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.
Here's a sneak peak at the home page of the new jurassiccoast.org:
We are running a Testing Session for the new site next Friday, 27th November, at 2pm at County Hall in Dorchester.
If you'd like to come along and put the new site through its paces, please let Guy know -
. We would love to have you along and hear what you think!
Our Jurassic Coast Ambassadors have been busier than ever. Here's some of the things they've been up to all along the coast over the last few months.
Emily Cowper-Coles accompanied the Jurassic Coast's Youth delegation to the 2015 World Heritage Youth Summit, held in Blaenevon in Wales. Emily acted as a mentor and expert for the young representatives of our World Heritage Site. You can read all about the Summit from Youth representative Hannah Graham here.
Martin Curtis recently spoke at Dorchester Children's Centre's "Saturdads" group. Martin spoke all about the value of fossil hunting on the beach as a fun, free and healthy family activity. He showed some top finds from his personal collection and spoke to the Dads in attendance about the best spots on the coast to look for fossils, and how easy they are to access.
Our East Devon Ambassadors assisted at our first ever event for Ladram Bay Holiday Park, one of the Jurassic Coast Trust's new Business Partners. Tony spoke to park guests about the history of the World Heritage Site, and Tony and Donald led a walk from the park, with its iconic red sea stacks, to Sidmouth. The event was very well-received, and will hopefully be the first of many that we run at Ladram Bay.
Tony speaks about the history of the Jurassic Coast
Trevor and John try out our new ACME Ammonite Racer tyres.
Steve Snowball recently contributed some terrific facts about what Weymouth and Dorset were like during the last Ice Age for Jurassic Skyline's Winter Flights programme. You can read Steve's facts here.
The Jurassic Coast Trust is partnering with the South West Coast Path Association and East Devon AONB Partnership for a "Coast & Countryside" dinner on Saturday 26th September at Higher Wiscombe in East Devon.