The Beast in the Cellar

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

Visitors to Lyme Regis Museum will have seen the cast of a huge ichthyosaur specimen on the wall of the Geology Gallery. According to the inscription, the original fossil was found east of Lyme Regis by Mr Henry Ellis, and donated by Mrs Luttill in 1927. So why isn’t the original on display in the Museum? Simply because it is too heavy! The original is hidden away in the cellar of the Museum.

Geologists Ben Brooks and Phil Davidson have recently carried out an extensive analysis of the Ichthyosaur, codenamed E42, which is stored in the cellar in 18 separate blocks. The specimen is approximately 4.2 metres in length, and is believed to be a member of the genus Temnodontosaurus, which flourished in the early Jurassic period between 198 and 185 million years ago. This fantastic fossil is one of the largest to be discovered on the Jurassic Coast, England’s only Natural World Heritage Site, and has long been one of the hidden treasures of Lyme Regis Museum. But it is hidden no longer – Ben and Phil have made a digital reconstruction of the fossil, an overview of which is seen below. If you click on the image, it will open up a much larger version which you can zoom and navigate and explore to your heart’s content.

Fig. 1.: Composite photograph of Lyme Regis Museum Ichthyosaur “E42”

Museum Director David Tucker said “we’re very grateful to Ben and Phil for the work they have done on this amazing fossil. We would love to be able to display the fossil in our museum, but unfortunately it is too big for our geology gallery. Putting these images on our website is the best way that we can make the ichthyosaur accessible to a wider audience.” Lyme Regis is the home of the science of palaeontology and the museum is built on the footprint of the house of Mary Anning, the first and greatest of all fossil collectors. The museum is in the early stages of a project to extend its premises. “We are the key fossil site in Britain” added David “and we want to make sure that this unique town has the museum it deserves as the key fossil-hunting site in Britain”.

In 2013 Ben Brooks gave a talk at the Museum about the beast. This is shown below:

A more detailed description of the ichthyosaur is available in our Research Papers section.