Fossil hunting tips for those set to discover coast’s secrets

Baryonyx dinosaur tooth
Baryonyx dinosaur tooth

Jamie Hiscocks is a fossil hunter.

More than a decade ago, he discovered a fossil on a Bexhill beach, which was confirmed as a ‘pickled’ dinosaur brain in 2016.

Bone bed Lepidotes teeth

Bone bed Lepidotes teeth

The unassuming brown pebble Jamie found is the first example of fossilised brain tissue from a dinosaur, that lived 133 million years ago during the Early Cretaceous period.

Oxford and Cambridge university scientists believe it belongs to a species closely related to Iguanodon, a large herbivore which had a long tail for balance and hind legs that were longer than their fore limbs. It is thought that their brains displayed distinct similarities to the brains of modern-day crocodiles and birds.

Now, he is encouraging family and friends to go out hunting for their own hidden treasures - and has some tips to help people explore the coastal areas around their home, and to keep everyone safe.

He said: “Don’t despair, the end of the heatwave need not be bad news.

Shark teeth in bone bed

Shark teeth in bone bed

“If you are looking for a free, healthy and interesting activity for the family, then look no further than your local beach.

“We often hear about the famous Jurassic Coast in Dorset, but not many people realise there are fossils to be found on your doorstep, helped along by the recent unseasonal winds.

“It’s amazing what you will find washed in on the tides.

“All you need is a pair of eyes, perhaps a pair of wellies, a good sense of beach safety and a responsible attitude.

“Cliff falls happen. For safety, avoid getting near the cliff face.

“Wait for fossils to be washed out and away from cliffs.

“The best time to search is on the low tide but be aware of the tide turning and always check before you start hunting.

“There is plenty to find in the right conditions. Strong tidal offshore currents can wash away the deep overlying sand exposing new areas to search. No digging required.

“There is a variety of loose dinosaur age fossils to be found locally, including the isolated bones of dinosaurs, turtles, crocodiles, pterosaurs and even small lizards.

“The remains of ancient fossilised sharks can also be found if you are fortunate.

“If you look closely enough you may be able to find fossilised material known as bone bed.

“This rock contains micro-fossils. Hundreds, if not thousands of tiny fragments of bone representing an almost entire eco system of fish, bird-like dinosaurs, amphibian, lizard, crocodile, turtle and pterosaur, even mammal.

“Fossilised dinosaur age plant material can also be washed up on the shores of Sussex. New discoveries have been found in this exciting fossilised material.

“You could report your new finds to any museum, or expert. It’s not always the case that your local museum have experts on-site.

“It may take time and perseverance to get your finds identified.

“The internet is also a useful resource of information for finding the right expert.

“Books and fossil forums can also be of help in reporting and identifying your finds.”