Eye-popping fossil fish found in cattle field: A strange new Jurassic excavation site can be found just outside of Stroud in Gloucestershire, and it has yielded the fossil of a fish that appears to have been fierce.
The animal, which is called Pachycormus and is similar to a tuna, has been preserved exceptionally well in all three dimensions.
The appearance of large eyes and teeth creates the sense that it is getting ready to launch an assault.
Neville and Sally Hollingworth, two of the most accomplished fossil-hunters in the West Country, were able to determine the specimen’s identity.
According to Neville said in an interview with BBC News, “It was a great surprise because, when you uncover fossils, most of the time they’ve been squashed flat via pressure over the course of time.”
“When we prepared this one, however, to uncover its bones piece by bit, it was incredible because we suddenly saw that its head had not been crushed in any way.
“Its mouth is wide open, and it appears to be emerging from the rock in an attempt to attack you.”
In the community of Kings Stanley, the couple discovered the fish head in the grassy bank that was located behind a cow shed.
It had been protected from the elements by being contained in one of the numerous limestone nodules that were dislodging themselves from a clay layer that was exposed.
The landowner, Adam Knight, was unaware that his English longhorn cattle were grazing on top of a rich fossil seam. This seam was a remnant of a time, 183 million years in the past when his farm would have been lying under warm tropical ocean waters. Adam Knight had no idea that his cattle were grazing on top of this fossil seam.
Neville and Sally, along with a team led by the University of Manchester, were granted permission by Mr. Knight to conduct additional research on the bank.
A digger was sent in to remove hundreds more of the nodules, and once they were removed, they were painstakingly broken up to examine what was contained within them.
The haul consisted of further fish, squids, and even the skeletons of two ichthyosaurs. Ichthyosaurs were extremely successful aquatic reptiles that resembled a giant dolphins in appearance.
A paleontologist by the name of Dean Lomax from Manchester stated, “We’ve got the full food chain.”
“Therefore, this Pachycormus would have been feeding on squids and fish of a lower size.
The ichthyosaurs, at that point, would have been feeding on the pachycorms.
Intriguingly for a maritime environment, the clay layer also contains fossilized wood and insects, which provides evidence that land was not too far away at the time.
The discoveries will most certainly keep scientists occupied for a considerable amount of time over the coming years.
Because the specimens were taken from a unique example of a time slice from the early Jurassic that was found in the United Kingdom (the Toarcian Stage), there is a particular interest in them.
It has a reputation for extraordinary preservation, even of soft tissues, and the group has a fish, for instance, in which it is possible to see the contents of the stomach.
Sally explained that the last time there was an exposure equivalent to this one was in the 1800s in Somerset at a place known as the Strawberry Bank Lagerstatte, which was eventually covered up by construction.
“Scientists are able to conduct cutting-edge research at the Court Farm site using material that is both fresh and in-situ.”
The amazing ability of the Hollingworth’s to pinpoint areas rich in fossil deposits has earned them widespread renown.
They made a recent discovery at the neighboring Cotswold Water Park, which was highlighted in a BBC documentary hosted by Sir David Attenborough. The discovery involved the remains of mammoths.
The discovery of thousands of fossilized echinoderms, such as starfish, sea urchins, and brittle stars, in a quarry in the northern part of the county also garnered a lot of media attention for them.
According to what Dr. Lomax had to say, “These locations tell you there are still a great many nationally and indeed internationally significant fossil discoveries yet to be made in the UK.”
In the month of October, there will be an attempt to put on a public show of the fossils at the Boho Bakery Café, which is located very close to Court Farm.