Highlight: Scelidosaurus – The Dorset Dinosaur

Scelidosaurus fossil
Scelidosaurus fossil. Photo: Copyright David Sole.

Dinosaurs – monstrous prehistoric reptiles that dominated the world for over 150 million years, throughout the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods of Earth history. During this time most of southern England was underwater, which is why the rocks of the Jurassic Coast don’t contain very many dinosaur fossils. However, we do find one very special dinosaur here, a medium-sized plant eater called Scelidosaurus. (pronounced skel-EYE-doh-sore-us)

Scelidosaurus is unique to Dorset and is found nowhere else on Earth. An ancestor of ankylosaurs and stegosaurs, it was approximately 4 metres long and is one of the earliest armoured dinosaurs known. It had bony plates and spines on it’s back, a quadrupedal posture and a horny beak.

All Scelidosaurus fossils have come from the short stretch of coast between Charmouth and Lyme Regis. The best specimen to date was discovered in December 2000 by a local collector named David Sole, and is the most complete dinosaur skeleton ever found in England. In the years since then, several more fragments that belong to that specimen have been recovered and reunited with the original find.

A full-scale cast is on display at the Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre where you can learn more about this enigmatic and unique animal.