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Local Man Unearths an Ancient Monster

Since popularised by Mary Anning in the nineteenth century, fossil hunting (paleontology) has remained a hobby for locals and visitors on Dorset's Jurassic Coast. Tourists from all over the globe also have long since been coming to Lyme Regis, Charmouth, and their surrounding beaches searching for the fascinating treasures they can yield: ammonites, trilobites, and their more exotic cousins. It is only recently however, after a find made by local fossil enthusiast Philip Jacobs in April 2022, that fossil hunting in this location has received such a high level of global attention…

 

The Kimmeridge Monster

 

Walking along the beach at Kimmeridge Bay, Jacobs found the fossilised snout of a Pliosaur on the beach. He immediately realised that it was possibly part of a more significant and larger find. Reputedly the largest and most aggressive of all aquatic dinosaurs, the rest of this ten metre long monster's fossilised remains lay embedded in the cliff face above. After cross referencing with a drone survey of the towering cliff face, a probable location was identified...

 

Dramatically and compellingly featured by David Attenborough on a New Year’s Day broadcast by the BBC, Attenborough and the Giant Sea Monster, excavations into the sheer cliff face (led by Jacob’s friend and fossil museum owner Steve Etches), began that summer, resulting in the recovery of the rest of the two metre long head. In the documentary, Attenborough reveals that the Pliosaur had a bite strength equivalent to two times that of a Great White shark: in other words… the most powerful bite ever recorded.

 

Museum Visitors ‘Saur’!

 

Fast forward to the present, and this month the Pliosaur head was exhibited at the Etches Collection in Kimmeridge - an impressive collection of nearly 3,000 resulting in a dramatic increase in museum visits. By 11 January, the Kimmeredge had already received 4,868 visitors, almost 10 times their usual number for the whole of January. The museum's operations manager, Carla Crook, said of the influx: "The majority are local, but there are lots of people who are coming from much further afield. We've even had some people visit from Australia.”

 

And it will be a race against time to extract the rest of the monster from the cliff face, with Steve and his team intent on retrieving as much of the Kimmeridge monster as possible before it’s destroyed by the process of natural erosion...


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