Friday, 23 December 2011

Prehistoric Mud Pie

excavating a fossil belemnite on the jurassic coast dorset
Post #500!
Actually got up early to get to the coast for low tide. For some time now I have wanted to go fossil hunting or perform my own archaeological dig: 2 things I mix up. We had identified 'Golden Cap' as a good place for my first expedition and I was ready with my commando jacket and boots. Seatown, on west Dorset's Jurassic coast, is a tiny place down a single track lane. The population soars in the summer months when the caravan park reopens or when clifftop walkers hike through. It suggests you don't visit in the winter or take kids, so I didn't take any kids and we pretended it was summer. But today we were the only car in the car park. We loaded up and set off along the beach. We were the only people on the beach. The foggy misty rain we'd driven through magically cleared for us, as arranged.
It was quite a long way but as the cliff gradually increased in height we started to see things in the wall of mud. I used my special fossil-hunting hammer to retrieve the first which was a belemnite - a pointy shell thing we called pocket rockets. On the shore we found or dug out many more of these and fragments of ammonites. Loads of them have been turned into nodules of iron pyrites so groovy but heavy for Bud's magic bag and the 2 ice cream tubs acting as booty chests.
eype clay and green ammonite cliffs, jurassic coast dorsetAfter a couple of hours we made our way back over the muddy cliff landslips as we didn't want to be cut off by the tide. The grillion year-old mud was very thick, glutinous and sucky and we both fell over. I went down a few times and got liberally daubed in 180 million years of gucky gloop so as you can see in the picture, I gradually became as one with the cliff and you can only see my face, which was only lightly silted. The trudge back along the gravelly foreshore was lengthy and onerous and I moobled and rimbled all the way back saying I never wanted to go fossil hunting again, but really I had a great time and it was only the superhuman effort of walking over 1/2 a mile of gravel in boots that had tripled in weight due to sticky mud, and the force 95 gale. We washed repeatedly in the public toilets but we just knew that during the car-picnic we'd planned for the return journey we'd get our recommended daily allowance of vitamin fossil-mud.
fossil collection ammonites, belemnites and crinoids jurassic coast
After a couple of hours warming up in the car we got home, and, once the bags had been emptied, we cleaned up our petrified prizes for Jof to wonder at. OK so we'll win no prizes, all the belemnites are broken, but it's my first go and we got loads. Perhaps one day I could be a fossil salesman - it's gotta be worth a trilobite.

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