The intrepid clams continue on their travels and journeys of discovery:
Well fellow shell lovers, something slightly different for a change! So far we’ve been looking at live shells or shellfish, with the odd trip to the sea side for an ice cream or two. But this time we’ve been on a trip looking for fossilised shells. Dr Mel, when she’s not working, does have the odd hobby, one of which is (not very successful) fossil hunting. So, we were allowed to go on her latest trip to Walton-on-the-Naze, which is by the seaside in Essex. The cliffs just along the beach at Walton-on-the-Naze are a mix of London Clay, which was formed around 50 million years ago (or the Eocene, to those in the know). At this time, Britain had a sub-tropical climate, so there was the really exciting possibility of finding 50 million year old sharks’ teeth!
On top of the clay is a sandy layer called Red Crag. This is much younger at only 3 million years old (the very end of the Pliocene) and was a time when the seas were full of lots of shellfish. To be honest Dr Mel is not so good on geology (if at all), so probably best just to read the description from the absolutely brilliant UK fossil web site (also available as an App):
We arrived at Walton-on-the Naze, just at the same time as low tide, which apparently is the best time to look for sharks teeth. So fortified with tea and a bun, we went off on our hunt (the “we” being Professor Lloyd, Dr Alistair and Dr Liz (Drs A and L are the real experts)). We were very lucky, it was a nice sunny day, so here are a couple of pictures of us on the beach with a fossil shell (Glycymerus glycymerus) and sitting on a branch with lots of fossilised wood around us (they look like black thin long pebbles).
We found quite a few different types of shell (including Neptunia contraria and Natica multipunctata, along with lots of Glycymerus glycymerus) and lots of fossilised wood. Here is a picture of us in Dr Mel’s back garden with all our finds on a tray.
These are now proudly on display around her house! We found 4 small pieces of shark’s teeth which you can see Clemmy proudly showing off in this picture. To be really honest, it was Dr Liz that found most of them, proving what a sharp-eyed expert she is, BUT, Dr Mel found the broken one at the very right of the picture and went home very happy, determined to visit again and find bigger sharks teeth next time!