Fossil find a heavyweight challenge

By a County Press reporter

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

 

Fossil find a heavyweight challenge

Dinosaur Isle staff member Alex Peaker discovered this 110kg ammonite on an Isle of Wight beach. Picture courtesy of Isle of Wight Council/Dinosaur Isle.

AN ANCIENT fossil, weighing 110kg and discovered on an Isle of Wight beach by a Dinosaur Isle staff member, has been displayed at the Sandown museum.

The 100 million year old fossil was discovered near a Sandown cliff face by Alex Peaker.

It has been identified as Austiniceras austeni, part of a group of ammonites known as Parapuzosia, the largest ammonites in the world and the operation to shift the massive fossil presented a challenge to the council.

It first had to seek permission from the National Trust, as landowner, which has loaned the specimen to the museum.

A council spokesman said: "The fossil was part of a large block of rock weighing in at around two hundred kilos. Undeterred, it took three members of staff eight hours to remove enough of the surrounding rock to lift the ammonite."

Palaeontologist Martin New has worked on the ammonite since March to remove the surrounding rock and clean the fossil.

Community learning assistant Alex said: "I was walking past some debris that had recently fallen from the cliff on a fossil hunting walk when I spotted the round characteristic shape of an ammonite. At first I didn’t want to get my hopes up as shapes can be misleading, however I took a closer look and saw the distinctive lines of an ammonite shell.

He added: "It is lucky I spotted it when I did because it could have been washed away and lost to science.

"It just shows you never know when you may find something and it further reinforces the Isle of Wight's reputation as one of the world's best locations to find fossils."

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