Wondering where is the best place to see or hunt for fossils on the Jurassic Coast?
The rock cliffs at Charmouth and Lyme Regis contain thousands of fossils of animals that swam in the Jurassic seas. The remains that have been found along the Dorset coast since the eighteenth century represent one of the richest slices of life in Jurassic times anywhere in the world!
The best time to find fossils on the beaches is after a winter storm. This part of the Jurassic coastline erodes rapidly, resulting in fossils falling from landslides in the surrounding cliffs onto the beaches.
The Museum of Jurassic Marine Life at Kimmeridge is home to some world firsts and the fossils on display were all collected along the local coastline by renowned fossil collector, Dr Steve Etches MBE. If you happen to find a fossil down on the beach, why not take it up to the museum to see if it can be identified?
You can also see Dorset fossils exhibited at Dorset Museum, including the famous Weymouth Bay pliosaur.
And if you want the real Jurassic experience, you can literally walk in the footsteps of dinosaurs at Spyway Dinosaur Footprints near Swanage, where more than 100 fossilised tracks are preserved in a flat layer of rock.
One of the best and safest ways to hunt for fossils is to join a guided walk.
Visit the Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre or Lyme Regis Museum and join a fossil hunting walk and journey through time.
Lyme Regis Museum also run their own fossil walks along Lyme Regis beach which is where the famous fossil collector Mary Anning found the first correctly identified ichthyosaur skeleton and the first two nearly complete plesiosaur skeletons. The museum is located where she used to live and sell her fossils from.
Dr Steve Etches M.B.E runs guided bay tours between September and April at Kimmeridge starting at the Museum of Jurassic Marine Life - which is also home to Steve's own fossil collection, all found within the local area.
Fossils are eroded from the cliffs of the World Heritage Site and tumble onto the beaches where we can find them. But not every beach is safe, and not all fossils should be collected.
Always follow the Fossil Hunting Code before setting out on your expedition.
It's very important that you also consult tide tables before collecting fossils; it is advisable that you hunt for fossils on a falling tide.
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