Important Fossil Find

An important fossil was discovered in Jordans Quarry by Diane Godden, the wife of the Quarry and Mine Manager Mark Godden. Mark, who is a keen geologist, took photos of the fossil that appeared to be the shell and limbs of a turtle about 30 cm long and sent them to The Natural History Museum for identification. Andrew R. Milner, a Research Associate in the Department of Palaeontology at The Natural History Museum, replied saying that it was almost certainly of the genus Hylaeochelys which has a very slender row of neural bones, this was clearly present in Albion's specimen.

Unusually, Albion's specimen had part of the head attached to the shell. The lower jaw was visible and once it has been thoroughly examined it might be possible to locate sections of the skull.

Previous Hylaeochelys finds are from the Purbeck Formation at Swanage and elsewhere in southern England but this is the earliest one, from the Jurassic Period. The shell is also very complete and it possible that it is a new species from the later Purbeck examples, but it is difficult to say at this stage.

Richard Edmonds, the earth science manager from the Jurassic Coast team, agreed it was unusual to find a turtle fossil with both its limbs and jawbone. He said: 'Turtle fossils are known to be found in Portland stone but they are rare'. He has overseen a complicated cutting operation at Albion's factory at Portland, where we attempted to remove it from the main bulk of the stone. He was very pleased with the work and commented, 'your guys in the works are very, very good and I have to say that I had a great time in a very positive atmosphere!'

The fossil has now gone to Dave Costin in Lyme Regis who is a fossil preparartor. Once he has finished the work the fossil will be returned to the company so that it can be presented to the local Portland Museum and become part of the background information for the Jurassic Coast, World Heritage site.