Skip to content

Finding fossils along the Jurassic Coast

  • by JW

“A unique site for its sedimentology and stratigraphically-important fossil horizons”


There have been concerns from the Jurassic Coast Trust about the impact any Beach Management Plan would have on the access to fossils – as their Joint Statement of March 2022 stated, together with Natural England and East Devon District Council – as “a unique site for its sedimentology and stratigraphically-important fossil horizons”.

This has been borne out by the recent fantastic discovery of a Pliosaur – a huge sea monster from the Dorset cliffs:

The skull of a colossal sea monster has been extracted from the cliffs of Dorset’s Jurassic Coast. It belongs to a pliosaur, a ferocious marine reptile that terrorised the oceans about 150 million years ago. The 2m-long fossil is one of the most complete specimens of its type ever discovered and is giving new insights into this ancient predator. The skull will be featured in a special David Attenborough programme on BBC One on New Year’s Day...

Removing fossils from rock is always painstaking, delicate work. But to do this while dangling on ropes from a crumbling cliff, 15m above a beach, requires another order of skill. The courage, dedication, and the months spent cleaning up the skull, have certainly been worth it. Scientists from across the globe will be clamouring to visit the Dorset fossil to gain fresh insights into how these amazing reptiles lived and dominated their ecosystem.

Dorset’s Kimmeridge Clay cliffs were once the bottom-muds in warm Jurassic seas: BBC

It will be interesting to hear about the risky mission to excavate the ‘T rex of the seas’ from the Dorset cliff:

It’s not every day that Dorset farmer Rob Vearncombe has to come up with a way to get a gigantic fossilised creature down from a sheer cliff face. Yet this is what he found himself doing earlier this year when he designed a crate on which the skull of an enormous prehistoric reptile was lowered off part of England’s Jurassic coastline – a massive engineering challenge.

“He deserves a lot of credit,” said fossil expert Steve Etches. Vearncombe’s efforts were part of a lengthy, complex and dangerous operation to move the skull of this T rex of the seas, which will be shown in a David Attenborough BBC documentary on New Year’s Day. The marine reptile was discovered in Dorset and identified as a completely new species of pliosaur that lived 150m years ago.

The scientific community is very excited – that the Pliosaur discovery on the Jurassic Coast is ‘very likely a new species’:

Pliosaur discovery on Jurassic Coast is ‘very likely a new species’ – YouTube

To go back to Sidmouth – here’s more from the UK Fossil Collecting website.