Fossil hunting in the Oxford clay

Over the last month we have mainly been fossil hunting in the Oxford clay formation. This is down to several factors, the main one being it’s on our doorstep! We have over the years found various fossils in the Oxford clay, despite this we have never really considered fossil hunting  seriously here. The last month has opened our eyes to this local and vastly rich hunting location, we are now fans!

Of the many fossils we have found in the Oxford clay over the last month below are some of our highlights:

Belemnites

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Belemnite in matrix

Belemnites are very easy to find in the Oxford clay and were squid like creatures from the Jurassic period. The part of the creature we find Fossilised  is the guard, this is bullet shaped and is believed to have acted as a counterweight. At the non pointed end of the fossil in the picture above is the phragmocone which is not commonly found due to its fragility, it’s purpose was to control the buoyancy of the Belemnite.

Ammonites

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Ammonite

Ammonites are again like Belemnites abundant and easy to find in the Oxford clay. However it is uncommon to find a full 3D Ammonite, they are normally not even a mm thick. This is down to the fossilisation process in the Oxford clay and the vast compression forces involved. If your fossil hunting target is an Ammonite, probably best to look elsewhere!

Vertebrate

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Above are two of our most recent vertebrae finds, the one on the left is from a Plesiosaur and the one on the right is from a Ichthyosaur, both were marine reptiles which swam the seas around this area around 165 million years ago!

Paddle digits ,Femur and Jaw

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Ichthyosaur Femur

In the picture above we have one of our most exciting recent finds, it is a Ichthyosaur femur.  You do not make finds like these that often, so when they do crop up it’s rather exciting! Below we found a section of (presumably) the same Ichthyosaur jaw, as you can see we have prepped it in its original matrix. The block it came from was huge and contained only this section. This is good indication that the Ichthyosaur was scavenged upon after death…..

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Ichthyosaur jaw bone 

Pictured below are two paddle digits which we believe to be from a Ichthyosaur also,  the paddles would have been made up of lots of these digits which were then attached to the humerus or femur.

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We have made many other finds too over the last month such as crocodile teeth and fish bones. However those are probably finds for another post…..

Happy hunting 🙂

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