really encrusted with fantastic serpula tubes. I thought perhaps the Yaxley exposure was in the Jurassic slightly closer to a shore and sustaining reefs. There are some other important differences between the sites. Yaxley is an eroding former brick quarry, so relatively static, whereas at King's dyke the clay is supplied and renewed by the brick company from different layers of the Oxford Clay, and put on a site for fossil hunters. The preservation is very different, and in part that will be because the latter is fresh clay, just quarried. I could be as much looking at different layers as different locations. Both sites produce marine reptile fossils. But one seems more pelagic than benthic, the other more benthic than pelagic. Preservation bias could be playing a big role. Delicate fossils would not survive at Yaxley in the same way, leaving mostly heavily mineralised, hard fossils. All thought very welcome.