Treasure Trove of Jurassic Fossils Discovered in England

by johnsmith

Paleontologists have unearthed the fossilized remains of ancient fish, marine reptiles, squids, rare insects and more in a farmer’s field in Gloucestershire, England.

The 183-million-year-old fossilized skull of Pachycormus. Image credit: Dean Lomax.

The 183-million-year-old fossilized skull of Pachycormus. Image credit: Dean Lomax.

“The site is quite remarkable, with numerous beautifully preserved fossils of ancient animals that once lived in a Jurassic sea that covered this part of the UK during the Jurassic,” said Dr. Dean Lomax, a paleontologist at the University of Manchester.

“Inland locations with fossils like this are rare in the UK. The fossils we have collected will surely form the basis of research projects for years to come.”

The newly-discovered paleontological site, which is located at Court Farm, Kings Stanley near Stroud, Gloucestershire, was discovered by fossil collectors Sally and Neville Hollingworth.

The fossils are approximately 183 million years old, corresponding to the Toarcian age of the Jurassic period.

“These fossils come from the Early Jurassic,” said Sally and Neville Hollingworth.

“The clay layers exposed at this site near Stroud have yielded a significant number of well-preserved marine vertebrate fossils that are comparable to the famous and exquisitely preserved similar fauna of the Strawberry Bank Lagerstätte from Ilminster, Somerset.”

“Excavations at Kings Stanley over the last week have revealed a rich source of fossil material, particularly from a rare layer of rock that has not been exposed since the late 19th century.”

“I’m delighted that after the initial work that Sally and Nev did over three years ago we now have a full-scale dig on the farm,” said landowner Adam Knight.

Among the best finds were several fossil fish with excellent details of their scales, fins and even their eyeballs.

One of the most impressive discoveries was a 3D preserved fish head, belonging to Pachycormus, a species of pachycormiform ray-finned fish known from the Early Jurassic of Europe. The fish looks as if it is ‘leaping off the rock’ that it was contained inside.

“Using the latest fossil preparation and imaging techniques to understand this unique fauna in more detail will create a rich repository,” said Neville Hollingworth.

“Also, we will leave a permanent reference section after excavations have concluded.”

“Given the location and enthusiasm from the landowner and local community to be involved it is hoped to plan and develop a local STEM enrichment program as there will be opportunities for community groups and local schools to be involved in the research, particularly from the Stroud area with a focus of targeting audiences in areas of low STEM capital.”

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