The Jurassic Coast Collection is an exciting new heritage project that aims to identify and record a globally important collection of fossils which explicitly demonstrate the Outstanding Universal Value of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site. The project is a wide-reaching collaboration between museums, academics, individual fossil collectors and the Jurassic Coast Trust.

The project aims to provide access to a collection of world-class fossil specimens through creation of a digital platform and a series of special exhibitions. These will give the public an opportunity to engage with the extraordinary story of the Jurassic Coast as told by its fossils, and to better appreciate the global reach of this most famous of fossil sites. Have a browse through the latest additions to the collection through the project’s Instagram feed.

Background to the Project

The Jurassic Coast is one of the world’s most famous fossil sites and is visited by millions of people each year. Historically a key locality for the development of palaeontology, the eroding coastline continues to provide new discoveries and offer inspiration to future generations of earth, ocean and climate scientists.

The geology of the Dorset and East Devon Coast provides an unparalleled opportunity to traverse the Mesozoic era. The exceptional fossil fauna and flora found here, which include vertebrates, invertebrates, plants and microfossils, ensures the Site’s continued recognition and representation among globally significant fossil assemblages.

The Jurassic Coast was inscribed as a World Heritage Site for its unique collection of globally important geological and palaeontological sites, many of which have contributed to our fundamental understanding of the earth sciences.

The Jurassic Coast boasts many internationally important palaeontological sites that span the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous. The near-continuous sequence of Mesozoic rocks hosts an exceptionally well-preserved fossil fauna, with many discoveries new to science.

An intriguing specimen of Promicroceras planicosta from Charmouth, Dorset. This individual had a major growth deformity on the body chamber that was likely caused by a worm growing on the ammonite shell.

Improving Access to the Extraordinary

Whilst the importance of the Site’s palaeontology is well established in published scientific literature, demonstrating its role within World Heritage presents certain challenges. More could be done to improve access to important fossils from the Jurassic Coast, and to better emphasise their unique role in the story of the World Heritage Site.

Of the specimens that fully illustrate the World Heritage Status of this coastline, some are stored or displayed locally, however many are to be found in national and international museums. In addition, there are many spectacular and important specimens held in private collections, which have an unquestionable, albeit unrealised, potential to inspire, given a suitable approach to research and public engagement.

A three-dimensional ichthyosaur skull expertly prepared by David Costin from Lyme Regis, Dorset. The early Jurassic mudrocks around Lyme Regis are famed for the quality and diversity of early marine reptiles that they yield - numerous species are unique to this stretch of the World Heritage Site.

Energising Research & Promoting Investment

The raw data compiled during the creation of the Jurassic Coast Collection will provide a new and important evidence base to energise research and scientific study along the World Heritage Site.

It will help identify priority areas for specimen acquisition, promoting further investment and support for the creation of new facilities that expand the collective capacity to conserve and curate the Site’s incredible fossil heritage, whilst encouraging public interest in and recognition of an excellent network of local museums and visitor centres.

A fantastic example of the ornate gastropod Pleurotomaria found at Burton Bradstock, Dorset.