Here be dinosaurs! The geology gallery of Lyme Regis Museum contains a wealth of fossils and tells of the early pioneering palaeontologists who worked at this Dorset town on what is now the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site. You can also learn about the great landslip of 1839 and link to all our fossil-related resources.
For thousands of years the Lyme cliffs have crumbled and fallen, revealing great numbers of fossils which have been washed out of the crumbling rock by the sea. In the days before palaeontology, people picked up these oddly shaped ‘stones’, seeing them as curiosities of nature, but until the early 19th century there was no scientific interest or understanding.
Lyme Regis was a centre for early pioneering palaeontologists, including Mary Anning, Henry de la Beche, William Buckland and William Conybeare. See Mary Anning and the men of science.
The ‘Lias’ rock at Lyme was being quarried from the sea ledges in the early 19th century, mostly for making cement which would set underwater. This exposed large areas for fossil hunting.
George Roberts wrote in his Dictionary of Geology (1839) under the entry for Plesiosaurs:
“The great depository is Lyme Regis: the reason is, that a greater extent of Lias is there acted upon by the tide, and men, who break up the ledges; and so enable Miss Anning to perambulate a fruitful superficial extent of three miles long by one eighth of a mile broad.”
Landslips and landscape
Fossils of Lyme Regis
Fossils as you see them on the beach
Fossils as living creatures
The Jurassic Coast Fossil Database
Cement making - Industrial Lyme
Buckland's coprolite table
Fatally bitten ammonites
The Fossil Hunter
The BBC Slideshow about Mary Anning
Gigapan panorama of the Geology Gallery (link to external site)