Posts Tagged ‘fossils’


A drawing of Mary Anning's ichthyosaur, used to illustrate a paper by Everard Home in 1814


My 1969 Hamlyn guide to Prehistoric Animals

OK, I know that’s a ridiculous headline, as an ichthyosaur was a fish-like reptile with no legs, but I wanted to draw the comparison with the BBC’s Walking with Dinosaurs and its latest Planet Dinosaur

There are so many “new” prehistoric creatures these days and I can no longer keep up with all the names. My reference guide as a child in 1969 was Prehistoric Animals by Barry Cox and I could probably still identify 80% of the species illustrated, if I spotted them in the wild. That’s a Stegosaurus and an Ankylosaurus on the cover…

In Mary Anning’s time (21 May 1799 – 9 March 1847) things were even simpler – and it must have been so exciting, naming the first fossils found.

As of last month, I have now seen Mary Anning’s ichthyosaur fossil in the flesh (if you know what I mean) – but I am so kicking myself because I didn’t take a picture!

I hadn’t realised at the time that the ichthyosaur isn’t usually at Mary’s home-town museum in Lyme Regis, Dorset, but has been brought back from the Natural History Museum in London for a couple of months to celebrate the 200th anniversary of her find – on Mary Anning Day, September 24.


A portrait of Mary Anning with her dog Tray. A landslide from the blue lias cliffs killed Tray in 1833 - and almost killed Mary, too...

Mary Anning was (more…)

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The Cobb at Lyme Regis, Dorset


Meryl Streep - and the Cobb at Lyme Regis - feature on the cover of The French Lieutenant's Woman by John Fowles...

I recently visited Lyme Regis, right on the western edge of Dorset where it meets Devon, a county Lyme seems to gravitate towards, rather than looking back through masses of green countryside towards the east of its own county.

I went there hoping to look for fossils, thinking of my childhood heroine Mary Anning, but in September 2011 it’s the 200th anniversary of her ichthyosaur find, so I will leave it until later to blog more about her and about fossils.

Instead, I will look this time at the Cobb, a harbour wall that featured in Jane Austen’s Persuasion and more recently in John Fowles’ book The French Lieutenant’s Woman – it was made even more memorable by the image of Meryl Streep standing, windswept, on the said wall in the movie.

I bought an old (more…)

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New findings suggest big flying pterosaurs took off by pole-vaulting over their wings...

I have been meaning to muse on pterosaurs, the Archaeopteryx and the hoatzin for a long time, but suddenly the subject has become topical again.

Today’s papers have a story along the lines of “Dinosaur the size of a giraffe could fly across continents” – I have linked to the Daily Telegraph version, which is as good as any, apart from the fact that it means pterosaur (Greek for “wing-lizard”), NOT dinosaur (Greek for “terrible-lizard”).

The new findings suggest that (more…)

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