Tuesday, June 6, 2017

A-hunting We Did Go... #dinosaur #fossils

This post was originally due to go up on the 23rd of May, but was postponed due to the London terror attack. Two weeks later and it's like deja-vu - another attack in London. But we Brits are famous for our stiff upper lips and whatnot, and after years of the IRA (frankly) doing a much 'better' job of it, we're not going to be cowed or subdued by terrorists. The One Love Manchester concert and the way the Mancunians pulled together should show you that. Never give up, never surrender!

The weekend before the first attack, we did another run to Walton beach to hunt for prehistoric shark teeth. Not such a big or impressive haul this time - more broken ones - but still a goodly number and including a couple of painted topshells, pretty clam shell, and a piece of mother of pearl that caught my eye.

While we were there we popped into the recently built Naze Centre, which had a handy display of fossils that helped us with identification. Apparently the big tooth hubs found last week belongs to a mackerel shark, which can grow up to 9m (30 foot). He wasn't too impressed by the name...until he looked it up and found it includes great white, thresher, and mako sharks.

Our smaller ones belong to sand sharks - smaller but nothing to be sneezed at when they could reach 3.5m (12 foot). The size and shape of the teeth depends on where in the jaw they sit (and of course the size of the shark). No mention or any sign of crocodile teeth in the display case but they were mentioned as being present in the Naze's prehistoric past.
Shanklin Beach, Isle of Wight
But we were hoping for something even more exciting while on holiday - a proper holiday, not just a break from the internet (though I got that too - the wifi was TERRIBLE!). The Isle of Wight is a place famed for its fossil finds, one of the most important sites in the whole of Europe and earning it the nickname of 'Dinosaur Isle'. That's not its only appeal, being designated as a site of Outstanding Natural Beauty to boot. We went for the beaches and the bones. On our last visit (where we were sadly driven home within 24 hours due to a storm destroying our tent) I found a scallop fossil just half an hour after hitting the beach. I had a large ammonite on my wish list. Youngest appeared to be expecting to find a whole ichthyosaurus skeleton or similar. He might be a bit disappointed, but you never know. Different beaches yield different types of fossils, and it's easy enough to Google the hotspots. Tectonic plate movement twisted the geology of the island, so certain areas will give you dinosaurs while others are mostly marine. After visiting Jurassic Jim (a shop you absolutely MUST visit if you have any interest in fossils or crystals, or plan on going fossil hunting, or even want something identified), we started our search at Yaverland.
One of the most common and easiest to find fossils - molluscs and sponges
all jumbled together.
I also found a couple of mollusc fossils - one whole and one part of an oyster.
Then as we seemed to be rather challenged on finding fossils, we signed up to a local fossil hunt tour via Island Gems in the beautiful Godshill. Felicity, or Flick as she asked us to call her, was full of information and entertaining (though if I'm honest, I was disappointed at not finding anything especially exciting. I knew we wouldn't find ammonites on that particular beach, but it was listed as a fossil hotspot. I guess I didn't have the eye for it). We did find a few at Brook Bay though, as well as seeing the famous iguanadon footcasts.
Clear three toe footcast, but if you look closely at the nearest toe, you might just be able to make out the smaller cast of an iguanadon juvenile that stepped in the adult's footprint too.

Echinoid spine probably Tylocidaris clavigera. According to Flick,
our fossil hunting guide, if you use a bit of bluetack or plasticine
to take an imprint, it comes out looking like the old style Coke bottle.
Left: sea sponge interior. Right: sponge outline.
The black specks (which are also shiny) are fish scale, teeth and bones.
Fossil coral.
Not fossils but minerals - Left: Iron pyrites (more commonly known
as fools gold), Right: marcasite, used in jewelry. The sparkle doesn't
really show in this photo.

Youngest was also happy to find a small geode - pictured above. You can just about see the sparkle of crystal. As for ammonites...well, sadly I had to settle for buying some from Jurassic Jim. Le sigh.
Large Morrocan ammonite (about hand size)

Small polished ammonites.
Really must try harder next time...
Of course, fossil hunting wasn't the only thing we did but I think that's enough photos for one week.
Our leopard gecko Yoshi.

So while we're talking dinosaurs...I think I can blame my childhood dinosaur books and a continuing interest for my fondness for reptiles. After all, the name comes from the New Latin 'dinosaurus', from Greek 'deinos' fearful + 'sauros' lizard. I feel sorry for reptiles. They get a bad rep in real life and generally in fiction too. So far I have two reptilian races in my main series - the saurians on Metraxi, and the as yet lesser featured chelonians from Camullan (though some readers might recall mention of archivist Teo from Gethyon and Keir). I've tried to give them a more diverse role, from the warmongering R'hellek to my misled saurian queen T'rill, and loyal captain S'rano.
R'hellek, Minister of War (copyright Pippa Jay).
The idea for them came from some classic Doctor Who stories featuring two reptilian races on Earth - the Sea Devils (amphibious and intelligent reptiles who came from under the sea) and the Silurians (the land based species, with various subspecies). In typical DW style, these were the bad guys (though the Doctor would argue conflict with humans was responsible for their hostility), though New Who has gone on to rectify this with Vastra and Jenny, and further contact with the Silurians with mixed consequences. I loved the idea of an essentially alternative timeline for Earth - the dinosaurs evolved into an intelligent humanoid species as humans have from apes - who were smart enough to see the end of the dinosaur reign coming and went into hibernation, only to awaken and find a bunch of upstart monkeys now claiming the roost. Take that line of evolution to another planet where there was no planetary disaster to wipe them out and no monkey, and I have my saurians, capable of good and bad. Sometimes I wonder if the dinosaurs might have made a better job of things if not for that darn asteroid...

Status Update
I haven't even started catching up on things from my holiday - this post is only the first job of many - but Reunion and Unexpected are both with separate editors. Revived remains untouched even though I printed it out and took it on holiday with me - I was too busy having fun elsewhere! Keir's Shadow is scheduled to go for assessment in July, with my overhaul still only 32% done at this time. Eep!
Cosplay making is on hold as I work on a White Rabbit costume for my eldest's summer solstice performance in Alice in Wonderland, and yesterday was spent making a Viking costume for youngest's Viking day today.
The biggest pom pom I've ever made, to give eldest
the fluffiest, hugest bunny tail ever.
A-viking we will go
Chook Update
How have you coped without my chook pics?! I don't think they have any concept about absence, but my girls seemed pleased to see me, or at least to be let out in the garden after a week of being restricted to their run, though not so happy at the stiff breeze ruffling their feathers.
Left to right: Scoop, Effie and Kyru
More pictures next week!


  1. I think I'd be pretty fascinated with all your finds on that beach. Thanks for all the great photos.

    1. Lol, I guess I'm spoilt now. I was expecting big things but luck just wasn't with us.

  2. Lovely beach! Love those craggy English seascapes.

  3. Fossils are fascinating. I haven't been hunting for them, but we came across a few on our recent travels.

    1. Did you take pictures/pick them up?

    2. They were in a collection in one spot, and for sale/on display in another. We took a few pics - one of a collection of ammonites. There are a few on this post. http://gretavanderrol.net/2017/06/06/through-the-outback-to-the-gulf/


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