130M-year-old fossil crocodile skull unearthed on coast of Dorset, UK

Sunday, August 26, 2007

The fossilised skull of a Cretaceous crocodile has been unearthed from the coast of Dorset, United Kingdom.

The 58 cm skull, which belongs to an animal called a Goniopholis, was discovered by Richard Edmonds, earth science manager for the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site team. "It's only the second crocodile skull to be found in the area in the last 30 years. It was obviously a real piece of luck to find something like that. The crocodile skull really is the find of a lifetime." he said. Describing how he located the skull, he said “A part of my job is to monitor the condition of the rocks and fossils along the World Heritage Site but you don't expect to find something this spectacular without spending a lot more time on the coast. The back of the skull was lying in the rubble on the beach and the rest was trapped in the cliff fall.”

The skull was discovered in April, but because the site is a Site of Special Scientific Interest it took two weeks to receive permission to dig it out, which had to be obtained from Natural England and the landowner. It was located after a small section was exposed by a cliff fall.

The skull is now on display in the Swanage Museum and Heritage Centre where it is to remain until September, at which point it will be examined by experts from the Bristol University and the Natural History Museum. If these experts deem the skull to be of scientific significance it will be donated to a registered museum.