Monday, 6 September 2010
Marine Reptile Teeth From the Oxford Clay
A couple of days ago, I met up with Cliff and Carl and a small group from the University of Leicester for a field visit to Quarry 4. This was a bonus trip for me since we were originally planning to visit a few weeks ago but, due to various reasons and commitments, the trip couldn’t take place. When this opportunity arose, I was hardly going to miss it.
As mentioned previously, Quarry 4 is now not being worked and you are relying on rainy conditions to wash any new material out of the clay and reveal any new material in situ. A week previous to this visit there had been substantial rainfall, somewhere in the region of two inches had come down, and we were hopeful of finding a few bits and pieces. As usual there were some nice pieces recovered.
These included a few plesiosaur teeth, all Cryptoclidus, a Metriorhynchus tooth, a couple of Hypsocormus fish jaws complete with the caniniform teeth in the anterior part of the dentary, small fish vertebrae including a string of eight in articulation and a big bunch of lepidotid scales weathering through the surface of the clay. There were other pieces recovered including some interesting fish coprolites (complete with inclusions), a small marine reptile caudal vertebra and a few interesting bivalves.
There were also a few processes from crocodile vertebrae that turned up in one spoil heap. This pile of spoil keeps throwing bits of crocodile up and is gradually being worn away by both human activity and erosion and is likely to throw up a few more pieces yet. This spoil heap was obviously dragged or pushed from another part of the quarry that isn’t too far away and Cliff feels sure that the rest of this croc is waiting to be found.
As for me, I was lucky to find the above pictured pliosaur tooth which is in superb condition. It appears to be Peloneustes but I should be able to confirm that shortly once the tooth is cleaned and I can have a good look at the striations. I was also very fortunate to find a superb fully rooted Metriorhynchus tooth which is unfortunately missing the tip but this is still an excellent specimen and I was very lucky to find it.
Quarry 4 is still earmarked for flooding this November, so time here now is very limited. There is another group from the SVPCA meeting that is being held in Cambridge this month going in on September 18th. We will definitely be going in during October which will almost certainly be the last trip assuming that the flooding of the quarry will take place, as advertised, during November. We will see.
But, at last, there is some positive news on gaining access to Quarry 5 and it looks we will finally be approved for access in the New Year. I can hardly wait since this will be virginal clay with no backfill which is really going to help prospecting. I’m keeping everything crossed and not counting my dinosaurs just yet!!!