Fossilized fish from the Jurassic era discovered in an English cow field

The Pachycormus fossil. (Photo: Dr. Dean Lomax)

One would expect to find lots of cows, manure and hay on a dairy farm. However, British fossil hunters Neville and Sally Hollingworth have discovered something less expected: a fossilized fish 183 million years old. Not just any fossil, the pair had discovered a preserved specimen as if leaping, mouth agape, at the viewer. Researchers investigating this 3d find have since discovered a previously unknown Jurassic fossil bed, one of the most exceptional sites discovered in years.

The Hollingworths are known to find fossils, including mammoth skeletons. “It was a real surprise because when you find fossils, most of the time they have been flattened by pressure over time,” he added. Neville said. “But when we prepared this one, to reveal his bones bit by bit, it was amazing because we suddenly realized his skull wasn’t crushed.” The fierce fossil had emerged from an eroding piece of limestone on a dairy farm in the village of Kings Stanley, Gloucestershire, England.

The surprised farmer gave the couple and a team of researchers from the University of Manchester permission to dig on his property. The crew carefully dug more limestone nodules, opening them up to expose more marine fossils. Fish, squid, and the bones of two ichthyosaurs appeared. The latter were large dolphin-like reptiles that roamed the ancient seas. Some fish even retained soft tissue such as skin, giving the fossils a surprisingly realistic appearance. Fossilized wood and insects suggest that ancient waters were not far from land.

“We have the whole food chain”, paleontologist Dr. Dean Lomax, said. “So this Pachycormus would have eaten the smaller fish and squid. And then, the ichthyosaurs would have eaten the Pachycormus. Continuing, “These sites tell you that there are still many fossil discoveries of national and even international significance to be made in the UK.”

The Hollingworths compared the discovery to other historical finds. “The last comparable exhibit like this was the so-called Strawberry Bank Lagerstätte, Somerset, in the 1800s, which was built,” Sally said. “The Court Farm site allows scientists to do modern research with fresh material in situ.” Excavated fossils will be displayed locally for all to see.

British fossil hunters have discovered a Jurassic fish fossil on a cow farm.

Fossils discovered at the farm

The Gloucestershire farm where the fossil treasure was discovered. (Photo: Steve Dey)

Researchers were able to uncover one of the richest fossil deposits discovered in decades.

Jurassic Fossilized Fish

Another fossilized fish with soft tissue. (Photo: Dr. Dean Lomax)

Some of the marine fossils are even preserved with soft tissues such as skin and eyes.

Jurassic Fossilized Fish

A 3D digital model of the fossil. (Photo: Steven Day/Thinksee3D)

h/t: [IFL Science, BBC]

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