Fossils are the preserved remains or traces of prehistoric animals and plants found in sedimentary rocks. A fossil could be a bone, a shell or leaf but it could also be a footprint or burrow. In fact, any preserved evidence of the activity of prehistoric life on the planet could be considered a fossil. There is no clear definition of how old something has to be to be classified as a fossil but it's fair to say that anything older than 1 million years is a safe bet.
The fossils of the Jurassic Coast come from rocks that formed between 250 and 65 million years ago. This part of Earths history is known as the Mesozoic Era – the 'middle ages' of life on Earth - and is split into to three geological periods:
The Jurassic Coast is designated a World Heritage Site partly because the rocks form an almost complete record of the Mesozoic Era. The fossils trapped in those rocks are the record of life during that time, giving us glimpses at lost habitats, vanished ecosystems and the slow evolution of life on Earth. This is one of the most exciting stories from the Jurassic Coast and, with new discoveries made almost every year, it is one that is still developing.
The Fossil Finder is a database of almost 1,000 fossils from museums in Dorset and East Devon. Most specimens were found on the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site.
The vast time scales involved in Earth's history are difficult to grasp. The time spiral below is one way of showing the major events in the evolution of life. The Mesozoic Era is the time that fossils from the Jurassic Coast come from.
Following wide spread media coverage of a crack that has opened up on the South West Coast path, Dorset County Council is reminding visitors and residents that it is still safe to enjoy the coastline and beaches as long as the ever present natural hazards are treated with respect.
Dorset County Museum has received initial support from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for an exciting new Collections Discovery Centre project. The main aims of the project are to provide a new state of the art learning centre, better archive and storage facilities and better public access to displays of the Museum’s vast collection.
The birthday of world-famous palaeontologist Mary Anning on 21st May is celebrated with the launch of the Special Edition ‘Fossil Hunter’ Lottie doll; a collaboration between award-winning toy company Arklu, TrowelBlazers, an international, not-for-profit group celebrating women in palaeontology, geology and archaeology, and the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site.
This two hour session starts up at the Centre with a 20 minute talk from the Centre Warden about the rocks and fossils of Charmouth and how to find fossils on the beach. The group then heads out onto the beach with the wardens and spend the rest of the session looking for fossils.
£7.50 adult, £3 child. Click here for more details.
Join the Marine Warden on a Rockpool Ramble to explore the fascinating creatures of the seashore and how they live, love and do lunch! Suitable for any age, this event is run at Broad Ledge in Lyme Regis and lasts for one hour 30 minutes.
See the landmarks of Lyme Regis's most famous fossil-hunter in small groups with local expert Natalie Manifold. Learn about the life of 'the greatest fossil hunter ever known'. Explore the town as Mary knew it, see where she lived and where she sold her fossils.
Adults £10, children and students £3. Click here for more information.
Explore the amazing underwater world of the Fleet Lagoon. Use your detective skills to hunt for tracks and signs of marine wildlife along the shore. Spy anemones, sea squirts and scurrying crabs with our underwater seascopes.
Meet at the Chesil Beach Centre. Wellies advised. Adults £2, Children £2.
Explore the amazing underwater world of the Fleet Lagoon.Use your detective skills to hunt for tracks and signs of marine wildlife along the shore. Spy anemones, sea squirts and scurrying crabs with our underwater seascopes.Meet at the Chesil Beach Centre. Wellies advised. Adults £2, Children £2.Fine Foundation Chesil Beach Centre, Portland Road, Weymouth,DT4 9XE
The Jurassic Coast offers unparalleled opportunities for cross curricular learning both inside and out of the classroom.