Euan’s Blog – Cheshire’s jurassic heritage

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Huray Huray, exams are over and off to University at last!! Bonus: More free time for UKAFH. For all UKAFH members up here in the grimey ol’ north, where you feel cut off from all the great and spectacular fossil hunting locations of Southern England, let me assure you that between Birmingham and the southern borders of Scotland, there are an absolute plethora of fossil- brearing localities. Gotta be honest with you all, admittedly, the North of England – Excluding the Yorkshire Coast and Sunderland (Where an anomalous Ornithopod dinosaur vertebra was found in somebody’s garden (lucky sod)), is lacking thus far in those forever- favourites’ the Dinosaurs (I mean, you can’t go wrong with the Dinosaurs). The problem is one of Geology, rather than Paleontology. Dinosaur- bearing rocks that may have been deposited over the North of England have mostly been eroded away…… HOWEVER! I have some good news for any UKAFH members based in Cheshire or nearby counties. Many Geological maps depict an area of Lower Jurassic (Hettangian- Early Pleinsbachian stages) rocks around the Nantwich area. Mentioned in the BGS (British Geological Survey) research reports on the area (report No. RR/99/01, “A formational framework for the Lower Jurassic of England and Wales (Onshore area)), it states “Within the Cheshire Basin, around the Nantwich area, indicate Hettangian to Sinemurian succession is dominated by mudstones with thin limestones. Pleinsbachian rocks are dominated by sandy micaceous shales”. Although these beds are marine and to be fair, unlikely to wield Dinosaurs, its not impossible. During the Early Jurassic, Britain consisted of several large islands in a warm archiepelago occupying a position further to the south than it is now. One island lay broadly where Cornwall and Devon are now, another lay over the area of present- day London, Northern England and Scotland composed one of the larger islands, and Ireland (excluding the north of northern Ireland) was almost entirely an island. Britain’s Dinosaurs were likely island hoppers, with the same or similar forms being found on each of the islands. So, I hereby set a task for any UKAFH members, for someone to go and ‘scout- out’ this potential new fossil site for the group. There is said to be a small disused quarry and stream cutting of these Early Jurassic marine rocks (which are part of the Blue Lias formation) around the area of Coxbank. It is described as “Fossiliferous” by the BGS in their report, containing classic lower Jurassic ammonites and Gryphaea Bivalves. If this site can be tracked down, then it would be an awesome location for UKAFH to explore (but since Cheshire is my home turf, its a site that I could easily help lead. It’s the only known outcrop of Jurassic rocks in North- West England, and its unexplored status means there is potential for finds. Fingers crossed for marine reptiles! If anyone does decide to go a’ hunting for this new site, and they want more information on it, then just leave a comment on the blog and I’ll get right back to you. More soon with other potential new sites in Northern England for UKAFH to have a poke at. Chow for now, Euan

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