The Jurassic Coast Big Five campaign gave the public the chance to vote for their favourite prehistoric creatures, from a selection chosen by the Jurassic Coast Trust team to represent the most significant and recognisable fossil groups found along the length of the Jurassic Coast.


Voting for the Big Five has now closed in all categories.

Congratulations to Julie Brinkley, the winner of our fossil prize.



The vote consisted of five different categories of creatures, (plus a bonus ‘wildcard’ category) that range from the critters crawling around on the seafloor to the lumbering herbivorous dinosaurs that roamed the land. The most popular vote-getters from each category have now gone forward as the Jurassic Coast ‘Big Five’!

The ‘Big Five’ campaign is the foundation for an exciting series of outreach and engagement events that we are working on behind the scenes as part of the Jurassic Coast Collection – so stay tuned.

Everyone who voted at any point throughout the campaign went in the running to win the spectacular fossilised seabed shown below. This 170 million year-old fossil was generously donated to the Trust by David Sole, and prepared by Lizzie Hingley.

big five competition prize seabed fossilThe Jurassic Coast Big Five campaign is an exciting opportunity to reframe the story of palaeontology on the coast by expanding on the ‘Walk Through Time’. We hope to celebrate the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site in its entirety by connecting individual fossil sites whilst enabling people to engage with some amazing fossils at the same time.

Palaeontology is unique in the way it allows us to understand creatures that have been extinct for millions of years through the fossils we find. This campaign asks, ‘If the fossil record of the Jurassic Coast were a safari, what would you be most excited to see?

Our team concluded that in a public vote it was unlikely the humble bivalve could ever compete against gigantic monsters like the Weymouth Bay Pliosaur, but by concentrating on ecological niches, we can tell some really interesting stories and shine a spotlight on fossils that we rarely get to talk about.


The most fascinating discoveries from the Jurassic Coast are not always the fossils of monstrous creatures. A wonderful array of organisms have evolved over time that we may have never encountered. Some can only be seen with a microscope and others look like rocks!

This group of fossils tell us an extraordinary amount about the environment and climate of the past.

JC trace fossils 1 - for website
Trace fossils sketch. © Mark Witton

Marine Primary Consumers

The seafloor was bustling with life throughout the Mesozoic. An abundant and diverse community of marine critters crawled over the soft sand looking for food.

Many have remained unchanged for millions of years and resemble animals we find in modern seas. The creatures living at the bottom of the sea would have made an easy snack for predators.

Pleurotomaria JC 1 - for website
Pleurotomaria, a type of gastropod. © Mark Witton

Marine Secondary Consumers

A wonderful array of animals swam in the rivers and seas of the Jurassic Coast during the Mesozoic. Some of these creatures were agile predators, often catching and eating other members of this group.

However, all of them were prey for the larger, fearsome marine reptiles!

Dapedium - for website
Dapedium, a type of fish. © Mark Witton.

Terrestrial Herbivores

The forests, deserts and lagoons of the Jurassic Coast were home to an amazing array of vegetarians! Herbivorous creatures come in all shapes and sizes from tiny insects to massive lumbering dinosaurs.

These creatures employed a host of different defensive strategies to protect themselves from predators. Unfortunately, it did not always work!

Mantellisaurus JC 1
Mantellisaurus sketch. © Mark Witton

Terrestrial Predators

In every part of the Mesozoic ferocious carnivores roamed the land searching for their next meal. These creatures had evolved to hunt and kill.

Powerful muscles and rows of sharp, serrated teeth were perfect for overpowering prey. The Jurassic Coast would have been a scary place to visit – that is for sure!

Dimorphodon pterosaur
Sketch of Dimorphodon, a type of pterosaur. © Mark Witton.

Marine Predators

The most amazing animals inhabited the sea during the Mesozoic Era. These monsters of the deep were the stuff of legends (and nightmares)!

Fearsome predators used speed and agility to snatch their prey from tropical blue waters. Rows of sharp teeth were perfectly designed to rip and tear flesh.

Ichthyosaur Temnodontosaurus Mark Witton
Ichthyosaur - Temnodontosaurus sketch. © Mark Witton