Dorset, as many have observed, is one huge fossil graveyard. Last Xmas (2005) we went on an excellent organised fossil hunt from the centre at Ferrybridge. We were led off to the north side of the Fleet and rooted round in the mud for an hour. We found plenty of prehistoric bric-a-brac, but the find of the trip was an Ichthyosaurus vertebra. When challenged, the leader denied that it had been in her pocket all along and explained that she knew there was an Ichthyosaurus down there somewhere as bits appear regularly, so she was looking for just this.
Like birdwatching or any similar activity, there appear to be two keys to successful fossil hunting; firstly learn from someone who knows their stuff (achieved in the trip), and secondly get a good guide book. After the trip I got “British Mesozoic Fossils” (Nat. History Museum, ISBN 1-898298-73-4) which is excellent.
Anyway, we have been hunting along the Fleet on a couple of occasions since. In future posts I’ll show some of what we’ve found. Don’t go getting all excited now – no Ichthyosaurus skeletons coming up.