Histourism: Fossil hunting in Penarth

In addition to being a very picturesque seaside town, Penarth, just south from Cardiff, is one of the best places in Wales to find fossils. They wash up by the bucket load! Just a few years back, the first dinosaur ever to have been found on Welsh soil, was found near here, a 200 million-year old Jurassic carnivore named Dracoraptor hanigani.

When I was there this afternoon, even my completely untrained eye could see that the rocks on the beach were out of the ordinary. Many of them were dappled with the remains of seashells, plants, and tiny creatures; others very clearly bore the imprints of stone being compressed during geological processes. I was not expecting to find anything major at all, so I invoked the spirit of Mary Anning, patron saint of fossil hunting, and pretty soon I made a fantastic discovery: an ammonite imprint, small enough for me to take home! I saw a few more and bigger ones after that, and found a couple of other beauties that I couldn’t classify. If I lived in the south of England or Wales it would be worth it to invest in a good fossil catalogue, but the closest one can come to fossil hunting in The Netherlands is at the reshaped part of the coast near Rotterdam, the Tweede Maasvlakte; when I went fossil hunting there with my brother and my mother, we found some unidentifiable animal bones from the Pleistocene period (around 2.5 million – 11,000 years ago). It was amazing to me that these ancient things just wash up on the shore here and are so common that they are mingled (sadly) with the empty beer cans and soda bottles of everyday visitors.

I found Penarth a lovely town to photograph, and took the opportunity to experiment more with black and white photography–not that it made a great difference on such a grey day!


View all photos in better quality on my Flickr!

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