The Kimmeridge Clay is much more than a source rock

The Kimmeridge Clay is much more than a source rock

In Dorset, England, the Museum of Jurassic Marine Life exhibits the fossil riches of what many petroleum geologists know as the main North Sea source rock. But the museum needs help.

In Dorset, England, the Museum of Jurassic Marine Life exhibits the fossil riches of what many petroleum geologists know as the main North Sea source rock. But the museum needs help.

The Kimmeridgian world of the late Jurassic period was one of warm seas deep enough to be undisturbed by surface storms and shallow enough to be home to a teeming host of marine life.

From ancient fish, squid, coiled ammonites, sea urchins and turtles to long necked reptiles like the Plesiosaur, the dolphin-like Ichthyosaur and, at the apex of the food chain, the ferocious Pliosaur.

Steve Etches, a plumber by trade, began collecting fossils from the Kimmeridge Clay over 35 years ago.  Completely self-taught, what began as a hobby has now resulted in a collection of over 2400 fossils all from the Kimmeridge Clay.

Once housed in a converted garage at his home in the village, the best specimens – all collected within 2 miles of where the museum is located – are now on display in an amazing museum.

This well-preserved Ichtyosaur is one one the many highlights of the museum.

The museum gives a depiction of what life was like 157 million years ago at Kimmeridge. Some of the fascinating fossil specimens are now extinct, but others, like the sharks, rays, squids and fish have evolved and you can find their present-day relatives still swimming in our seas today.

The museum gives the visitor a chance to step back in time but to also understand the links of how life in the Jurassic intrinsically connects to life on earth in the present day.

The museum needs your help

Due to the recent lock down, the museum – which operates as a Trust – has missed out on a large part of its income and there is a risk that it needs to close its doors. Therefore, it has launched a campaign for people to make a donation. This museum should keep its doors open to educate the public on how life and environments have changed through time.

HENK KOMBRINK

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