The Jurassic Coast Collection is an exciting new project for the Jurassic Coast Trust. This ambitious line of work seeks to develop our understanding of scientifically significant fossils from across the World Heritage Site, and it is our hope that it will catalyse investment in research, specimen conservation, acquisition and display.
We have appointed Chris Reedman as our Jurassic Coast Collection Development Officer. Chris joined our team mid-November, and is initially tasked with creating an inventory of scientifically significant specimens from the World Heritage Site that are currently held in collections in the local area. Chris will be working closely with local museums, visitor centres and fossil collectors.
We caught up with Chris to ask him about his lifelong love of fossils and the Jurassic Coast.
How long have you been interested in fossils?
I’ve been interested in fossils for as long as I can remember! My mother was always interested in fossils when I was young and so my parents would take us fossil collecting most weekends. I have many fond memories of cold winter days on the coast, collecting fossils and getting very muddy!
You’re just about to finish your PhD, can you tell us a bit about that?
The focus of my PhD is on taphonomy in the Jurassic mudrocks of Dorset. That means that I look at the process of fossilisation to identify why the Jurassic Coast boasts some of the most exceptionally well-preserved fossils found anywhere in the world. I concentrated a lot of my study on the pyritic ammonite moulds which are abundant on Stonebarrow Beach, (near Charmouth) determining the replacement pathways that produce such enigmatic fossils.
What is it about the Jurassic Coast that makes it so special for you?
The appeal of the Jurassic Coast, for me, is the opportunity for scientific engagement. I started my scientific career collecting fossils on local beaches when I was just a kid and I firmly believe that the coastline has the potential to inspire generation after generation of earth, ocean and climate scientists.
Do you have a favourite fossil from your own collection that you’ve found? What makes it your favourite?
My favourite fossil from my collection may be somewhat surprising! It isn’t one of the large ichthyosaur or plesiosaur fossils that this coastline is famed for, but is actually an exceptionally well-preserved dragonfly wing I found within a small limestone concretion.
I am always astounded that something as fragile as a dragonfly could find its way, undamaged, to the bottom of the sea to be preserved for me to find. It’s also really interesting to find terrestrial fauna in a marine deposit like the Charmouth Mudstone Formation, and points to the transportation of organisms from nearby island chains.