Opportunity of a lifetime or My wife thinks that was seriously embarrassing…

Collecting fossils on the Yorkshire coast is not like collecting fossils in a quarry that is still being worked  : You cannot rely on the progress of the quarrying so usually you have to make do with what erosion provides and collect from the debris or in the shingle on the beach. In many areas you can since many years no longer dig in situ, because many exposures are protected as an SSSI (Site of Specific Scientific Interest) by British law (for more information please see http://www.sssi.naturalengland.org.uk  ).

Now that in no way makes collecting dull or seriously lowers your chances of success : There is still enough rock naturally crumbling away from the cliffs  (although we fossil collectors always moan about mild winters, lack of north-easterly storms of the truly ferocious sort etc).
But when the opportunity arises to benefit from somebody legally digging in the cliff or reef, you better be there…

A trench for a new sewage pipe gets dug

This was in April, 1996. A new (err) sewage pipe (yes they still did this then, nowadays all the sewage is being pumped away to a sewage treatment facility) was built out to sea through beds in Robin Hoods Bay. We (2 other friends and myself) just happened to be there (really, I swear, it was just coincidence !).  As we surveyed the rock being dug up, we soon found large, well-preserved examples of Paltechioceras, Eteoderoceras  and other ammonites that we hitherto had never found or never in this size or quality !And now comes the bit that my wife thinks was really, really embarrassing : In our excitement, (she says) we jumped on the freshly dug up rock, like vultures (she says), almost before the digger had dumped it . Well, what can I say, we had a terrific time 🙂

Beds dug up around the trench

Fossil collectors swarm around the digger

I don´t really think that´s us, anyway, the picture is conveniently unsharp…
See one result,  a particularly nice 4″ Paltechioceras tardecrescens complete with mouth border here :
Paltechioceras tardecrescens, 10 cm

Paltechioceras tardecrescens, 10 cm

We visited the new trench in the reef again and again during the following days before it was cast with concrete.
Over the years (more than 15 since then), I have found Paltechioceras again, but never as large or complete as this one – it was the opportunity of a lifetime !
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