Jurassic marine world discovered in a farmer's field in England

What else will they find?
Loukia Papadopoulos
One of the fossils found.University of Manchester
  • The fossils are roughly 183 million years old.
  • Their scales, fins, and even eyeballs are preserved.
  • Excavation continues on the site for more discoveries.

A farmer's field close to Gloucestershire, England, was recently discovered to hold hidden gems. Beneath a field grazed by an ancient breed of English Longhorn cattle, paleontologists Sally and Neville Hollingworth, both avid fossil collectors, unearthed roughly 183-million-year-old fossils. The specimens were described as stunningly well preserved, giving a glimpse into a time long, long ago.

The remains of many prehistoric marine animals

Now, the team of paleontologists has begun investigating the remains of the fish, ancient marine reptiles, squids, rare insects, and more contained within three-dimensionally preserved limestone concretions, according to a press release by the University of Manchester. Together, these finds all showcase a time when this part of the country was deep underwater.

The experts say they can easily spot excellent details of the prehistoric animals’ scales, fins, and even their eyeballs in the finds. There was even a three-dimensionally preserved fish head, belonging to a type of Jurassic fish called Pachycormus, that looks as if it is ‘leaping off the rock’ that it was contained in.

Jurassic marine world discovered in a farmer's field in England
The fossils were found near Gloucestershire.
fotoVoyager/iStock

“These fossils come from the Early Jurassic, specifically a time called the Toarcian. 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 – a prehistoric site of exceptional fossil preservation. 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,” said the Hollingworths in a statement.

The newly found site is located at Court Farm, Kings Stanley near Stroud, Gloucestershire.

A site that will inform science for a long time

Dr. Dean Lomax, a paleontologist and a visiting scientist at The University of Manchester, added that the new finds will inform science expeditions for a long time. “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. 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,” he stated.

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The scientists now hope to keep studying the area and 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. The researchers will focus on targeting students in areas where there is currently low STEM capital.

Meanwhile, the fossils are planned for display at Museum in the Park, Stroud, and at the Boho Bakery Café at Court Farm, Kings Stanley, Gloucestershire.

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