Please rotate your device

Peterborough Under Water

165 million years ago

Information

Peterborough was much closer to the equator in Jurassic times and a shallow sea covered the area. Together with warmer global temperatures, the local climate would have felt as balmy as the Bahamas. In the 145 million years since the Jurassic Period, the continents have moved hundreds of miles. Ever since the Earth formed, the rocky plates on its surface have moved around very slowly, powered by the heat in the planet’s core. Today, the continents continue to move as they collide and separate very slowly. Peterborough’s Jurassic sea was packed with creatures of all sizes, from microsopic to monstrous. The small fish, ammonites and belemnites feasted on shoals of plankton. They in turn became food for larger creatures. At the top of the food chain were the large ichthyosaurs, plesiosaurs, pliosaurs and crocodiles. The shallow sea supported a huge variety of fish of all sizes and shapes, adapted for life at different depths in the water. Near the surface, shoals of fast-swimming Caturus hunted smaller fish. The vast Leedsichthys – the biggest fish ever known – cruised harmelssly among them, gulping in water and filtering plankton to eat. When these creatures died they sank to the bottom of the sea where some of them became fossilised. Peterborough Museum houses a magnificent collect of these fossils.





Leedsichthys, the Big Jurassic Fish

150 million years ago

Information

The Jurassic sea was home to the biggest species of fish ever known, Leedsichthys problematicus This bony fish would have grown up to 16 metres in length, and is thought to have been a filter feeder, living on plankton and krill. In 2001, the most complete skeleton of Leedsichthys was discovered in the Star Pit brick quarry near Peterborough. A team of fossil experts excavated the creature, over a period of 2 years.  Over 1800 bones were collected. The specimen is now part of the Peterborough Museum collections.





Resources

Pachycostasaurus dawnii

150 million years ago

Information

This fossil was found locally at the brick pits in Kings Dyke in 1994. Scientists studied the bones and found that this was a unique beast: a new type of pliosaur not found before. Pliosaurs were a group of plesiosaurs, skilled in ambush and the fast pursuit of their prey.  They had thin bones which were designed to reduce the weight of their skeletons. Pachycostasaurus Dawnii was found to have elements of its skeleton which were thickened rather than thin.  This has suggested to scientists that it would not have been a fast swimmer, but instead a slow stable swimmer. When new types or species are found, the scientists that have described them also get the chance to name them. Pachycostasaurus dawnii was named after its discoverer; local palaeontologist, Alan Dawn.





Resources

Stegosaurus

150 million years ago

Information

While marine reptiles swam in the Jurassic seas, dinosaurs roamed the land. Where Peterborough is today was under the Jurassic seas, so dinosaur bones are rarely found. Some however may have washed down to the coast. These bones thought to belong to a Stegosaurus where found in the Fletton brick pits.  Stegosaurus was a large, plant-eating dinosaur that had two rows of bony plates along its back that end with a double pair of spikes.





Resources

base