Fossil Hunt at Isle of Sheppey, 12th Nov 2017

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On Sunday 12th November UKAFH met in Warden, a small town on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent for the last UKAFH fossil hunt of the year.

Along the East coast of Sheppey is the largest exposure of London clay in the UK stretching over 6km from Warden to Minster on Sea. The London clay is a marine deposit roughly 52 million years old at this location, of the Eocene epoch. The fine sediment was deposited in a fairly deep, warm and placid sea which was relatively close to land – evident in the abundance of wood and plant remains and occasional but rarely terrestrial birds, mammals and reptiles.

After a fantastic explanation of the local geology and palaeontology by Sam Caethoven and a show and tell of some exceptional specimens by Eliott Mills, we were off in search of fossils!

We were bombarded by a strong, bitterly cold arctic wind but fortunately it was not long before we made some great finds. Lucy was first off the mark with a beautiful shark vertebra, found just a few hundred yards from the carpark. Gastropods, bivalves, nipa fruit and shark teeth were all found within a short time on the beach. We soon headed further north along the beach, staying clear of the tall clay cliffs which are particularly dangerous at the moment as large clay blocks are falling frequently – The site is prone to extreme erosion, most evident by the world war two pill boxes which once sat atop the cliffs but are now haphazardly strewn on the beach in front of us. Beyond the pill boxes, the great finds just kept coming. Numerous crab specimens in phosphatic nodules were collected, some of which were exquisitely well preserved. Shark teeth, ray teeth and fish vertebra were also abundant. Eliott Mills made the exceptionally rare discovery of a leaf preserved in clay.

The relentless biting winds made hunting tough, but we endured and were rewarded for our hardy nature. Thank you to everyone who attended, it was a great day and I hope you all thoroughly enjoyed yourselves!

See you all again in the New Year!!

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