COLLECTIONS & RESEARCH

Ichthyosaur Tooth

Table of Contents

  1. An Overlooked Plesiosaur
  2. Ichthyosaur tooth
  3. A Wonderful Example of a Fossil Fish
  4. Brother and Sister Find Sea-Dragon in Cliffs
  5. Lower Jurassic Leaf
  6. Plesiosaur Vertebrae
  7. Small Ichthyosaur from Blue Lias Ledges
  8. Dapedium from Lang’s Fish Beds Found in May 2008 Landslip
  9. The Beast in the Cellar

Museum Education Officer, Chris Andrew found an Ichthyosaur tooth on Monmouth beach.  Not the most spectacular find ever but it is uncommon to find a nice size tooth in good condition.  The photographs show it as it appeared in the rock and after cleaning.

It comes from the Blue Lias, the oldest of the Jurassic rocks around Lyme.  It is the Blue Lias that was quarried for limestone for building and cement, this industry must have revealed many fossils, including ichthyosaur bones (see Industrial Lyme).  This is especially true in Mary Anning’s time when all the work would have been done by hand.  Ichthyosaurs were constantly replacing worn teeth, so one ichthyosaur would produce alot of teeth during its life.  unfortunately teeth are brittle, so a tooth that erodes from the shales is soon broken up among the pebbles on the beach.

This tooth has all of the root attached so it is not a shed tooth.  When ichthyosaurs shed teeth they reabsorb the root so they do not waste valuable minerals.  As this tooth has a root it is from a dead animal.  As this tooth is large it is probably from a Temnodontosaurus, one of the larger types of ichthyosaur.  Unfortunately there was no signs of other bones in the rock around it.  It might have fallen from a carcass that was floating in the sea as a result of it swelling with decomposition gases (bloat & float as the local collectors put it!).  In this case the rest of the skeleton could have drifted miles away, it might already have been found by a Victorian gentleman collector or it could still be in the cliff awaiting discovery.

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