Haslemere Educational Museum
Culture & Learning Since 1888
Geology Collection

Fossils

Burgess Shale Fossil

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!

Burgess Shale
Burgess Shale (Marrella splendens) collected from a scree slope below Walcott's Quarry, British Columbia, Canada, by Dr McLaren 1966

Ichthyosaur

Jurassic Ichthyosaur

Jurassic Ichthyosaur (Ichthyosarus sp.) collected from Lyme Regis, Dorset, England, UK

Ichthyosaur means fish lizard. Ichthyosaurs were marine reptiles, a completely separate group to dinosaurs. They had streamlined, fishlike bodies designed for speed. Although they lacked gills, but almost certainly never left the water. They gave birth to live young in the water and rare fossils have captured this moment.

This item was donated by Colonel Oliver Hawkshaw in 1922, the son of John Clarke Hawkshaw and great nephew to Sir Charles Darwin.

Biodiversity of Complex Marine Life

The examples below show some of the biodiversity of complex marine life spanning over 500 million years of Earth's history. From the common gastropods we can still see today to small early arthropods which evolved in to insects, spiders, centipedes, millipedes and crustaceans.

Late Pliocene Gastropod

Late Pliocene Gastropod
(5.3 – 2.6 million years ago)
Neptunea contraria
Location: East Anglia, UK

Eocene Gastropod

Eocene Gastropod
(56 – 34 million years ago)
Athleta luctator
Location: Barton-on-sea cliffs, Hampshire, UK

Eocene Fish (Perch)

Eocene Fish (Perch)
(56 – 34 million years ago)
Priscacara sp.
Location: USA

Eocene Bivalve

Eocene Bivalve
(56 – 34 million years ago)
Venericor sp.
Location: Bracklesham Bay, West Sussex, UK

Late Cretaceous Echinoid

Late Cretaceous Echinoid (Sea Unchin)
(100 – 66 million years ago)
Micraster coranguinum
Location: Greys, Essex, UK

Late Cretaceous Sponge

Late Cretaceous Sponge
(100 – 66 million years ago)
Porosphaera sp.
Location: Ventnor, Isle of Wight, UK

Late Jurassic Lobster

Late Jurassic Lobster
(150 – 145 million years ago)
Cancrinos latipes
Location: Solnhofen, Germany

Jurassic Bivalve

Jurassic Bivalve (Devil's Toenail)
(201 – 145 million years ago)
Gryphaea arcuata
Location: Honeybourne, Gloucestershire, UK

Middle Jurassic Nautilus

Middle Jurassic Nautilus
(174 – 163 million years ago)
Cenoceras sp.
Location: Bridport Harbour, Dorset, UK

Jurassic Ammonite

Jurassic Ammonite
(201 – 145 million years ago)
Asteroceras stellare
Location: Charmouth, Dorset, UK

Jurassic Fish (Mackerel)

Jurassic Fish (Mackerel)
(201 – 145 million years ago)
Dapedium sp.
Location: Charmouth, Dorset, UK

Jurassic Braciopod

Jurassic Brachiopod
(201 – 145 million years ago)
Goniorhynchia boueti
Location: Herbury, Fleet, Weymouth, Dorset, UK

Early Jurassic Ammonite

Early Jurassic Ammonite
(201 – 174 million years ago)
Dactylioceras tenuiscostatum
Location: Whitby, Yorkshire, UK

Late Silurian Coral

Late Silurian Coral
(427 – 419 million years ago)
Stromatopora sp.
Location: Visby, Gotland Island, Sweden

Silurian Trilobite

Silurian Trilobite
(443 – 419 million years ago)
Arethusina konincki
Location: Bohemia

Middle Cambrian Trilobite

Middle Cambrian Trilobite
(521 – 497 million years ago)
Ellipsocephalus Hoffi
Location: Bohemia

Middle Cambrian Arthropod

Middle Cambrian Arthropod
(521 – 497 million years ago)
Burgess Shale Fossil
Marrella splendens
Location:
Walcott's Quarry, British Columbia, Canada