|Thanks to Geo-classica for this beautiful image|
|Lyme Regis pavement|
Aren't they just wonderful?
It was almost Mateo's first word - certainly his first passion - discovered on a holiday in Lyme Regis almost 12 years ago.
He was fascinated by the creatures we found in the pavements,
|Lovely touch - Lyme Regis lamp posts in the shape of ammonites|
on the lampposts,
and on the beaches.
|On the beach in Dorset - courtesy of Hannekje|
It was a lovely holiday we had then and we've indulged our interest for all things fossilised and extinct ever since. We had a great time discovering the fossils on the east coast of England at Cromer, where mammoths used to roam and revisited Lyme Regis and nearby beaches several times when we lived in England. We also made a bee-line for the Jurassic Coast of Spain - Colunga in Asturias - and I've written before about the amazing beach there where the footprints of passing dinosaurs can be clearly seen.
We have made friends with a lovely family here in Alcala la Real, who have a deep interest and work in biology, nature and ecology. We went with them yesterday on a fossil-hunting event in the Sierra Subbetica, less than 30 minutes to the west of Alcala. Meeting up at one of the centres of the area, Santa Rita, we were given a talk (oh, how they needed presentation skills!!) and time to look around the centre before we headed off to a little mountainside, where around 65 million years ago, something caused millions of ammonites and nautilus to collapse and die on the seabed. Ammonites didn't survive, though the nautilus did and is little changed in the subsequent millions of years.
It was very clear that a tectonic plate shift (oh how easy it is to say this - you know what I mean, don't you - no further explanation needed) had occurred at some point after these creatures had died, settled at the bottom of the sea and become fossilied. How the fossils appear depends on the type of stone they are found in. These were in limestone and so we could mainly see outlines and patterns rather than whole, preserved ammonites. I took lots of photos with my new phone but when we got home, we couldn't download them - technology fails archeology!
Ours knew several of the children that went and the atmosphere was contagiously happy. The sun shone like it was summer and we walked and hunted and talked and marvelled. And whilst we didn't see anything like the monster ammonites we found in Lyme Regis, we saw some beautiful examples of these incredible 'snakestones' as they were called before fossils were known about.
What must ancient people - not so ancient actually, as fossils weren't identified as such until the 18th century - must have thought about the things they found ? So much mythology must come from prehistoric finds - think about dragons and giants - surely the natural assumption of someone finding huge or unusual bones in the ground.
We will continue to struggle with the technology!