Thursday, 07 July 2022

We found 6in fossil in river from 95 million years ago

We found 6in fossil in river from 95 million years ago

A FAMILY from Sonning Common found a 6in fossil on the banks of the River Thames.

Matt and Kat Young and their children Lucas, four, and nine-year-old Lily-May, were walking their dog Archie in Wallingford on Easter Monday when they discovered the ammonite.

Mr Young, 42, and Lucas were in their wellington boots playing at the water’s edge when Lucas came across what appeared to be a large heavy rock.

When they turned it over, there was the ammonite shape embedded in rock-hard clay from the river bed.

Mrs Young, 39, and Lily-May had walked ahead with Archie when they heard Lucas shout, “Treasure!”

Mr Young said: “He just wanted to show Lily. He knew she’d be excited by it.”

Mrs Young said: “Lily was a bit disappointed that she wasn’t the one who found it but she was amazed by it. She even took it into school. It’s so heavy but she still put it in her backpack.”

Lily-May said: “Archie’s not really interested in fossils, just trains. I couldn’t believe it. It’s not every day you find a fossil in the River Thames.”

She said her friends and teacher at Sonning Common Primary School were very impressed by it.

Last year, after she learned about fossils at school and showed a real interest in them, the family made a trip to Lyme Regis to look for some.

Mrs Young said: “We didn’t find anything quite like this.

“We only found really small ammonites. We took pictures of Lily next to bigger ones but they were encased in massive rocks that had already been found and were on display.

“We also went to all the fossil museums down there and then a few months later we find one not far from home.”

Ammonites were cephalopods with coil-like shells that died out about 66 million years ago. Fossils of them are found around the world.

The Youngs, who run Land Rover specialists 4x4Matt in Cane End, have not attempted to remove the ammonite fossil from the clay as they do not want to spoil it. Mrs Young said: “We did think we could chip away at some of it but then we didn’t want to damage the shape because if it did split it would be a shame.”

Instead they are keeping the fossil wrapped in a towel until they have decided what to do with it.

Professor Richard Fortey, a palaeontologist from Henley, said: “What a nice specimen.

“It could be local because it looks to me like one called Schloenbachia from the lower part of the chalk, which forms the Sinodun Hills nearby.

“It is Cretaceous in age from a time when the dinosaurs were still in charge on land 95 million years ago.

“The intriguing thing is that it looks like a specimen that has been collected out of the rock by breakage deliberately — and then consigned to the water.

“Who would collect it and throw it away?”

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