FossilsThe fossil collection has over 20,000 specimens, mostly from the fossilized remains of marine animals. They cover more than 500 million years of geological time, starting with the Palaeozoic era, through the Mesozoic era and ending in the Cenozoic era. The fossil material consists of teeth, scales, corals, sponges, bones, shells and plant remains. Most of our collection is from England, with a few exceptions from New Zealand, Scandinavia, Continental Europe, North America, Canada and South America.
Highlights from the Collection
Mr John Clarke Hawkshaw (1841–1921), a civil engineer by trade from Liphook, Hampshire was the nephew of Sir Charles Darwin. He collected marine fossils from around Orford, Suffolk in the 1860s, Filey Brigg, Yorkshire in 1868, Eastwear Bay, Cambridgeshire in the late 1860s and Folkestone, Kent during 1872.
This collection remains in its original cabinet and has been sorted in accordance with English counties by Mr Hawkshaw, and is accompanied by his field collection notebook.
Mr John Edward Lee (1808–1887) was a geologist from Yorkshire. His personal collection of fossils came to our Museum via his son.
In his collection are ammonites from Whitby, Yorkshire, brachiopods and corals from Visby, Gotland Island, Sweden, gastropods and bivalves from Headon Hill, Isle of Wight, crinoids, brachiopods and corals from Dudley, Worcestershire and trilobites from Bohemia, too name just a few.
Sir Archibald Geikie (1835–1924) was an eminent geologist. At the peak of his career, he was both President of the Royal Society and the Geological Society (the only geologist to have ever held that honour).
In this collection he collected gastropods from Isle of Wight, belemnites from Speeton, Yorkshire, bivalves from Osmington Mills, Weymouth and brachiopods and echinoids from Bridport, Dorset. Our Geikie collection also includes letters, field notebooks, photographs, watercolours, personal ephemera, rocks, fossils and minerals.
|Burgess Shale (Marella splendens) collected from a scree slope below Walcott's Quarry, British Columbia, Canada, by Dr McLaren 1966|
The Burgess Shale beds were formed over half a billion years ago when a mudslide covered a deep sea ridge in what is now modern Canada. The result was some excellently preserved fossilised sea creatures, which were found in 1909 by American palaeontologist Charles Doolittle Walcott.
They are a very rare find, as the soft body tissues have been preserved as well as the hard body parts. These fossils demonstrate the evolution of complex multi-celled animals at the end of the Pre Cambrian period about 600 million years ago. The diversity of life had begun!
|Jurassic Ichthyosaur (Ichthyosarus sp.) collected from Lyme Regis, Dorsetshire, England|
Ichthyosaurs had streamlined, fishlike bodies designed for speed. Although they lacked gills, they almost certainly never left the water. They gave birth to live young in the water and rare fossils have captured this moment.
This Ichthyosaur fossil was excavated in the early 20th century from the Lyme Regis coastline, now a World Heritage site. It is a virtually complete skeleton, but must have been disturbed shortly after death as the bones are not quite in life position. The skull has been preserved upside down and the underside of the jaw is visible.
This item was donated by Colonel Oliver Hawkshaw in 1922, the son of John Clarke Hawkshaw and great nephew to Sir Charles Darwin.
|Moa Bird (Emeus crassus) collected from Enfield, New Zealand c.1891.
The other items are from a number of different moa's. A moa's egg shell fragments, a feather, a skull and a moa's foot bones.
This extinct flightless bird once lived in New Zealand. These particular bones were found at Enfield on South Island in a shallow peaty hollow where between 800 and 900 moa skeletons were discovered. Captain Hutton, director of the Canterbury Museum in New Zealand, articulated this skeleton solely of the bones of one species.
The founder of Haslemere Museum, Sir Jonathan Hutchinson, bought the moa skeleton in 1897 from Steven´s Auction Rooms in Covent Garden, London.
The Moa was similar to the emu or cassowary and its eggshell was about 2mm thick with a width of 14cm. It´s rare to find any moa eggshell today and extremely rare to find feathers. The feather depicted was found in a cave in New Zealand and was presented to our museum by Harry A. De Lautour Esq.