Yorkshire Coast Fossils

Sutures in a Jurassic ammonite fossil (cast) from Ravenscar, North Yorkshire.

What books should you buy if you’re interested in Yorkshire Coast fossils? Well, I recommend these ones:

The Geology of the Yorkshire Coast (Pete Rawson & John Wright) – Geologists Association field guide.

Trilobites, Dinosaurs & Mammoths (James McKay) – beautifully illustrated introduction to Britain’s prehistoric life.

Yorkshire Rock (Richard Bell) – another splendidly illustrated introduction, this time to the geology of Yorkshire.

The Missing Lynx (Ross Barnett) – lots of fascinating insights into Ice Age Britain.


The third class in Yorkshire Coast Fossils looks at the Cretaceous and Quaternary.

A website providing a nice introduction to the fossils of the East Yorkshire coast, and where to find them, can be found here.

Fossils of the Speeton Clay (Hull Geological Society)

Belemnites of the Speeton Clay (Northern Fells Science & Art)


The second class in Yorkshire Coast Fossils looks at the Middle and Upper Jurassic.

Hans Steur’s webpages on the Jurassic flora of North Yorkshire can be found here.

Mike Romano & Martin Whyte’s 2003 paper on the Jurassic dinosaur footprints of the Yorkshire Coast can be read here.

The 2018 paper by Sam Slater and colleagues on dinosaur-plant interactions in the Middle Jurassic of Yorkshire can be read here.

John Wright & Pete Rawson’s 2014 paper on the development of the Betton Farm coral bed can be downloaded here. There’s also a nice article here about exploring the Upper Jurassic localities of North Yorkshire by Prof Mark Wilson of Wooster College.


The slides for my first class of the Hidden Horizons course ‘Yorkshire Coast Fossils’ can be downloaded below:

The British Geological Survey‘s online Geology of Britain viewer is here, whilst the app can be downloaded here.

The Natural History Museum‘s Fossil Explorer app can be downloaded here.

The UK Fossils Network has a pretty good list of Yorkshire Coast locations where you can go fossil-hunting.

Read about Will Watts (founder of Hidden Horizons) taking Guardian writer Kevin Rushby fossil-hunting on the Yorkshire Coast in this article from 2017.

The Fossil Hunter

Trilobites: an introduction

This page provides resources for the Hidden University class ‘Trilobites: an introduction’ run by Dr Liam Herringshaw of Hidden Horizons.

Trilobites – well-worth a closer look (handmade replica of Asaphus cornutus, Ordovician, Russia, made by GeoEd Ltd at The Fossil Shop, Scarborough, UK)

The trilobites handout (including the specimen list) can be downloaded here

Online examples of some of the specimens can be found below:

Acaste downingiae (Lapworth Museum of Geology)

Asaphus cornutus (Virtual Fossil Museum)

Calymene blumenbachii (Lapworth Museum of Geology)

Cybantyx anaglyptos (GB-3D Type Fossils)

Cybeloides girvanensis (Scottish Journal of Geology)

Cyphaspis ceratophthalma (trilowelt.de)

Geragnostus callavei (GB-3D Type Fossils)

The slides for the second online class can be downloaded as a PowerPoint file here:

And as a pdf here:

The slides for the first online class can be downloaded as a PowerPoint file here:

And as a pdf here:

An Introduction To Fossils

The materials used/mentioned in my Hidden Horizons online palaeontology course, An Introduction To Fossils, can be found below.

The specimens in the GeoEdDiversity of Life‘ set are as follows:

Fossil nameFossil typeHigher groupAgeWhere from?
Acervularia luxurans CoralCnidariansSilurianUK
Albertosaurus sp.Dinosaur toothReptilesLate CretaceousCanada
Calymene blumenbachiiTrilobiteArthropodsSilurianDudley, UK
CheirotheriumReptile footprintTrace fossilsTriassicGermany/UK
DiplomystusFishRay-finned fishEoceneWyoming, USA
Echioceras quenstedtiAmmoniteMolluscsEarly JurassicDorset, UK
Gissocrinus typusCrinoid (sea lily)EchinodermsSilurianUK
Hefriga serrataShrimpArthropodsLate JurassicGermany
Ichthyosaurus sp.Ichthyosaur toothMarine reptilesEarly JurassicUK
Neuropteris scheuchzeriPlantPteridospermsCarboniferousIllinois, USA
Otodus obliquusShark toothCartilaginous fishEoceneKent, UK
Phymosoma koenigiEchinoid (sea urchin)EchinodermsCretaceousKent, UK
Basic classification of fossil specimens in GeoEd ‘Diversity of Life’ set.

Slides for class 3 (PowerPoint)

Slides for class 3 (pdf)

Did sharks evolve from a bony fish? (Guardian article, based on this scientific paper by Martin Brazeau and colleagues)

Fossil fish of Caithness – if you’re ever in north-east Scotland, go fishing!

Fossil Focus: Ichthyosaurs

Why are birds the only surviving dinosaurs? (NHM article)

Steno‘s 1667 diagram interpreting glossopetrae as fossil shark teeth.

Slides for class 2 (PowerPoint)

Slides for class 2 (pdf)

I talked about ammonite shells having distinctive sutures. Here is a nice example from the Middle Jurassic of Ravenscar, North Yorkshire:

If the tremendous trilobites caught your fancy, meanwhile, you can sign up for our “Trilobites: An Introduction” online class (December 2020) here!

GeoEd Trilobite Collection (13 handmade replica trilobite fossils)

Slides from class 1 (PowerPoint)

Slides from class 1 (pdf)

Geological timescale (from the International Commission on Stratigraphy)

Diversity of life (biology introduction)

Animal evolution (paper by Telford and colleague, 2015)

If you’re out and about hunting fossils in the UK, the Natural History Museum’s Fossil Explorer app is very useful. The NHM also have plenty of fantastic fossil information more generally, too.

For all the latest information on activities online or in the Fossil Shop, please keep an eye on the Hidden Horizons website!

And to find other fossily teaching resources here on fossilhub, please click on the fossils hashtag.

Chalking With Dinosaurs, part 5

After an interval of many months, I’ve been prompted to finally produce a fifth part of Chalking With Dinosaurs, featuring me making footprints in the sands of Scarborough’s South Bay, and then hunting dinosaur footprints in the rocks of the South Cliff:

The video features as part of my live ‘Chalking With Dinosaurs’ talks at the Lyme Regis Virtual Fossil Festival and the Geologists Association’s Virtual Festival of Geology.

Should you wish to print out a copy of the CWD handout that features at the end of the video, you can download it here:

Fossils of the Yorkshire Coast

The PowerPoint slides for my class on February 6th can be downloaded here: 2016_FossilsYorksCoast_SML

Useful links

Fossil hunting in North Yorkshire (UK Fossils Network guide)

Lower Jurassic of Yorkshire (Geological Conservation Review guide)

Middle Jurassic of Yorkshire (Geological Conservation Review guide)

Upper Jurassic of Yorkshire (Geological Conservation Review guide)

Yorkshire’s Jurassic Park (National Trust)

Fossils & Geology (Whitby Museum)

Fossils of the Whitby Coast: A Photographic Guide (Dean M. Lomax)

Geology & Palaeontology of Staithes (Ian M. West, Southampton University)

Geological History of Britain (2015)

William Smith’s 1815 geological map of England and Wales.

The PowerPoint slides for my 2015 one-day course on the Geological History of Britain can be downloaded here:

1. Introduction: 2015_GHB_Part1

2. Cainozoic: 2015_GHB_Part2

3. Mesozoic: 2015_GHB_Part3

4. Palaeozoic: 2015_GHB_Part4

5. Proterozoic & Archaean: 2015_GHB_Part5

To view the files I produced for my 2012 evening class on the Geological History of Britain, which provide more detail on many of the topics introduced here, click the ‘GHB’ tab below this post, or follow this link: http://fossilhub.org/?tag=ghb.

To obtain a copy of the British Geological Survey’s ‘Climate Through Time’ poster, follow this link: http://www.bgs.ac.uk/discoveringGeology/climateChange/climateThroughTime.html.

To view the figures from the Geological History of Britain and Ireland book (Woodcock and Strachan 2012), follow this link: http://bcs.wiley.com/he-bcs/Books?action=index&bcsId=7187&itemId=1405193824.

To view the photos and figures from the Geological Conservation Review series of books on British geology, follow this link: http://www.thegcr.org.uk/ImageBank.cfm.

An Introduction to Fossils


Notes (pdf) for my University of York CLL class “An Introduction to Fossils” on Nov. 29th: 2014_Intro_Fossils

Useful links

The challenges of taxonomy, or why reptiles don’t exist any more (article from The Conversation).

Trilobites.info – a marvellous and comprehensive website devoted to understanding trilobites.

The Burgess Shale – Cambrian lagerstatte website from the Royal Ontario Museum (including a Virtual Sea Odyssey).

Primeval Predators – the plastic version of the Burgess Shale!

The Palaeontological Association – promoting palaeontology (also with a Facebook page and a Twitter account).

The Micropalaeontological Society – for lovers of smaller fossils.


(N. B. Clicking the tag ‘fossils‘ will also bring up plenty of other links and resources on this website).


An Introduction to Geology: 2014

Week 9. Fossils.

How to tell bone from stone: Smithsonian magazine article by Brian Switek.

The Fossil Record of Cricket (an article I wrote for ESPN Cricinfo). I later wrote another on the evolution of fast throwing.


Weeks 6. & 7. TECTONICS

The day the Earth moved – very interesting article in Cosmos magazine describing the revolutionary times of 1963, when tectonic theory came to the fore.

The Moho (or, more properly, the Mohorovičić Discontinuity) is the boundary between the crust and the mantle. It is not the same as the boundary between the lithosphere and aesthenosphere, because the lithosphere includes the solid upper mantle.

Much of the lower mantle is thought to be composed of a (newly named) mineral called bridgmanite.

There is also new evidence, including a recently discovered terrestrial sample of a mineral called ringwoodite, that the lower mantle (410 to 660 km below the surface) has considerable volumes of water trapped in it.

Both bridgmanite and ringwoodite are varieties of olivine, as explained in this helpful article.



Faunal correlation (from Wikimedia Commons)

Here are a few 2014 additions to all the existing ‘IntroGeol’ files already on the site, as follows:

Lecture notes for Class 5 “A Bit More Time”

2014_IntroGeol_Lect5 (PowerPoint)

The Rock Cycle

An excellent, rather more detailed version of the rock cycle, illustrating the subdivisions of the different sections, can be seen on the Geology Cafe website here.


The 2014 edition of the geological time scale, produced by the International Commission on Stratigraphy (ICS) can be downloaded here.

If you want details of where in the world any of the Global Boundary Stratotype Sections and Points (GSSPs) are, Wikipedia provides a pretty comprehensive list here. It is based on the International Commission on Stratigraphy’s list, which can be found here.

For more information on clay minerals, also known as sheet silicates, also known as phyllosilicates (literally ‘leaf silicates’, deriving from the same Greek origin as ‘filo’ pastry), these course notes by Prof. Stephen Nelson of Tulane University are very helpful.

An excellent Conversation article on why the discovery of clay minerals on Mars is rather important.

A Very Short History of the Earth

Time Spiral (from Wikimedia Commons)

ChronoZoom – an interactive time scale showing the age of life, the universe and everything (if your computer has the right browser!).


ICS – The International Commission on Stratigraphy (the latest geological timescale can be found here).

William Smith and biostratigraphy (part of a University of California Berkeley series on the history of evolutionary thought).

John Phillips – the Time Lord of York (my article for York Mix).

Absolute dating

A quick introduction to radiometric dating (University of California Berkeley).

How to calculate the age of meteorites (or anything else for that matter).

Rock Around The Clock (Daily Telegraph article on the 4.4 billion year-old zircon crystal from Australia). The scientific paper can be found here.

Fossils & Extinction

From soup to cells (Berkeley introduction to the origins of life on Earth).

Solving Darwin’s Dilemma – Precambrian rocks really do contain abundant fossils (report of 2009 study by scientists at Oxford University).

First Life – David Attenborough tackles the origins of life, including the Precambrian fossils found near his childhood home in Leicester.

Mass extinctions (NHM guide to the “Big Five”). If you fancy a “Big Five” walking tour of London, you can follow my not entirely serious guide.

Prehistoric fossil collectors (article from the Geological Society).

How will humans go extinct? (article on BBC News, 24 April 2013).

Hidden Horizons website (Scarborough-based company run by Will Watts, offering Geology & Natural History Education and Events. Look out for information on the upcoming Yorkshire Fossil Festival).