Hello to all avid UKAFH members. My name is Euan, and this is my blog. I would like to thank Craig Chapman and all other UKAFH leaders for the opportunity of starting up this blog, and I will be doing regular updates once- to twice a week. The aim here is to provide fun fossil facts and interesting tid- bits of information to all UKAFH members, regardless of age or fossil experience. I will be posting regular articles, of which members can read as many or as few as they like. And considering the upcoming UKAFH visit to Cambridgeshire’s Oxford Clay Yaxley and Kings Dyke, I will
be posting some (hopefully) useful tips to finding some impressive specimens very soon.
However, today, let’s just start with a summary about fossils- and what incredible things they are.
Fossils have fascinated human beings for millenia, and because people could not originally explain their existence, what they were, how they were made, or where they came from, they invented many myths and a lot of folklore and heresay to explain them; Belemnites (the rostra of squid- like animals) were thought to be darts from heaven, flung down by gods during lightning storms, and Ammonite shells were believed to be snakes turned to stone by St Hilda (which is why one ammonite is named Hildoceras). Chalk Echinoderms were thought to be cakes made by Fairies or Sprites.They were thought to have medicinal powers. Belemnites, for example, were thought to be able to treat Rheumatism, sore eyes, and as a cure for a Horse’s intestine stones. Also, in an age when the church held sway, many fossil animals were thought of as having been killed in Noah’s Biblical flood. So, its clear, that fossils have intrigued us for a very long time. Today, fossils are at the fore- front of modern science, for by looking at the past, we can predict future events, such as climate change. UKAFH itself could easily become a very valuable scientific resource, particularly because of our members’ enthusiasm, and also because the major fossil discoveries are mostly found by people like our members, and like you, and not bey scientists. For example, Charnia, a mysterious Pre- Cambrian organism, was discovered in Charnwood forest by schoolboy Roger Mason, and the ‘horned Scelidosaur’ of Charmouth, and armoured early Thyreophoran dinosaur was discovered by an accomplished amateur collector called David sole.
You rarely forget that feeling you get when you find your very first fossil. The knowledge that nobody else has ever laid eyes on that fossil before you is exhilarating. Even if it something as seemingly ‘dull’ as a small fossil shell, the mere fact that what you have found could be over 300 million years old, is pretty mind- blowing. Just stop and step back to think about that for a second. There are 24 hours in a day, and 365 days per year, and 3650 days in a decade. But just imagine how many days are in a million years- probably in the hundreds of thousands. Then imagine timesing that enormous number by 300- Its an almost inconcievable amount of time, even for people used to dealing with geologic time. Also, although your fossil is lithified (turned to stone), it was once a living, breathing, thinking, creature – much like you.
But, do you know what I think is the most amazing thing about fossils and fossil hunting? besides its being fun, Its that you never know what you might find, or what’s out there just wanting to be found. You could find a cool new prehistoric critter all of your own- and perhaps it will be named after you. That’s immortality of a sort. That kind of animal will always bear your name, and you will be remembered by science. So, keep on fossil hunting members cos you don’t know whats in the next rock you turn over.